Here it is! The long-awaited World Cup is right around the corner, only this time instead of taking place in warm Brazil, we will see 32 nations from all around the globe playing against each other in cold Russia for the title of world champions.
It’s an event all football fans are waiting for and understandably so. We will have a chance to see one of the world best players such as Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar.. playing for their nations as well as rising stars such as Eriksen, Salah, De Bruyne etc. representing their countries. The World cup is always a place where the unthinkable happens and where new stars are born. Players are hungry for a win to make their country proud and prove themselves to the world, and sometimes this enthusiasm gets a bit out of hand.
At this point I must also mention two notable absentees from 2018 world cup; Italy and Netherlands who both failed to qualify. This will be the first time in 60 years since Azzurri failed to qualify, whereas it will be the second time in a row Netherland failed to do so.
About the 2018 World Cup
As mentioned before this year’s World cup will take place in Russia, starting from 14 June – 15 July. With 32 teams divided into 8 groups (A-H). This will, in fact, be the first World Cup held in Europe since 2006 tournament which was played in Germany. In addition, it will be the first ever World cup held in Eastern Europe. Due to the size of Russia and travel times needed to get to stadiums, we will see all (11) but one stadium positioned in European Russia, solely to keep the travel time manageable.
The stadiums used in 2018 world cup are as follows:
– Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow); 80.000 seats (venue for semi-finals and finals)
– Krestovsky Stadium (Saint Petersburg); 64.287 seats
– Fisht Olympic Stadium (Sochi); 47.659 seats
– Volgograd Arena (Volgograd); 45.568 seats
– Kazan Arena (Kazan); 45.379 seats
– Otkritie Stadium (Moscow); 45.360 seats
– Rostov Arena (Rostov-on-Don); 45.145 seats
– Nizhny Novgorod Stadium (Nizhny Novgorod); 44.899 seats
– Cosmos Arena (Samara); 44.807 seats
– Mordovia Arena (Saransk); 44.442 seats
– Central Stadium (Yekaterinburg); 35.696 seats
– Kaliningrad Stadium (Kaliningrad); 35.212 seats
Video Assistant Referee (VAR)
Looking at new additions to the world cup, the well known VAR (Video Assistant Referee) technology will be implemented. It’s an addition, not all agree on, but the decision has been made. It’s been a long time coming and goals that were scored and disallowed contributed to the implementation of VAR. One of such cases is Lampard’s goal back in 2010 against Germany when the ball clearly crossed the line but the referee saw otherwise. The pressure from players and managers grew and so did the desire to add new technology to prevent such mistakes.
Arsene Wenger had this to say about VAR:
“It is time for us to help the referees – to all be united and have a less conservative approach and finally opt for video. The video will help the referees, not question their authority. It will give them more credit, more authority, and fewer mistakes. Football is the first sport in the world today but we have to accept we have the most conservative approach to the game than any other sport. This can be a strength but on the refereeing side I think it has been a weakness.”
And he is right, it’s understandable referees do make mistake, they are human after all, but mistakes should be minimized and we hope we will achieve that with VAR.
So how does it work?
There is a specific rule for what VAR can and will be used;
– penalty decisions
– direct red cards
– cases of mistaken identity
– The referee must always make the decision, and that decision will be final unless he is clearly wrong.
– The referee can only go back to the start of the attacking phase which leads to the incident
– A goal scored from a throw-in which should have gone to the other team cannot be disallowed.
Of course, even here there are some concerns. What does a “clear mistake” mean and when should VAR be used instead of match referee? Another concern is whether the referees are experienced enough to use VAR. It’s a new technology after all. As you can see VAR has it’s benefits and doubts, but we can not say for sure which prevail and will have to wait and see how it all plays out.
As mentioned before, we will see 32 teams split into 8 groups. Click on the name of the group, if you would like to read group previews.