2018 FIFA World Cup to kick off in Moscow today
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital Moscow today and will end at the same venue on July 15. In keeping with tradition, the opening ceremony takes place before the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The action is expected to start at 1300 GMT, two hours before the curtain-raiser match.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st edition of the quadrennial international football tournament, contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA.
This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe and the 11th time that it has been held in Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia to keep travel time manageable.
It is expected to be the most expensive football championship in history, budgeted at 11.8-14 billion dollars, surpassing the cost of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, including 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champion Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.