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The 16th Edition of the World Cup France 1998

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The 1998 FIFA World Cup was the 16th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It was held in France from 10 June to 12 July 1998. The country was chosen as the host nation by FIFA for the second time in the history of the tournament, defeating Morocco in the bidding process.

Qualification for the finals began in March 1996 and concluded in November 1997. For the first time in the competition, the group stage were expanded from 24 teams to 32, with eight groups of four. A total of 64 matches were played in 10 stadiums located across 10 different host cities, with the opening match and final staged at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis.

The tournament was won by France, who beat Brazil 3–0 in the final. France won their first title, becoming the seventh nation to win a World Cup, and the sixth (after Uruguay, Italy, England, West Germany and Argentina) to win the tournament on home soil.

France was awarded the 1998 World Cup on 2 July 1992 by the executive committee of FIFA during a general meeting in Zurich, Switzerland. They defeated Morocco by 12 votes to 7. Switzerland withdrew, due to being unable to meet FIFA's requirements.

The qualification draw for the 1998 World Cup finals took place in the Musée du Louvre, Paris on 12 December 1995. As tournament hosts, France was exempt from the draw as was Brazil the defending champions. 174 teams from six confederations participated, up 24 from the previous round. In Europe, thirteen countries qualified excluding France, with nine by virtue of being group winners and the other eight group runners-up being drawn into pairs of four play-off matches – the winners of which qualifying for the finals. Five places were granted by CONMEBOL and CAF each, the governing bodies of South America and Africa respectively while three spots were contested between 30 teams through CONCACAF – the governing body in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The winner of the Oceanian zone advanced through to an intercontinental play-off against the runner-up of the Asian play-off, determined by the two best second placed teams.

Four nations qualified for the World Cup for the first time: Croatia, Jamaica, Japan and South Africa. The last team to qualify was Iran by virtue of beating Australia in a two-legged tie on 29 November 1997. It marked their first appearance in the finals since 1978, the last time Tunisia also qualified for the tournament. Paraguay and Denmark qualified for the first time since 1986. Among the teams who failed to qualify were two-time winners

Uruguay for the second successive tournament and Sweden who finished third in 1994.Russia failed to qualify for the first time since 1978, where they contested as the USSR, after losing to Italy in the play-off round. As of 2014, this is the last time Scotland, Morocco, Norway, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Jamaica have qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals.

France's bid to host the World Cup centered on a national stadium with 80,000 seats and nine other stadiums located across the country. When the finals were originally awarded in July 1992, none of the regional club grounds were of a capacity meeting FIFA's requirements – namely being able to safely seat 40,000. The proposed national stadium, colloquially referred to as the 'Grand stade' met with controversy at every stage of planning; the stadium's location was determined by politics, finance and national symbolism. As Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac successfully negotiated a deal with Prime Minister Édouard Balladur to bring the Stade de France – as it was named now, to the capital city. Construction on the stadium started in December 1995 and was completed after 26 months of work in November 1997 at a cost of ₣2.67 billion francs.

The choice of stadium locations was drafted from an original list of 14 cities. FIFA and CFO monitored the progress and quality of preparations, culminating in the former providing final checks of the grounds weeks before the tournament commenced. Montpellier was the surprise inclusion from the final list of cities because of its low urban hierarchy in comparison to Strasbourg, who boasted a better hierarchy and success from its local football team, having been taken over by a consortium. Montpellier however was considered ambitious by the selecting panel to host World Cup matches. The local city and regional authories in particular invested heavily into football the past two decades and were able to measure economic effects, in terms of jobs as early as in 1997.

Ten stadiums in total were used for the finals; in addition to nine matches being played at the Stade de France, a further eight took place in the Parc des Princes.

As with the preceding tournament, each team's squad for the 1998 World Cup finals consisted of 22 players. Each participating national association had to confirm their final 22-player squad by 1 June 1998.

Out of the 704 players participating in the 1998 World Cup, 447 were signed up with a European club; 90 in Asia, 67 in South America, 61 in Northern and Central America and 37 in Africa. 75 played their club football in England – five more than Italy and Spain. FC Barcelona of Spain was the club contributing to the most players in the tournament with 13 players on their side.

The average age of all teams was 27 years, 8 months – five months older than the previous tournament. Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon was the youngest player selected in the competition at 17 years, 3 months while the oldest was Jim Leighton of Scotland at 39 years, 11 months.

The knockout stage comprised the sixteen teams that advanced from the group stage of the tournament. There were four rounds of matches, with each round eliminating half of the teams entering that round. The successive rounds were the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final. There was also a play-off to decide third and fourth place. For each game in the knockout stage, any draw at 90 minutes was followed by thirty minutes of extra time; if scores were still level, there was a penalty shootout to determine who progressed to the next round. Golden goal comes into play if a team scores during extra time, thus becoming the winner which concludes the game.

Croatia beat the Netherlands to earn third place in the competition. Davor Šuker scored the winner in the 35th minute to secure the golden boot.

The final was held on 12 July 1998 at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis. France defeated holders Brazil 3–0, with two goals from Zinedine Zidane and a stoppage time strike from Emmanuel Petit. The win gave France their first World Cup title, becoming the sixth national team after Uruguay, Italy, England, West Germany and Argentina to win the tournament on their home soil. They also inflicted the heaviest defeat on Brazil since 1930.
The pre-match build up was dominated by the omission of Brazilian striker Ronaldo from the starting lineup only to be reinstated 45 minutes before kick-off. He managed to create the first open chance for Brazil in the 22nd minute, dribbling past defender Thuram before sending a cross out on the left side that goalkeeper Fabian Barthez struggled to hold onto. France however took the lead after Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos conceded a corner which Zidane scored via a header. Three minutes before half-time, Zidane scored his second goal of the match, similarly another header from a corner. The tournament hosts went down to ten men in the 68th minute as Marcel Desailly was sent off for a second bookable offence. Brazil reacted to this by making an attacking substitution and although they applied pressure France sealed the win with a third goal: substitute Patrick Vieira set up his club teammate Petit in a counterattack to shoot low past goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel.

French president Jacques Chirac was in attendance to congratulate and commiserate the winners and runners-up respectively after the match. Several days after the victory, winning manager Aimé Jacquet announced his resignation from the French team with immediate effect.

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