Even though Brazil's chance in the spotlight isn't over yet with the 2014 World Cup still going on, 30 of the 32 national teams that competed are already looking ahead to Russia.
Nearly four years separate us from Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup. But the host nation has been known since 2010, and plans have been in the works for quite some time as to how they will host one of the world's marquee sporting events.
Even though the past month has seen Brazil take center stage, the Russian Federation have been doing more than keeping a close eye on this summer's World Cup. According to FIFA.com, they sent a delegation of more than 100 people to Brazil for observation. LOC chairman and Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko explained:
Brazil's FIFA World Cup is, in essence, our main and only opportunity to observe in real time how a tournament is held. That’s why we have devised a special programme that will encompass practically all those involved in preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, so that they can see for themselves what we are facing in four years' time.
Hosting a World Cup is a first not only for Russia but for the entire region; 2018 is the first time that a World Cup will be hosted in Eastern Europe.
Here is a look at the 11 host cities:
|Saint Petersburg||Zenit Arena|
|Moscow||Luzhniki Stadium, Otkritie Arena|
|Nizhny Novgorod||Strelka Stadium|
|Sochi||Fisht Olympic Stadium|
Russia will feature one less host city than the 12 that Brazil boasted, but there will be just as many stadiums. With Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the soon-to-be-opened Otkritie Arena nearby, there will be two stadiums in the nation's capital.
As is the norm with countries hosting a World Cup, the Russians face serious construction work to build new stadiums and revamp others. And they're taking preventative measures to make sure those get done in a timely fashion—especially after Brazil's struggles in getting their stadiums ready for 2014.
They are installing video surveillance systems at each of the sites to keep up with the progress.
“The video surveillance system will be vital for monitoring construction of the 2018 World Cup stadiums. We intend to keep strict control over both stadium construction schedules and compliance with the stadium requirements set out by FIFA,” Mutko said, per FIFA.
FIFA released the following video to help illustrate the upcoming World Cup:
While Russia has long decided where they will host the tournament and been in the planning process, most teams won't know if they will be a part of the action until the conclusion of a long and arduous qualifying process.
FIFA announced that the preliminary draw would take place on July 24 or 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Of course, ever since 1998, the World Cup has maintained 32 national teams being involved in the action. But when the 2014 World Cup ends, it might also mark the end of the 32-team tournament.
Should FIFA expand the World Cup to 40 teams?
UEFA President Michel Platini made clear of his and FIFA President Sepp Blatter's interest in expanding the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams, as reported by Reuters. The thinking is that expanding the tournament by eight teams will allow for more African and Asian representation without taking other spots away.
Just days and weeks after they were ousted from play in Brazil, many national teams and players have already been tied to the 2018 World Cup, per Mirror's Jack Lang and ESPN FC:
Neymar asked if he'd like to wake up just before Russia 2018 (!). "I'd like to wake up and be on field with my team-mates. That's all." #BRA— Jack Lang (@snap_kaka_pop) July 10, 2014
Although the United States' young roster will look kindly toward 2018 and Brazilian star Neymar will be out for redemption, the biggest buzz around any World Cup tends to revolve around the host nation. In Russia, it should be no different.
The efforts made by the Russian Federation to bring in Fabio Capello for 2014 didn't pay off, and they suffered a group-stage exit. With a free qualification and the emotional boost of playing at home, however, hopes will be high for Russia entering 2018.
Russia might not boast the same footballing history as Brazil, but come 2018, they will have their very own opportunity to be in the spotlight.
Note: Information courtesy of FIFA's 2018 World Cup site unless otherwise noted.
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