Cheers rang out throughout France for each of goals in the final, which has transformed the young team into national icons 20 years after the country’s first World Cup triumph.
“MERCI” the president wrote in tweet after the match which saw him pictured celebrating wildly in the stands The 2018 World Cup was one of the most surprising and exciting in years, from Russia’s opening 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia to France and Croatia’s six-goal thriller in the final. The big teams, and their biggest stars, mostly flamed out early, while a host of outsiders made deep runs. It wasn’t the most popular decision to hold this year’s World Cup in Russia, but it’s been very successful. Now thoughts turn to Qatar in four years with that decision even less popular. FIFA are hoping to solve one of the problems by moving the time of year of the tournament. Infantino has confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will take place between the 21st of November and 18th of December. “Leagues around the world have been informed already, and of course they will have to adapt,” he said. “It means leagues will have to break for several weeks before the tournament to allow national teams to have time with their players in the build up to the tournament and for several weeks after in order to give them a break.” The switch to a tournament in the European winter is due to the searing summer heat in the Gulf nation, but the change will cause disruption to domestic competitions around the world. Qatar’s weather still averages around 20 degrees Celsius in November. The decision has already been made to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from the current 32 for the 2026 edition in the US, Mexico and Canada, although there is ongoing discussion as to whether this could be brought forward and introduced in Qatar. Gianni Infantino said that as things stood, the next World Cup would follow the 32-team format, but that there was room for discussion with various stakeholders. “In the coming months, we will meet with them [Qatar] and adopt a decision. For the moment, it will be played with 32 teams and the distribution of spots will remain as they are, Infantino said. “First we will discuss with the Qataris and then with the FIFA Council and stakeholders.