The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia after the country defeated bids from the U.S., Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal to win the right to host the tournament. Russia was named as the host of the 2018 World Cup on the same day that Qatar was controversially chosen as host of the 2022 tournament.
Here’s what you need to know about the next World Cup:
1. The Qualifying Process Begins in July 2015
On July 25, 2015, the draw for the World Cup qualifiers will be held in St. Petersburg. As host, Russia is the only country that has a place guaranteed at the tournament.
2. There Is a Possibility of Expanding the Tournament to 40 Teams
The president of Europe’s soccer governing body, UEFA, has made it clear to FIFA President Sepp Blatter that he is keen on the idea of expanding the World Cup to 40 teams from 32, reports Reuters. The expansion would make room for more Asian and African teams.
3. The Tournament Will Take Place in ‘European’ Russia
This is the first time the World Cup will be held in Eastern Europe. All of the 2018 host cities are in the European section of Russia. The cities named are:
In total, there will be 11 cities used of the tournament, one fewer than featured in Brazil. There are two stadiums in Moscow, Luzhniki and the not-yet-opened Otkritie Arena.
4. Due to Racism in Russia, Yaya Toure Wants to Lead a Black Boycott of the Tournament
A BBC report from October 2013 quoted Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure saying that black players may boycott the tournament if Russia’s racism problems aren’t tackled. The Ivory Coast player said:
If we aren’t confident at the World Cup coming to Russia, we don’t come.
Toure was specifically targeted by racist abuse during a Champions League game between Man City and CSKA Moscow.
5. Fans Will Be Able to Travel to Russia Without Visas
Russia plans to take the FIFA World Cup a step further in some areas. For example, we passed a federal law, establishing a special visa regime for foreigners who will help to organize the 2018 Championship, and enabling not only the official participants, such as the athletes, referees, coaches and others, but also the fans to visit Russia without visas before and during the competition. The history of football championships has never seen anything like this before.
Putin, speaking to the Voice of Russia, added that Russia’s successful hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi showed how capable his country is.