Cliqz makes you a World Cup expert: fun facts about FIFA World Cup 2018

You want to impress family, friends or colleagues with your football expertise? No problem: We gathered interesting and curious facts about the World Cup in Russia.

Björn GreifEditor

The FIFA World Cup in Russia is entering the knockout stage. The participants of the round of 16 have been determined. The remaining 16 teams had to travel home early, including the German national team. This is the third time in a row and the fourth time in the last 20 years that the reigning World Cup champion has been eliminated in the group stage.

Before Germany, the “curse of the World Cup champions” hit France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014). Only record World Cup champion Brazil escaped in 2006 and reached the quarter-finals (0-1 vs. France).

With our World Cup widget in the Cliqz Browser for Windows and Mac you won't miss a single goal and you’ll always be well informed. It provides you with all relevant match information such as kick-off times, fixtures, and (live) results. Just open a new tab and click on the soccer ball icon in the upper left-hand corner. Or just follow this link to

Below you will find even more interesting and fun facts about the FIFA World Cup:

  • Brazil has won the most World Cup titles so far (5: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002). It thus has one more title than Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) and Germany (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014).
  • The record for most World Cup matches played (25) is held by Lothar Matthäus (GER). He’s followed by Miroslav Klose (GER, 24), Paolo Maldini (ITA, 23), Uwe Seeler (GER, 21) and Diego Maradona (ARG, 21).
  • The player who scored the most goals in World Cup history is Miroslav Klose (GER) with 16 goals in 24 matches. Other very successful scorers are Ronaldo (BRA, 15/19), Gerd Müller (GER, 14/13), Just Fontaine (FRA, 13/6) and Pelé (BRA, 12/14).
  • Russia’s Oleg Salenko scored the most goals in a single World Cup match in 1994, contributing 5 goals to the 6-1 win over Cameroon in the group stage.
  • The match with the most goals at a World Cup took place in 1954 between Austria and host Switzerland. The final score was 7-5 NOT on penalties, but after regular playing time! The total average of 5.4 goals per match at the 1954 World Cup is also likely to remain a record for eternity.
  • The World Cup match with the most cards was the round of 16 match between Portugal and the Netherlands 2006 in Nuremberg, Germany (later came to be known as the Battle of Nuremberg). The Russian referee Valentin Ivanov was forced to show 16 yellow and 4 red cards. Later he admitted that this was “the toughest match of my career.”
  • The World Cup match with the best attendance of all time is the match between Uruguay and the host Brazil at the 1950 World Cup. An unbelievable 173,850 spectators watched the match at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. By comparison, only 74,738 spectators were admitted to the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina in the modernized Maracanã Stadium.
  • 32 teams take part in the World Cup tournament. Including the automatically qualified host Russia, a total of 14 European nations are represented. In addition, there are 5 teams each from the African, Asian and South American confederations and 3 teams from North and Central America.
  • Argentina (together with Costa Rica) is the oldest team of the World Cup with an average age of 29.6 years. The youngest team in the tournament is Nigeria, with 25.9 years on average. The mean age of the reigning world champion Germany is 27.1 years, that of record world champion Brazil 28.6 years.
  • The 32 participants compete for 31 days for the World Cup trophy, which measures 14.5 inch in height and weighs 13.6 lbs. The trophy is worth around $140,000, but invaluable in sentimental value.
  • In addition to fame and glory, the world champion will receive $38 million in prize money. The loser of the final can console himself with $28 million. Those who survive the group phase will receive $12 million. This means that the prize money is about 12 percent higher than at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
  • Based on the players’ market value, the participating teams have a total market value of 10.45 billion euros. France has the most expensive squad with 1.08 billion euros, followed by Spain (1.03 billion), Brazil (981 million), Germany (883 million) and England (874 million). The squad value of the World Cup debutant Panama amounts to just 8.43 million euros. The most expensive single player is the Brazilian Neymar with an estimated market value of 180 million euros. (Source: as of 11.06.2018)
  • Approximately 2.4 million tickets were sold for the 64 matches at the 2018 World Cup. The most tickets (871,797) were bought by Russians, followed by fans from the USA (88,825), Brazil (72,512), Colombia (65,234), Germany (62,541) and Mexico (60,302).
  • A ticket for the 2018 World Cup costs between 85 and 892 euros. The official ticket prices for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were between 69 and 730 euros. On the black market, tickets for the final were traded at prices of up to 30,000 euros four years ago.
  • The largest of the 12 World Cup stadiums is the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow with a total capacity of 80,000. On July 15th, the final will also be played there. Second largest stadium is the Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg (67,000), followed by the Fisht Stadium in Sochi (44,287), where the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics took place in 2014. The smallest stadiums are the Kaliningrad Stadium and the Ekaterinburg Arena with 33,973 and 33,061 seats respectively.
  • Brazil is the only nation to have participated in every FIFA World Cup. With 20 participations to date, the South Americans have won 5 world championship titles, making them record holders. They are followed by Germany, Italy (18/4 each) and Argentina (16/2). Mexico have taken part in 15 World Cups but always left empty-handed.
  • Iceland and Panama qualified for the World Cup for the first time. Panama’s president declared October 11th, the day of successful qualification, a national holiday. 66,000 Iceland fans are said to have applied for World Cup tickets. This corresponds to 20 percent of the population of the island state – “Huh!”
  • Egypt are back in the World Cup for the first time since 1990, thanks to a last-minute goal from national hero Mo Salah, who received 5% of the vote in Egypt’s last presidential election, even though he was not even nominated.
  • Peru are back at the World Cup for the first time since 1982, overcoming the longest lean period of any team that has ever qualified before.
  • South Korea is playing its tenth World Cup and thus has the most participations of all Asian nations.
  • Nigeria qualified for the World Cup six times since its debut in 1994 – more often than any other African country.
  • This year’s World Cup host Russia has never been beyond the group stage. However, in 1966, the former Soviet Union achieved 4th place.
  • Italy did not qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
  • The USA are not qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. This is particularly annoying for Fox Sports, which paid more than $400 million for the English-language broadcast rights in the United States for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
  • Aside from Italy and the USA, other football-loving nations are also not represented at this year’s World Cup, including Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, Turkey and Venezuela.
  • The World Cup will be held for the 21st time in 2018, but for the first time in Russia.
  • For the first time the World Cup will take place on two different continents: Asia and Europe.
  • The matches will be played in twelve stadiums at eleven host cities in Russia: Moscow (two stadiums and final venue), Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Samara, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad and Sochi.
  • The distance between the most western (Kaliningrad) and the most eastern venue (Ekaterinburg) is almost 2500 km (1550 miles), roughly the distance between Moscow and London. Between the most northern (St. Petersburg) and most southern venue (Sochi) lie more than 1900 km (1180 miles), which corresponds approximately to the distance between Moscow and Munich.
  • This year’s World Cup mascot is a wolf called Zabivaka, which means “the one who scores” or “little scorer” in Russian.
  • With an estimated cost of 10 billion euros, the World Cup in Russia is considered the most expensive tournament in the history of the FIFA World Cup.

Within the next week we will add more interesting and fun facts about the world’s biggest sporting event. Stay tuned!