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The World Cup: A Numbers Game


Russia's Yury Gazinsky celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14 in Moscow. Russia won 5-0.
Russia's Yury Gazinsky celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14 in Moscow. Russia won 5-0.

The 21st edition of the World Cup has kicked off in Russia, with the hosts beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 at the newly refurbished 80,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The competition will last for more than one month, with the final scheduled match to be held at the same stadium on July 15.

The event features 32 teams, including holders Germany, competing in 64 games over 32 days.

The games will be played in 12 stadiums, across 11 cities, spread over 2,900 kilometers.

Some more numbers:

The number of kilometers between the westernmost (Kaliningrad) and easternmost (Yekaterinburg) host cities in Russia. About same distance between Moscow and London.

The number of continents -- Europe, Asia -- this year's international soccer showcase will span, marking a first for the World Cup.

Tickets sold ahead of the tournament, which will kick off on June 14 with a match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Number of tickets sold in the United States, which did not qualify for the tourney for the first time since 1986. The number of tickets sold was second only to Russia, and just above soccer powerhouse and tournament favorite Brazil.

This is the first World Cup in which referees will have power to stop or even end a game over racist or other discriminatory incidents.

The official ticket price in euros for the final, to be played on July 15 at Luzhniki. For the last final, played four years ago in Brazil, a ticket to the match officially cost 730 euros.

Number of signatures collected urging leniency for a Russian woman nabbed in a police sting and charged with trademark violations for crafting three costumes that resemble the tournament's official mascot, Zabivaka.

The number of cameras (35 in the round of 16) dedicated to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system. VAR will be making its World Cup debut, with four referees monitoring each match from a broadcast facility outside Moscow to aid the three-man crews on the field.

People who will work without pay during the World Cup in Russia: 17,000 as FIFA volunteers, plus another 18,000 recruited by local authorities in each of the 11 Russian host cities.

FIFA has approved the use of a fourth player substitute, but only if extra time is played.

Number of countries participating in the World Cup that decided not to send an official delegation to attend. The United Kingdom is protesting the poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter. Open Democracy has called for a diplomatic boycott of the games until Russia frees Ukrainian political prisoners.

Number of people who signed an online petition demanding that the Russian government cancel efforts to "eliminate" stray cats and dogs ahead of the tournament. The same thing was done ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The number of dollars the World Cup was over budget, according to an official announcement by Russian authorities in October 2017. The overall bill was 678 billion rubles ($10.7 billion) for an event whose preparations have been accompanied by allegations of corruption and stadium cost overruns.

Number of construction workers who died while working on stadium sites in preparation for the World Cup.

Most World Cups won (Brazil in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002)

Highest number of goals scored in a World Cup match (Austria 7, Switzerland 5 in the 1954 quarterfinal).

The population of Iceland, the smallest nation to ever qualify for a World Cup.

17 years, 41 days
The age of the youngest player to ever appear at a World Cup (Norman Whiteside of Northern Ireland in 1982).

45 years, 5 months
The age that Essam El-Hadary will be when Egypt begins its campaign against Uruguay. If he plays in Russia he will break Faryd Mondragon's record (43 years and three days) to become the oldest player ever to appear in a World Cup match.

Most goals scored in a World Cup tournament (Just Fontaine, France, in 1958).

Most goals scored by one player in a World Cup match (Russia's Oleg Salenko against Cameroon in 1994).

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    Tony Wesolowsky

    Tony Wesolowsky is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL in Prague, covering Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, and Central Europe, as well as energy issues. His work has also appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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