World Cup 2018 Stadiums & Stats

world cup
Deutsche Bundespost via Wikimedia Commons

The FIFA World Cup is nicknamed ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ because, in footballing terms, that’s exactly what it is. If the Champions League is the pinnacle of club level football then the World Cup is as good as it gets as far as international football is concerned.

This section of the website is dedicated to telling you all about the World Cup and the stadiums that will be used throughout the next tournament in Russia 2018. We’ll tell you about its history, the most famous tournaments, the rules of qualification and participation and the types of stadiums that have been used to host finals in years gone by. Since 1930 the World Cup has been the highlight of international football and we’ll be letting you know all about why that’s the case.

Click on the stadiums below to read a full guide.

World Cup 2018 Stadiums

Stadium Year Opened Capacity Ave Attendance Record Attendance Record Attendance Match
Cosmos Arena
FC Krylia Sovetov Samara
2018 44,918
Ekaterinburg Arena
FC Ural
1957 35,696 4,617 27,000 FC Ural v FC Khimki (2011)
Fisht Olympic Stadium
2013 47,659 30,472 37,923 Germany v Mexico (2017)
Kaliningrad Stadium
FC Baltika Kaliningrad
2017 35,212 4,594 -
Kazan Arena
FC Rubin Kazan
2013 45,105 11,871 42,951 Rubin Kazan v Liverpool (2015)
Krestovsky Stadium
Zenit St. Petersburg
2017 64,287 49,708 44,578 Chile v Germany (2017)
Luzhniki Stadium
1956 81,000 102,538 USSR v Italy (1963)
Mordovia Arena
FC Mordovia Saransk
2017 44,442
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
2017 44,899
Otkritie Arena
Spartak Moscow
2014 45,360 30,077 44,884 Spartak v CSKA (2016)
Rostov Arena
FC Rostov
2018 45,000
Volgograd Arena
FC Rotor Volgograd
2017 45,568

Group Stages

Group A

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
RussiavS Arabia14th June, 16:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium
EgyptvUruguay15th June, 13:00YekaterinburgKestovsky Stadium
RussiavEgypt19th June, 19:00St PetersburgEkaterinburg Arena
UruguayvS Arabia20th June, 16:00RostovRostov Arena
UruguayvRussia25th June, 15:00SamaraCosmos Arena
S ArabiavEgypt25th June, 15:00VolgogradVolgograd Arena

Group B

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
MoroccovIran15th June, 16:00St PetersburgKestovsky Stadium
PortugalvSpain15th June, 19:00ScohiFisht Olympic Stadium
MoroccovPortugal20th June, 13:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium
IranvSpain20th June, 19:00KazanKazan Arena
IranvPortugal25th June, 19:00SaranskMordovia Arena
SpainvMorocco25th June, 19:00KaliningradKaliningrad Stadium

Group C

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
FrancevAustralia16th June, 11:00KazanKazan Arena
PeruvDenmark16th June, 17:00SaranskMordovia Arena
DenmarkvAustralia21st June, 13:00SamaraCosmos Arena
FrancevPeru21st June, 16:00YekaterinburgEkaterinburg Arena
DenmarkvFrance26th June, 15:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium
AustraliavPeru26th June, 15:00ScohiFisht Olympic Stadium

Group D

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
ArgentinavIceland16th June, 14:00MoscowOtkritie Arena
CroatiavNigeria16th June, 20:00KaliningradKaliningrad Stadium
ArgentinavCroatia21st June, 19:00Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod
NigeriavIceland22nd June, 16:00VolgogradVolgograd Arena
NigeriavArgentina26th June, 19:00St PetersburgKestovsky Stadium
IcelandvCroatia26th June, 19:00RostovRostov Arena

Group E

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Costa RicavSerbia17th June, 13:00SamaraCosmos Arena
BrazilvSwitzerland17th June, 19:00RostovRostov Arena
BrazilvCosta Rica22nd June, 13:00St PetersburgKestovsky Stadium
SerbiavSwitzerland22nd June, 19:00KaliningradKaliningrad Stadium
SerbiavBrazil27th June, 19:00MoscowOtkritie Arena
SwitzerlandvCosta Rica27th June, 19:00Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod

Group F

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
GermanyvMexico17th June, 16:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium
SwedenvSouth Korea18th June, 13:00Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod
South KoreavMexico23rd June, 16:00RostovRostov Arena
GermanyvSweden23rd June, 19:00ScohiFisht Olympic Stadium
South KoreavGermany27th June, 15:00KazanKazan Arena
MexicovSweden27th June, 15:00YekaterinburgEkaterinburg Arena

Group G

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
BelgiumvPanama18th June, 16:00ScohiFisht Olympic Stadium
TunisiavEngland18th June, 19:00VolgogradVolgograd Arena
BelgiumvTunisia23rd June, 13:00MoscowOtkritie Arena
EnglandvPanama24th June, 13:00Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod
EnglandvBelgium28th June, 19:00KaliningradKaliningrad Stadium
PanamavTunisia28th June, 19:00SaranskMordovia Arena

Group H

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
ColombiavJapan19th June, 13:00MoscowOtkritie Arena
PolandvSenegal19th June, 16:00SaranskMordovia Arena
JapanvSenegal24th June, 16:00YekaterinburgEkaterinburg Arena
PolandvColombia24th June, 19:00KazanKazan Arena
JapanvPoland28th June, 15:00VolgogradVolgograd Arena
SenegalvColombia28th June, 15:00SamaraCosmos Arena

Future Rounds

Round of 16

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
C WinnervD Second30th June, 15:00KazanKazan Arena
A WinnervB Second30th June, 19:00ScohiFisht Olympic Stadium
B WinnervA Second1st July, 15:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium
D WinnervC Second1st July, 19:00Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod
E WinnervF Second2nd July, 15:00SamaraCosmos Arena
G WinnervH Second2nd July, 19:00RostovRostov Arena
F WinnervE Second3rd July, 15:00St PetersburgKestovsky Stadium
H WinnervG Second3rd July, 19:00MoscowOtkritie Arena

Quarter Finals

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Winner 1vWinner 16th July, 15:00Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod
Winner 5vWinner 66th July, 19:00KazanKazan Arena
Winner 7vWinner 87th July, 15:00SamaraCosmos Arena
Winner 3vWinner 47th July, 19:00ScohiFisht Olympic Stadium

Semi Finals

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Winner Q1vWinner Q210th July, 19:00St PetersburgKestovsky Stadium
Winner Q3vWinner Q411th July, 19:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium

Third Place Play Off

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Loser S1vLoser S214th July, 15:00St PetersburgKestovsky Stadium

World Cup 2018 Final - Sunday 10th July 20:00

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Winner S1vWinner S215th July, 16:00MoscowLuzhniki Stadium

Tournament Format


Qualification for the World Cup involves tournaments within the tournament. It is decided in advance how many teams will be competing in the tournament proper, with 32 being the number taking part since 1998. The initial stages of qualification, then, are about thinning down the field from 209 countries eligible to get involved to the amount needed to head to the finals.

FIFA is broken up into six different continental zones. These are, namely, Africa, North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Oceania and Europe. How many teams qualify from each zone for the World Cup is decided in advance and is based around the relative strength and competitiveness of of the teams in each confederation. The only team to get an automatic place in the tournament proper is the host nation; since 2006 not even the previous tournament’s winners get a free pass. If two or more nations jointly host the World Cup then they both get a place.

Using the 2018 World Cup as an example UEFA, the European body, will have 13 places available, with Russia qualifying as the host nation. CAF, for Africa, will have 5 places whilst AFC, for Asia will have 4. CONMEBOL, the South American governing body, will also have four berths in the final and CONCACAF, the North and Central American and Caribbean organisation, will have 3. Finally, there will be 2 places in the finals for winners of play-offs between the top team from the OFC, the Oceanic body, and additional teams from CONCACAF, AFC and CONMEBOL.

Just to add further confusion to the whole thing, each confederation is allowed their own format of qualification for the World Cup finals. In 2014, for example, here’s a rough guide to how each governing body went about awarding the places for the tournament to the countries in their jurisdiction:

FIFA Confederations
FIFA Confederations - By EOZyo (Based on File:BlankMap-World6,_compact.svg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Continental Confederation Qualification Formats
AfricaA preliminary round narrowed the possible teams from 52 to 40 before these teams played each other in round-robin matches in 10 groups of 4 teams. The 10 winners played against each other at random, with the winners of those games qualifying for the finals.
AsiaTwo knockout rounds reduced the 43 eligible teams to 20. A group stage then pitted 5 groups of 4 teams against each other with the winners and runners-up going into two groups of 5. The winners and runners-up of that group went to the World Cup and the two third-placed teams faced each other for a spot in an inter-confederation play-off.
EuropeThe 53 eligible teams were split into 9 groups. The group winners qualified for the World Cup and the best 8 runners-up played two-legged ties against each other, with the 4 winners qualifying too.
North and Central America and the Caribbean Preliminary matches reduced the 35 teams that were eligible to 30. 24 teams played in 6 groups of 4, with the 6 strongest teams from the 30 receiving byes. The 6 winners joined them in a second group stage. Those 12 teams played in 3 groups of 4 and the top two teams from each advanced to a final group of 6. The top three teams went to the World Cup and the fourth placed team entered the inter-confederations play-off.
OceaniaThe 2011 Pacific Games decided which teams would advance to a group stage to play with New Zealand. That was called the 2012 OFC Nations Cup and the winner entered the inter-confederations play-off.
South AmericaThe least complicated confederation, South America had a single group of all the nations that didn’t qualify automatically - or everyone except Brazil, basically. The top four teams went to the finals and the fifth placed team entered the inter-confederations play-off.

The Group Stage

The format of the World Cup as it currently is has been in place since 1998. Once the 32 teams for the finals have been chosen by their respective confederations they are split into eight different groups, each containing four nationals teams. Eight teams get seeded for the group stage, with the hosts getting seeded automatically and the other seven teams seeded according to a complicated formula that works out the FIFA World Rankings of the teams and their previous World Cup performances.

The eight seeds are each put into a pot for the group draw, with the remaining 24 teams separated into the different pots based on based on their geographical location. Teams are drawn from each pot at random to decide the make-up of the different groups. No group will feature more than two European teams or more than one team from the other confederations.

The group is then played out in a round-robin style ‘mini-tournament’, during which each team plays three games against the other teams at random venues somewhere in the host nation. The final group game takes place at the same time in order to ensure no team has an advantage of knowing whether or not they’ve made it our of the group before a ball is kicked. The top two teams of each group make it through to the knockout stage of the tournament.

The Knockout Stages

Unlike with most knockout tournaments, the path to the competition’s final is worked out before the World Cup itself begins. It is decided in advance that the winners of Group A will play the runners-up of Group H, for example. The winners of Group B will play the runners-up of Group G and so on. That means that teams often know that they will get an easier draw in the last-sixteen phase of the competition if they qualify for the knockout stages as group winners.

The knockout stage is a series of one-off matches, with the outcome of the game decided on the day of the match without the need for a replay. That means that if the game is a draw at the end of 90 minutes of play then it will go a period of extra-time. If the result is still undecided then a penalty shoot-out will take place.

As the route to the final has already been decided before the knockout stage gets underway teams know who they may face in the quarter-finals. For example, the winner of Match A will play the winner of Match H etc. That system continues all the way to the final, with the semi-final matches worked out in the same manner. The knockout matches will, as is the habit in tournaments, result in just two teams left standing who will compete in the final.

The Final

Germany 2014 World Cup Winners
Germany 2014 World Cup Winners - By Danilo Borges/Portal da Copa Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil ([1]) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The two teams that were victorious in the semi-final stage go up against each other in the World Cup final. This is the showpiece event of the entire tournament and is regularly watched by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Just like with the earlier rounds, the final of the World Cup is a one-off match that will not go to a replay. The winner of the tournament is decided on the day, with extra-time and penalties employed if necessary.

Unlike with most tournaments in club football, the third and fourth placed teams are also decided in the World Cup. This involves the two teams that lost in the semi-final stage playing against each other. The winner of this game is declared to have finished third and the loser finishes fourth. The loser of the final itself is the second-placed team and, somewhat self-explanatorily, the World Cup winners are the first-placed team.

Previous Winners

YearHostFinal ResultStadiumAttendance
2014BrazilGermanyvArgentina1-0 AETEstádio do Maracanã74,738
2010South AfricaSpainvHolland1-0 AETSoccer City84,490
2006GermanyItalyvFrance1-1 5-3POlympiastadion69,000
2002S Korea / JapanBrazilvGermany2-0International Stadium69,029
1998FranceFrancevBrazil3-0Stade De France80,000
1994USABrazilvItaly0-0 3-2PRose Bowl94,194
1990ItalyGermanyvArgentina1-0Stadio Olimpico73,603
1986MexicoArgentinavGermany3-2Estadio Azteca114,600
1978ArgentinaArgentinavHolland3-1 AETEstadio Monumental71,483
1970MexicoBrazilvItaly4-1Estadio Azteca107,412
1966EnglandEnglandvGermany4-2 AETWembley93,000
1962ChileBrazilvCzech3-1Estadio Nacional69,000
1958SwedenBrazilvSweden5-2Råsunda Stadium51,800
1954SwitzerlandGermanyvHungary3-2Wankdorf Stadium60,000
1950,BrazilUruguayvBrazil2-1Estádio do Maracanã174,000
1938FranceItalyvHungary4-2Stade Olympique de Colombes45,000
1934ItalyItalyvCzech2-1 AETStadio Nazionale PNF50,000
1930UruguayUruguayvArgentina4-2Estadio Centenario 80,000

KEY: AET - After Extra Time, P - Penalty Shoot Out, , - Not Played During WWII

Home Nation Results

CountryAppsGamesWinsDrawsLosesHighestGoals FGoals AHosted
England1462262016Winners (1966)79561 (1966)
Wales15131Quarter Finals (1958)440
Scotland8234712Group Stage25410
N. Ireland313355Quarter Finals (1958)13230

World Cup Stats

Tournament Statisitics
First Year1930
Number Of Teams Competing32
First WinnerUruguay (1930)
Last WinnerGermany (2014)
First HostUruguay (1930)
Last HostBrazil (2014)
Next HostsRussia (2018), Quatar (2022)
Prize Money Winner$50 million (2018)
Runners-Up$40 million (2018)
Third Placed Team$30 million (2018)
Team / Country Stats
Record Number TitlesBrazil (5)
Runners-upGermany (8)
Most Top Three FinishesGermany (12)
Most World Cup AppearancesBrazil (20)
Tournament Debut ChampionsUruguay (1930), Italy (1934)
Most WinsBrazil (70)
Most Goals ScoredGermany (224)
Most Goals ConcededGermany (121)
Biggest Win All RoundsHungary 9 - South Korea 0 (1954), Yugoslavia 9 - Zaire 0 (1974), Hungary 10 - El Salvador 1 (1982)
Biggest Final WinBrazil 5 - Sweden 2 (1958), Brazil 4 - Italy 1 (1970), France 3 - Brazil 0 (1998)
Player Stats
Top Scorer FinalsMiroslav Klose (16)
Top Scorer QualifyingAli Daei (35)
Most Goals In A Single TournamentJust Fontaine (13)
Most Goals In A Single Finals GameOleg Salenko (5)
Most Goals Scored In A Qualifying GameArchie Thompson (13)
Most Tournaments Played3 - Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Lothar Matthaus (Germany)
Youngest Player To ScorePele (17 years 7 months 27 days)
Oldest Player To ScoreRoger Milla (42 years, 1 month, 8 days)

About the World Cup

In The Beginning

Estadio Centenario
Estadio Centenario, 1930 World Cup Stadium in Uruguay - By Archivo de El País ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The first international match of any kind was played between Scotland and England in Glasgow in 1872. The first international tournament also involved those teams as well as Wales and Ireland when the British Home Championship was played in 1884. The game’s popularity grew throughout the world during the late part of the 19th Century and at the 1900 and 1904 Summer Olympics matches were played as a ‘demonstration sport’, with no medals being awarded to participants.

FIFA was founded as an organisation in 1904 and in 1906 they attempted to arrange a tournament against international teams that was outside the framework of the Olympics. It didn’t really work and is largely considered to be a failure. The 1908 Summer Olympics in London saw football recognised as an official competition in the tournament for the first time, though it was only for amateurs. By 1914 FIFA finally accepted that the Olympics’ football tournament wasn’t going anywhere so they recognised it as a ‘world football championship for amateurs’ and agreed to be responsible for the event’s management.

The 1920 Summer Olympics saw the world’s first intercontinental football tournament, as Egypt went up against fourteen European teams and Belgium ran out as the overall winners. Two more Olympic Games football tournaments took place in 1924 and 1928, with Uruguay winning both of them. Such was the popularity of these tournaments that FIFA decided that they wanted a piece of the action. Still smarting from their own failed tournament in 1906, the organisation set about trying to make sure they got it right this time.

Given that Uruguay had won the last two football tournaments in the Summer Olympics it seemed only right that FIFA should ask them to host the inaugural ‘World Championship’. Jules Rimet, the organisation’s president at the time, was the major driving force behind this new World Cup and for a time it looked like it might be another failure. The cost of travelling to South America was prohibitive for European teams and up until two months before the start of the tournament it looked like none would be going.

Eventually Rimet was able to persuade Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia to head to Uruguay for the competition, with seven South American teams and two North American teams joining them in the contest. The hosts beat Argentina 4-2 in the final in Montevideo and over 93,000 people saw them become the first ever winners of the World Cup. The 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles and the lack of popularity of football in America meant that it was dropped from the IOC’s list of sports that would be competed at the event. Two more World Cups took place in 1934 and 1938 as the competition became more prestigious than football in the Olympics, but the 1942 and 1946 World Cups were both cancelled because of the Second World War and it’s aftermath.

After The War And The Competition’s Expansion

1950 Uruguay Team
1950 Uruguay Team - By Bildbyrån (AIK Fotboll) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The World Cup resumed as a contest in 1950. It was hosted by Brazil and was the first of the tournaments to feature British teams. British teams had actually not been part of FIFA since 1920 as they were unwilling to play matches against countries that they had been at war with and they were also unimpressed with the influence of foreign countries on a game that they felt they had invented. They returned to the FIFA family in 1946 and so the 1950 tournament was the first they were able to compete in. It also saw the return of Uruguay who had boycotted the previous two tournaments, with the South American country going on to beat the hosts in the final.

Between 1934 and 1978 the World Cup was competed between sixteen teams, apart from in 1938 when Austria got absorbed into Germany after the qualifying phase meaning that only fifteen teams took part. Also, in 1950, India, Scotland and Turkey withdrew meaning that only thirteen teams played. The majority of the teams that played in the World Cup were from Europe and South America. Very few participants were from North America, Asia, Oceania or Africa.

In 1982 a decision was taken to expand the competition to 24 teams. This remained the case until 1998 when it was expanded once more to allow 32 teams to take part. The idea was that more teams from the likes of Africa and Asia would be able to take part if the competition was expanded in this way. Whilst that is exactly what happens, European and South American teams continue to dominate the World Cup to this day.

1966 And All That

world cup 1966
By National Media Museum from UK [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Speak to any Englishman about the World Cup and only one thing will be on their mind. In 1966 England hosted the World Cup finals for the only time in the competition’s history to date. The hosts finished top of their group and qualified for the knockout stages with Uruguay. They were drawn to play Argentina in the quarter-finals and bear them 1-0 at Wembley, earning the right to face Portugal in the semi-finals after they’d beaten North Korea 5-3 in the quarters. England won 2-1, putting them through to the final of the World Cup for the first time.

In the other strand of matches West Germany had beaten Uruguay 4-0 in the quarters and the Soviet Union 2-1 in the semis, setting up a clash between the old enemy that would be the ultimate showdown on a football pitch for the first time since the end of the Second World War. With Portugal beating the Soviet Union 2-1 for third place the stage was set for a blockbuster final and neither team disappointed.

Helmut Haller gave West Germany the lead after just 12 minutes before Geoff Hurst equalised 6 minutes later. Martin Peters thought he’d won it for the home nation when he struck after 78 minutes, but Wolfgang Weber struck just a minute from the whistle being blown to send the game to extra-time.

Extra-time was a close affair up until Hurst scored to put England 3-2 up. Or did he? Even to this day there remains some controversy over Hurst’s goal which was awarded after the ball struck the crossbar and appeared to cross the line. Computers have since been used to reconstruct the event, which was the last World Cup final to be broadcast in black and white, and they suggest it didn’t cross the line. Regardless Hurst struck again two minutes before the end of extra-time to put the game beyond doubt and led to the match commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme, delivering a line that has gone down in folklore. As a celebratory pitch invasion began just before Hurst scored he said, “Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over. It is now!”

World Cup Stadiums

2014 World Cup Final
2014 World Cup Final, Germany Vs. Argentina - By Danilo Borges/ Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The host nation or nations of the World Cup suggest which stadiums will be used for the competition when they tender their bid to host the competition. In some cases, such as when Brazil hosted the tournament in 2014, this involves brand new stadiums that don’t exist yet being built in time for the arrival or the world’s best teams.

Ordinarily the final of the World Cup is held in the largest and most prestigious stadium in the country. When England hosted to tournament in 1966, for example, the final was held in the old Wembley Stadium with 96,924 people in attendance. The Estadio Centenario in Uruguay hosed the first ever World Cup final and 80,000 people watched the hosts bear Argentina, Whilst an incredible 174,000 supporters packed into the Estadio do Maracana in Brazil to watch the same team beat the hosts in 1950.

That is the best attended final to date, with the next closest seeing 114,600 attend the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City in order to watch Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in 1986, the year that Maradona’s famous ‘Hand Of God’ goal knocked England out. Only three stadiums have held the World Cup final more than once. The Estadio Azteca did so in 1970 and 1986, the Estadio do Maracana did so in 1950 and 2014 and the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany, hosted the 1974 and 2006 finals. The most amusing name of a stadium that has hosted a World Cup final is the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland that was used for the 1954 tournament.