photos by Internet
FROM June 14 to July 15, the world has their eyes set on Russia as the 2018 FIFA World Cup goes underway. The FIFA World Cup, dubbed as the greatest show on earth, and deservedly so, for the next few days will have storms in a tea cup everywhere ranging from roadside tea stalls to corporate ofﬁces.
Despite Bangladesh not participating actively in the world cup, the people here do not lack the enthusiasm to support other countries participating in the World Cup. In fact, we become global citizens for the month. Majority of the population supports Brazil or Argentina- the North American giants, with a few Germany, Spain, England, France and Portugal supporters here and there.
We are a football crazy nation. Football fever reaches its peak every four years in Bangladesh during the FIFA World Cup, and nowhere is it more evident than on the streets of Dhaka city. By waving ﬂags of their favourite teams, hanging banners and festoons and drawing frescos, people express their love for the greatest show on Earth.
The World Cup is not only about the games played. It’s a festival, a grand celebration of harmony, peace and the beautiful game. The host country welcomes fans from all over the world, and the venues turn into one global village for lovers of the game. This is the competition where heroes are made. Legends of the game etches their name into the memories of millions. Aspiring player from underdogs give their all for their country, hoping to get noticed by big football clubs. On their day, any team can beat any giants. That is the beauty of football, even if you don’t support any team, you can root for the underdog, and more often than not, you would be rewarded.
Football’s showpiece event features 32 teams, including holders Germany, competing in 64 games over 32 days. The month-long tournament is expected to attract one and a half million fans to Russia and an estimated global television audience of over three billion viewers. There are eight groups, each containing four teams, with the top two advancing to the last 16. The ﬁnal takes place at the 81,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, July 15.
Germany, Brazil, Euro 2016 winners Portugal, 2014 runners-up Argentina, Belgium, Poland and 1998 winners France are among the eight seeded teams. Hosts Russia are also seeded, though they are the tournament’s lowest-placed team - 70th - in FIFA’s world rankings. England, who have won only one of their past eight World Cup matches, are unseeded, as are 2010 champions Spain.
Germany has reached at least the semi-ﬁnals in each of the past four editions of the competition.
Brazil is the only nation to have appeared at every single World Cup, but they have not won the tournament since 2002 and not since 1958 in Europe. Yet the Brazilians will fancy their chances, particularly as the team stars Neymar and Coutinho, two of the most expensive players in the world.
France boasts a young, exciting squad which includes exciting 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe. The closest England have come to repeating their feat of 1966 is a semi-ﬁnal appearance at Italia ‘90. With an average age of 26 years and 18 days, the Three Lions have the third-youngest squad in Russia.
Panama and Iceland will be competing at their ﬁrst World Cup. With a population of approximately 335,000, Iceland are the smallest nation ever to qualify. A national holiday was declared in Panama after they qualiﬁed for the World Cup for the ﬁrst time.
There are several teams back on the world stage after lengthy absences. Peru return to the ﬁnals for the ﬁrst time since 1982, while North African nations Egypt and Morocco are back for the ﬁrst time in 28 and 20 years respectively. However, there are some notable absentees. Four-time winners Italy, South American champions Chile and their African counterparts Cameroon all failed to qualify. The Netherlands, runners-up in 2010, also missed out while the United States are absent for the ﬁrst time since 1986.
With the corruption and slave labour scandals surrounding the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, the World Cup in Russia becomes signiﬁcant as it is the last conventional World Cup played out in current format. Qatar World Cup will be on December and World Cup 2026 onwards would feature 48 teams instead of the current 32 team format.
This World Cup also marks the beginning of the future of football. Video assistant referees (VAR) made its debut at the World Cup. The technology will be used to help ofﬁcials avoid making potentially match-deciding mistakes when it comes to important issues such as awarding goals, penalties or red cards. We will also see an extra substitution allowed for teams going into extra time at the knockout rounds.
Fun fact: Bangladesh have participated in the World Cup indirectly by producing major portions of the kits of the football teams participating in the FIFA World Cup 2018.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a jersey, scream your hearts out and support your team!
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