This time around the FIFA World Cup promises to be a bigger deal than ever before. With a total of 32 determined teams battling it out, more than 3.2 million watchers around the world, and thousands of hours of television run-time, the World Cup is the focal point of all things significant and newsworthy.

But there’s more that makes the 2018 World Cup special. Here are some details you might not have known about this year’s edition of your favourite tournament:

1. Winners And Losers

Italy took a harder hit than we all think: this is the first time in 60 years that it won’t be playing in the World Cup. Brazil, on the other hand, with the highest amount of titles (five) and a consistent qualifier since 1930, is back once more. A bitter pill to swallow for Italy, surely, especially considering the fact that absolute newbies like Panama and Iceland snagged spots this time.

Italy loses World Cup qualifier against Sweden in 2016

2. Hot-headed Croats

Apparently, the Croats are the people to look out for if you’re looking for some heavier action on the field. They tend to play a mean game; the Croatian team has seen a total of five red cards during the past four World Cup tournaments, out of which two were for the opposing team.

With good reason perhaps, as evidenced by this unprovoked attack on a Croatian player during a Croatia vs. Cameroon 2014 World Cup match

3. Muslims Make A Mark

This time there’s a pretty solid round-up on the African front, with five teams playing in the World Cup. These include Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Senegal: all of which are Muslim majority countries.

You can’t say Muslims have no stake in this!

4. This Year’s Mascot – A Wolf!

The mascot was decided over a period of four weeks; Russian students designed the characters, out of which three were finalized: a cat, tiger, and wolf. A poll set by Fifa revealed the wolf to have received a 53% vote: and so the wolf was crowned mascot “Zabivaka”, Russian for “the one who scores”.

Meet Zabivaka – described by Fifa to radiate “fun, charm, and confidence”

5. Pakistan’s Very Own Anthem

Pakistani singer and songwriter Qurutulain Balouch (QB) teamed up with American artist Jason Derulo to produce Pakistan’s own version of this year’s FIFA anthem, called ‘Colors’. The music video contains snippets of scenes in Karachi, showcasing the passion for football amongst Pakistan’s youth.

Jason Derulo makes his debut at Coke Studio – recording the Fifa anthem with QB!

6. Fifa Touched Space!

The logo for the FIFA World Cup 2018 was actually uncovered for the first time in space by a group of three cosmonauts. This was then broadcasted at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and much appreciated by FIFA president Sepp Blatter who said it “reflected the heart and soul of Russia”. Needless to say, they pulled out all the stops for this one.

Logo unveiled while in space

7. Money Talks

The matches will take place in 11 different cities and here’s how much money Russia spent to make sure every single one of its stadiums would be in tip-top shape for the Fifa World Cup games: 10.1 billion dollars. The amount was spent on revamping and adding to the facilities offered at the stadiums.

The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, where the final match is set to take place on July 15th

8. The Telstar 18 To Represent Pakistan

The ‘Telstar 18’ is the official match ball for the FIFA World Cup 2018 – and this ball has been manufactured in the city of Sialkot right here in Pakistan. In fact, the footballs used in the 2014 World cup were also made in Sialkot.

Pakistan couldn’t make it to the tournament but it still made a hefty contribution!

9. The Baby Boom

This one may be more speculation than fact, but it is being said the winning country should gear up for a baby boom. Supporting statistics explain how Germany’s birth rate shot up 30% nine months after the country hosted the World Cup in 2006 (coming in third). Spain’s also rose after it emerged victorious in the Champions League of 2009. More recently in 2016, Iceland experienced the same after winning the Euro Cup.

An unlikely icon!

It’s been a much-anticipated event, with a lot of hefty preparation and high hopes. Let’s see how things pan out!


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