For this week’s blog post, we’re heading to Russia. Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which saw France rise above the rest to claim the title of world champion. Congratulations to France and their team for surviving the gauntlet that is this tournament that we only get to see every four years. This is France’s second World Cup championship. They previously won in 1998, when they were also the host nation.
Not only am I a fan of soccer, but I also used to play. I was a mom who played soccer and a soccer mom. I played left back for close to ten years—not even close to the skills my younger son who also played defense but I had fun. Soccer is a family tradition it seems as my sons both played all throughout school and are true fans of the beautiful game.
This World Cup started with 32 teams from all over the world and after the dust settled, France was crowned champion. This tournament featured unexpected early exists from the two best players in the world Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and their respective countries Portugal and Argentina. Other usual heavyweights like Germany failed to advance to the second round, which only opened things up more. In addition to the early exits of traditional powers, the tournament began without 4-time champion Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and the United States as they failed to qualify for the tournament. Egypt, led by rising star Mohamed Salah were a popular sleeper pick but failed to advance as their star was still recovering from a previous injury.
Not only is the World Cup an opportunity for nations to come together in the spirit of competition, but also big business. According to an article from Business Insider, FIFA generated $2.2 billion in profits from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. While FIFA took home some serious money, this is partly due to not having to cover the costs of building new stadiums, public transportation lines and other facilities; that was left to the host nation Brazil. From the same Business Insider article, Brazil was reported to shell out $3.6 billion to construct stadiums that do not get much use after the matches end.
While hosting the World Cup may be exciting for the people of the host nations, and host nations do get an automatic bid to the tournament, this reminds me of the subject of countries hosting the Olympics. I’ve written on this topic in the past and the comparisons are strikingly similar.
The countries that host the matches are due for an influx of money due to all the visitors for the tournament, but the players have a chance to make some money as well. The overall prize fund for the 2018 World Cup totaled $400 million, with the champion taking home $38 million, according to Sports Illustrated. A star of the tournament and at 19, the youngest to score a goal in a World Cup match since Pelé, French forward Kylian Mbappe has elected to donate his salary from the tournament to Premiers de Cordée, a charity that offers sporting opportunities to children who have been hospitalized or have disabilities. Mbappe made around $22,000 per match in the World Cup compared to the $350,844.30 he makes per week playing for his club team of Paris St. Germain.
While some favorites failed to even make the tournament and others failed to advance past the first group stage, France was a contender that looked poised and precise throughout the tournament and finished with maybe their best performance, winning the final in Moscow convincingly 4-2 over Croatia.