World Cup Daily Digest: It’s Here!
The waiting is finally over, and 32 teams are ready to battle for the biggest prize in world football.
World Cup 2018 is about to get underway as Russia take on Saudi Arabia.
Here are some of the stories dominating the headlines ahead of the big kick off in Russia…
And the 2026 World Cup goes to...
The Americas dream team of US/Canada/Mexico, which, as expected, saw off Morocco’s bid to clinch the next-but-one World Cup by 134 votes to 65.
The publicity likely to be generated by the event looks to be a massive fillip for the MLS, with the US hosting over 60 of the tournament’s games.
And the award for biggest pre-tournament meltdown goes to…
Surprisingly it’s Spain, not usual suspects France, who seem to be having a major pre-tournament bust up, with the Spanish FA opting to sack Julen Lopetegui just days before their crucial Group B encounter with Portugal. The 2010 winners will surely now rely on senior figureheads such as Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta to keep the dressing room calm after a stormy 48 hours.
Former Bolton star Fernando Hierro has the unenviable task of stepping up at the last minute to steady the ship – could he end up writing his name in to the history as the accidental World Cup-winning manager?
Collina hands VAR the initiative
The days of whingeing at the linesman might well be coming to an end after the 2018 World Cup.
Refereeing supremo Pierluigi Collina has revealed linesmen will be asked to keep their flag down for marginal offside calls at this year’s tournament. It will be left to VAR to make the decision if the action results in a goal.
Collina built his reputation as one of the most respected – and terrifying – referees – of all time, so expect limited flag activity this summer.
Surprise outbreak of US World Cup fever arrives in Russia
Today is a bittersweet day for fans of the USMNT team. The disappointment of failing to reach Russia has been cushioned by the good news that the US will be welcoming the world’s biggest festival of football in 2026, alongside their nearest neighbours.
And if ticket sales for Russia 2018 are anything to go by, FIFA could have made a very canny decision, as surprisingly the USA will send more supporters to Russia than any other nation, despite a lack of home interest.
Over 88,000 tickets have gone to US-based fans, with Brazil (73,000) and Colombia (65,000) taking second and third spot in terms of visiting spectators.
Robbie’s Russian comeback
And finally, details have been drip-fed out as to what we can expect from today’s opening ceremony – and a familiar face to UK audiences will be leading the celebrations.
Fresh from his turn at Soccer Aid, Robbie Williams has agreed to perform ahead of the curtain-raiser between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Let’s hope he entertains us before the main event begins…