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18 Facts you need to know about the 2018 Russia World Cup

Last updated: Jan 30th, 2019

To celebrate the opening fixture of the 2018 Russia World Cup tonight, we’ve pooled together the 18 key facts and figures every football fan should know!

Let’s kick off…

  • 1


  • Held every four years, the 2018 World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup – the quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA.

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  • The official 2018 World Cup Mascot, Wolf Zabivaka™, was designed by student Ekaterina Bocharova.

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  • The 2018 World Cup Logo was unveiled in space! On the 28th October 2014, Cosmonauts at the International Space Station showed the logo for the first time.

  • 10


  • Referees have been given the right to stop or abandon a game if racist or other discriminatory incidents occur during any of the World Cup games.

  • 13


  • Russia have never made it out of the group stage at a World Cup. Will this be the year that changes?

  • 16


  • Fans arriving for the 2018 FIFA World Cup carrying a ticket and a FAN ID can access free-of-charge railway link to the host city.

  • 2


  • It’s the first time in its history that Russia have hosted the tournament.

  • 5


  • It’s the first World Cup to be held in Europe for 12 years.

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  • The distance between the easternmost (Kaliningrad) and westernmost (Ekaterinburg) host cities in Russia is about the same as the distance between Moscow and London (2,424 kilometers, 1,500 miles).

  • 11


  • A deaf cat called Achilles who resides at a St. Petersburg museum is to predict the outcomes of World Cup games, after getting all but one right at the Confederations Cup last year.

  • 14


  • This is the first time a tournament has taken place across two continents – Europe and Asia.

  • 17


  • Only heads of state or World Cup winners are allowed to touch the real FIFA World Cup Trophy.

  • 3


  • It is expected to be the most expensive football championship in history, budgeted at US$ 11.8 – 14 billion.

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  • The 2018 World Cup will contain 11 host cities and 12 stadiums – with many stadiums being constructed especially for the World Cup.

  • 9


  • Russia’s Oleg Salenko holds the record for most goals in a World Cup game (five goals vs. Cameroon in 1994).

  • 12


  • The official tournament poster features a throwback to legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin. He played in the 1958 and 1970 World Cups and is still the only keeper to win the Ballon d’Or.

  • 15


  • VAR will be used at the World Cup for the first time after the IFAB (International Football Association Board) approved the use of the technology on a permanent basis.

  • 18


  • All in all there will be sixty-four matches of football in just under a month.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday 13th June, with Russia playing Saudi Arabia as the opening game. England kick off their campaign against Tunisia on Monday 18th June. Let’s hope they’re on the ball!

View our new infographic – “The 10 best World Cup Kits” of all time.