The Premier League may have finished but fear not football fans because the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ is just around the corner.
Optus Sport is the only place you can watch all 64 matches of the tournament, including every Socceroos game live and on-demand.
So ahead of the big event, let’s delve into some interesting facts around this year’s FIFA World Cup™.
1. The FIFA World Cup™ is the most-widely watched sporting event in the world and over three billion people are expected to watch this year’s tournament held in Russia.
2. The final on 15 July will be played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow which has a capacity of 81,000. The Luzhniki Stadium was chosen because it can hold almost double the amount of spectators that Moscow’s second biggest stadium, the Otkrytie Arena, can (44,000).
3. The mascot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ is a wolf called Zabivaka whose name means “goalscorer” in Russian. Zabivaka won a national competition where Russians were given the opportunity to vote for the official mascot of the tournament. Over one million people voted and Zabivaka won 52.8% of the vote against its opponents, a tiger and a cat. Tomsk State University student, Ekaterina Bocharova is the designer behind the mascot.
4. Socceroos veteran and Premier League legend Tim Cahill is amongst the four players who could score in their fourth World Cup. The others? Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), David Villa (Spain) and Rafael Marguez (Mexico). Bonus fact: Cahill, has scored 45% of Australia’s World Cup goals (5 out of 11).
5. It won’t come as much of a surprise that Brazil has overtaken Spain as the most expensive squad (worth an eye-watering €671.5 million or AU $1 billion) at the 2018 FIFA World CupTM. The average age of their top-five most valuable players, which include superstars Neymar and Philippe Coutinho, is just 24.
6. Panama have the least expensive squad, worth €5.25 million (AU $7.8 million) and this is the first time they have made it to a FIFA World Cup™. The Central American side have twice been runners up in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ by finishing ahead of the USA in their regional playoffs. Panama will have their work cut out for them if they want to make it into the last 16; they face a tough group stage with notable opponents including England and Belgium.
7. 13,000 people have been involved in the construction and renovation of 10 stadiums for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in Russia. Construction associated with the tournament has created 100,000 jobs for local people.
8. The architects behind the Kazan Arena (where Australia will play its first match against France in the group stages) also designed Wembley Stadium and Arsenal’s home ground, the Emirates. The Kazan Arena can hold up to 45,000 spectators.
9. The tournament’s official poster, designed by renowned Russian artist Igor Gurovich, features an image of Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin. Yashin played in the 1958 and 1970 World Cups and is the only goalkeeper to ever win the Ballon d’Or. Gurovich says he chose Yashin for the poster because he wanted “a symbol of Russian football as the main figure.”
10. And finally, it’s been reported that 66,000 Iceland fans requested tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, meaning that 20% of the entire population wanted to come to Russia. For a country with only 330,000 inhabitants, Iceland is the smallest nation to ever qualify and the team’s coach, Heimar Hallgrimson, famously combines managing the national team with running his own dental surgery.
We’ll finish this list off with a clip of Iceland celebrating victory at Euro 2016 with their trademark ‘Viking Clap’:
2018 FIFA World Cup: Personal viewing in AU. Charges apply. Subscription, compatible device & AU app store account required. See optus.com.au/FIFA for details.