Remembering the best stories of the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Recapping a memorable and momentous month in Russia

Antoine Griezmann, Luka Modric and Domagoj Vida at the 2018 World Cup.
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From June to July, students across the globe escaped the realities of their summer jobs and classes to passionately support their favourite national teams at the 2018 FIFA world cup.

With massive upsets, goals that took our breaths away, and more penalty kick shootouts than we could handle, this past World Cup will surely be remembered as one of the best in the tournament’s celebrated history. 

If you didn’t catch the whole thing, don’t stress it. The Journal recapped some of the most notable and unforgettable storylines at this year’s World Cup. 

France triumphs on the grandest of stages

One by one, the world’s greatest soccer powers—Germany, Spain, and Brazil—were knocked out until the pool of eligible world cup winners was narrowed down to France and Croatia, who proved to be two of the most exciting teams in the tournament.

Led by star striker Antoine Griezmann and lightning-fast 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, Les Bleus came into the finals in dominant fashion, conceding just one loss throughout the tournament.  

Surprise finalist Croatia—led by eventual Golden Ball winner Luka Modric and dynamic striker Mario Mandzukic—were fresh off three come-from-behind victories in the knockout stages, two coming by way of penalty kicks.

Although Croatia managed to tie the score 1-1 in the 28th minute, they were ultimately unable to work their comeback magic for a fourth straight match. The perfectly executed French counterattack resulted in their winning 4-2. 

If their play in the tournament was any indication, France was as worthy a world cup winner as any. They recorded four clean sheets in seven total games and had the highest shot-conversion rate of all participating teams. 

France’s win over Croatia marked their second world cup victory. With a young core of Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Samuel Umtiti, France fans may not need to wait much longer to see a repeat performance.

Croatia’s Domagoj Vida sparks political outrage

The Croatian national team’s improbable run to the finals was nearly soured by a controversy surrounding defender Domagoj Vida.

After Croatia’s quarter final victory over host country Russia, video emerged of Vida shouting, “Glory to Ukraine” and, “Belgrade burns” alongside his team’s coach, Ognjen Vukojevic. 

Upon release, the video sparked outrage amongst Russian supporters, demanding accountability and penalties for what many viewed as political provocation. 

FIFA handed Vida a formal warning and Vukojevic was fired by the Croatian team to avoid further conflict. This was the second politically-charged penalty imposed during the tournament, after three Swiss players were fined for making hand gestures reminiscent of the Albanian flag during a group stage match against Serbia.

VAR makes its international debut

Coming off the heels of goal line technology at the 2014 World Cup, this year’s event introduced the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) to aid in a referee’s often difficult decision-making. 

Using this year’s World Cup as testing grounds, VAR reviews a head referee’s decisions through video footage and headset communication.  It was used in numerous controversial in-game situations to accurately catch and call handballs, penalty kicks, and dives.

According to FIFA, 99 per cent of the 335 VAR-reviewed incidents in the world cup’s group stages were successful. The current correct call rate for referees hovers at 95 per cent. 

Although rendering near perfect calls, critics of VAR claimed it led to lengthy stoppages in games and placed heaps of pressure on referees to go back on their word and overturn calls. 

United bid wins 2026 World Cup

The World Cup is coming to Canada. 

A collective bid between Canada, the United States and Mexico edged out Morocco at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow to host the 2026 World Cup. It marks the first time the tournament will be hosted on Canadian soil. 

Although entered as a combined bid, the US will host a majority of the matches (60), while Canada and Mexico have been allotted 10 games each. Toronto, Edmonton, and Montreal will host domestic matches.

Canada has not made an appearance at the World Cup since 1986 but, as hosts, will earn an automatic place in the tournament. 

Only eight years away, Canada will hope to develop a skilled and competitive team that can proudly represent the nation at home. 

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