Football fans rejoice! The long-awaited 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off this week in Russia! It’s been four years since the last tournament, and the thirty-two teams who made the cut are hoping to claim the World Cup Champion title. It’ll be a month before we find out who the world champion is, so in the meantime, here are a few interesting facts about the World Cup for you to ponder:
1. The FIFA World Cup began in 1930 and has taken place every four years since, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 because of World War II.
2. The hosting country automatically gets a spot in the World Cup, so technically only thirty-one, not thirty-two, spots are up for grabs.
3. Approximately 200 nation teams compete in the World Cup.
4. This year’s mascot is a football-playing wolf named Zabivaka.
5. For the first time since 1986, the United States did not make it to the World Cup.
6. The 2026 host country was recently announced, and it’s not one, but three countries who will be hosting the tournament. The United States, Canada, and Mexico will join forces to host the World Cup together.
7. Brazil has won five World Cup tournaments—the most in World Cup history—followed by Italy and Germany with four wins each. It’s no surprise that Brazil and Germany, along with France and Spain, are early favorites to win this year’s World Cup.