- FIFA decided to increase the number of teams in the tournament from 24 to 32, leading to a larger qualifying group of 174 countries.
Format: Group stage, knockouts
Golden Boot: Davor Suker (Croatia)
FIFA decided to increase the number of teams in the tournament from 24 to 32, leading to a larger qualifying group of 174 countries.
There were four debuts, from four different continents, underscoring the broader scope of the game.
Croatia, Jamaica, Japan, and South Africa played their first World Cup. Portugal, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Uruguay did not qualify.
After the departure of some of the heroes of their 1994 victory, Brazil unearthed another talented striker: Ronaldo.
The 21-year-old scored four goals and made five assists on route to Brazil’s way to the final. He was the poster boy for young football fans around the world and looked set to win his first world title.
However, Ronaldo’s name did not appear on the team’s sheet on the day of the final, causing a stir around the world. It was later added, but the player was unable to replicate his performances from the previous games and was later found to be unwell before the game.
Among the tournament’s surprises were Norway’s 2-1 win over Brazil and Nigeria’s 3-2 win over Spain. Croatia, led by sensational Davor Suker, made their way to the semifinals with victories over Romania (1-0) and three-time winner Germany (3-0).
However, they fell short in the semi-finals against hosts France.
France built on the success of several star players, including Zinedine Zidane, who scored the team’s first two goals in the final. The third was added by Emmanuel Petit and the home country erupted with joy in their first World Cup victory.
After being blacklisted for years by apartheid, South Africa played its first World Cup.
The golden goal rule was introduced to encourage attacking play during extra time.
Despite political tensions between Iran and the United States, both teams showed mutual respect and took a memorable group photo with their arms over each other.
Michael Owen scored a wonderful goal, one of the most memorable goals of the World Cup, when he scored England’s second in their knockout match.
The tournament’s official song, Ricky Martin’s Cup of Life, won worldwide acclaim and has been ranked as the best anthem of the World Cup by multiple publications and critics.
A few months before the tournament, EA Sports released World Cup 98, its first international soccer game after winning the rights from FIFA. The game became a hit with video game fans.
After making his way through the tournament, Brazil’s Ronaldo was a shadow of himself during the final, leading to conspiracy theories and investigations.
Source: AL JAZEERA
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