England and Croatia will face off Wednesday for the chance to advance to the World Cup final, and the anticipation couldn't be higher.
England is hoping to continue its best World Cup run since 1990, while Croatia is crossing its fingers for its first-ever shot at the final. Legions of Britons are already cheering about the cup "coming home," and The Guardian reports that an estimated 30,000 rabid fans will turn out to watch the match at London's Hyde Park. British Prime Minister Theresa May joined the football fever in her own diplomatic way, exchanging national jerseys with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at the NATO summit. Looking for the biggest possible display of support for the Three Lions, other fans are spelling "it's coming home" on their daily jogs, dressing as 12th-century English Crusaders, and playing the now-anthemic song "Three Lions (Football's Coming Home)" on repeat.
— Felix Gott (@Felixgott) July 8, 2018
England is slightly favored in the match — but scrappy Croatia hasn't lost in the tournament yet this year, and boasts more tournament goal-scorers on its roster than both England and France, which punched its ticket to the final Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Belgium. Croatian fans are promising to be "very loud" despite their nation's small population, with soccer enthusiasts rushing to get to Moscow to don their Croatian-flag water polo hats in time for the match.
The semifinal match between England and Croatia begins at 2 p.m. EST, while the championship will take place Sunday, July 15. Summer Meza
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is already a travesty. The government has been severely criticized for using virtual slave labor to build the new infrastructure required for the tournament, which for the first time in history will be played in November and December, thanks to Qatar reneging on a promise to build air-conditioned facilities that could withstand the blistering summers in the Persian Gulf.
Now the regime has arrested a crew of BBC reporters for investigating the living conditions of Nepali laborers:
The working and housing conditions of migrant workers constructing new buildings in Qatar ahead of the World Cup have been heavily criticized and we wanted to see them for ourselves.
Suddenly, eight white cars surrounded our vehicle and directed us on to a side road at speed.
A dozen security officers frisked us in the street, shouting at us when we tried to talk. They took away our equipment and hard drives and drove us to their headquarters.
Later, in the city's main police station, the cameraman, translator, driver, and I were interrogated separately by intelligence officers. The questioning was hostile. [BBC]
They were eventually released. The BBC is demanding "a full explanation and for the return of the confiscated equipment." Ryu Spaeth
Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup through an array of underhanded means, including bribing French soccer legend Michel Platini with a painting by Picasso, according to The Sunday Times of London.
A painting, believed to be a Picasso, was allegedly gifted to Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president and FIFA executive member Michel Platini in return for his support for the eventually successful Russian bid for the 2018 global showpiece.
Another FIFA voting member, Michel D'Hooghe, from Belgium, was also the recipient of a landscape painting, given to him in a package wrapped in brown paper by Viacheslav Koloskov, a former Russian executive committee member working for his nation's attempt to host the 2018 tournament, it is alleged in a report in The Sunday Times. [CNN]
The report is the latest to allege corruption within global soccer's governing body. A recent report from FIFA found little wrongdoing in the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, despite the many claims to the contrary. Ryu Spaeth
The 2018 World Cup has its official emblem, and its reveal was out of this world.
— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) October 28, 2014
During a television program airing Tuesday night, three astronauts in the Russian space station unveiled the colorful design at the same time it was projected onto the front of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
— Jérôme Valcke (@jeromevalcke) October 28, 2014
Soccer's biggest event will be held in 11 different cities across Russia in June and July 2018, and the emblem was said to be inspired by "Russia's rich artistic tradition and its history of achievement and innovation." Catherine Garcia
German midfielder Mesut Özil plans to spend his ample World Cup winnings not on himself, but on surgeries for 23 Brazilian children. Özil helped cover the surgeries of 11 children before the World Cup began, and used the $600,000 payout from winning the tournament to bump that total up to 23 — matching the number of players on the German team.
"This is my personal thank you for the hospitality of the people of Brazil," Özil wrote on his Facebook page to announce the donation.
Previous reports claimed Özil would be donating the money to children in Gaza, though a spokesman denied the claim. "Maybe in the future, who knows?" his rep, Roland Eitel, told The Independent. "He donated money to causes in Brazil and he is now on holiday." Jon Terbush
For the fourth time, Germany are the World Cup champions.
Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in a thrilling final match that needed extra time to decide a winner. In the 113th minute, Mario Gotze corralled the ball off his chest and, without letting it hit the turf, slipped a shot into the far corner for the game's lone goal.
Germany played the aggressor for most of the game, keeping possession for 54 percent of the match and repeatedly pressing forward with scoring chances.
Germany last won the World Cup in 1990 — when they beat Argentina 1-0. Jon Terbush
It won't quite be the 7-1 thrashing they laid on Brazil, but Germany will win the World Cup 3-1 over Argentina, according to a simulation of FIFA's eponymous video game. It must be true: This random psychic puppy predicted Germany would win, too. --Jon Terbush
The U.S. men's soccer team was "determined," "heroic," and "courageous." At least that was how the English-language media most often described them, according to a study by the Cambridge University Press.
As for other teams in the tournament, Italy was most frequently called "slow" and "vulnerable," while Russia was portrayed as "drab." The most common word associated with Ghana was "money." (The team made headlines by threatening to boycott a game against Portugal unless they were paid ahead of time.) And the Uruguayans, fronted by Luis "I crave human flesh" Suarez, got the worst coverage of anyone. The top two words tied to the team: "Bite" and "disgrace." Jon Terbush