(top) KYIV, UKRAINE – OCT. 9, 2017: Croatia scores a goal during a FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying game between Ukraine and Croatia. Croatia won 2-0. (row two left) The very first official international association football match was played between Scotland and England in 1872. The final score? Read on. 🙂 (row two right) A cool photo I found. (row three) The yellow card and the red card. What do they mean? They are explained below. (row four) Ticket prices. (1 US Dollar = 62.08 Russian Rubles) So for the finals, a prime seat would be $1,063 and a cheap seat around $113.40. (row five) Ukraine (yellow) and France fighting for the ball during a FIFA 2014 qualifying match. The action is really awesome. (row six left) For noshing while watching, try Betty Crocker’s Borscht Recipe – six right) Or some tasty Chicken Pelmeni. More Russian food ideas below. (row seven) To wash down your Borscht try a refreshing glass of Kvass – a drink made from bread. Or a very healthy for you caramel milk product called Ryazhenka. Or try another healthy Russian milk product called Kefir. Or maybe not. 🙂 

Are you ready for some football? (no, not the pointy ended ones I’m most familiar with), but international football (soccer). Now in full and complete transparency.  I am not a “football” fan.  Growing up I just could not wrap my brain around a game where you had to do so, so, so much running just to have the opponent kick the ball over my head and have me start all over again! BUT!  next week begins an amazing sporting event – the World Cup, hosted this year by the Russian Federation. Estimates include a worldwide viewership of nearly 3.5 billion people, with over 1 billion watching matches online (that’s about half the world’s population folks). Since there are  just few folks actually interested in this sport!! I thought it would be fun for you to pick up some info and trivia, so when you find yourself in front of a TV, watching your favorite team or superstar like Ronaldo or Messi, you can join in the chatter.  Enjoy, and thanks to multiple sites for the trivia and info.

  1. The FIFA World Cup was first held in 1930, when FIFA president Jules Rimet decided to stage an international football tournament. The inaugural edition, held in 1930, was contested as a final tournament of only thirteen teams invited by the organization. Since then, the World Cup has experienced successive expansions and format remodeling to its current 32-team final tournament preceded by a two-year qualifying process, involving over 200 teams from around the world.
  2. The first official international football match was played in 1872 in Glasgow between Scotland and England, although at this stage the sport was rarely played outside Great Britain. By 1900, however, football had gained ground all around the world and national football associations were being founded. FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904 – comprising football associations from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, and Germany.
  3. The 2018 World Cup will be played in twelve different locations throughout Russia. Building new stadiums, infrastructure, hotels, training grounds and more, the country is estimated to invest $12-13 billions dollars.  Click HERE to see the awesome stadiums.
  4. Ticket prices are reasonable.  Three categories of tickets will be available, with Category 1 the most expensive.  The cheapest seats, Category 3, will cost from $105 for group stage matches, to $175 for the quarter-finals and $455 for the final. Category 1 seats will cost between $550 in the group stage and $1,100 for the final. There is also be a Category 4 price band, available only to Russian residents at discounted prices varying between 1,280 roubles ($22.19) for group stage games to 7,040 roubles for the final.
  5. Obviously, there is some variation depending on the position they play—midfielders run the most; the goalie not so much—but it’s not uncommon for a player to average seven miles per game, with hard working players running as much as 9.5 miles in a game.
  6. The first World Cup hat-trick was achieved by Bert Patenaude of the U.S. in the Americans’ 1930 3–0 win against Paraguay.
  7. In Brazil, calling someone by their first name or nickname is a demonstration of intimacy (as naming conventions often include 4-5 names). Names like Pele’, Neymar, Hulk and others are world famous.  Another soccer player, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, is believed to have gotten his nickname “Kaka” because it was as close as his brother could get to saying “Ricardo.”
  8. Matches are 90 minutes in length, with a halftime.  The center referee, who has the final control of a match, has the option to add extra time or “injury time” based on his/her discretion. The fourth official will hold up an illuminated sign board, showing the additional time added.
  9. A yellow card is given to a player who consistently infringes on the game or who, in the opinion of the referee has played with unnecessary carelessness to opposing players.  It can be given for dissent, failing to respect required distance, or leaving the field.
  10. On average, a soccer ball, when struck, reaches a speed of 65-80 mph.The fastest shot on goal during an English Premier League game was recorded at 114 mph, when a football kicked by David Hirst (UK), playing for Sheffield Wednesday, hit the crossbar from 13. 5 m (14.8 yards; 44 ft), during their match against Arsenal at Highbury, London, UK in September 1996.
  11. A red card is given to a player who, in the opinion of the referee, is guilty of abusive language, serious foul play or violent conduct, including reckless tackles, striking or spitting on an opponent, denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity or receiving a second yellow card.
  12. Two different hand-sewn leather balls were used in the first final (Argentina supplied the first-half ball (the ‘Tiento’) and Uruguay supplied the second-half ball (the ‘T-Model’ which was larger and heavier).  This year, the ball will be the Telstar, made by Adidas.  The original Telstar used in the 1970 FIFA World Cup was the first football to show a black and white pattern, done to ensure that television audiences would know where the ball was while games were in operation, due to many televisions at the time sporting a black and white screen. Although the original Telstar had 32 panels, the Telstar ‘18 has six textured panels. They are not stitched, but seamlessly glued together.
  13. The 2018 game balls have an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip. However, it is of no value to players, providing no information about their kicks or headers of the ball.  Consumers who purchase a Telstar 18 are able to connect to the chip using a smart phone to access content and information that is unique to that ball, personalized and localized, providing the consumer with interactivity themed on the upcoming World Cup competition.
  14. While every match will have its hero’s, stars to watch this year include: Timor Werner and Toni Kroos (Germany), Kylian Mbappé (France), Gabriel Jesus and Neymar (Brazil), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Isco (Spain), Lionel Messi and Paul Dybala (Argentina).

Top 10 Russian Dishes To Serve While Hosting a Party:

  1. Pelmeni – small pieces of minced meat wrapped in dough and boiled in salted water.
  2. Pirojki – salty pirojki (little pies) with cabbage, with rice and egg, with minced meat, and sweet pirojki with apple and berries
  3. Blini – thin pancakes with stuffing. The most delicious are prepared with salmon, caviar or minced meat.
  4. Borscht – a main soup of East Slavic cuisine, it has a bright burgundy color that’s obtained through the addition of beetroot. Even if you hate beetroot, try borscht with pampushkas (little buns) rubbed with garlic and with small pieces of salo.
  5. Shchi – In addition to beetroot Russians love cabbage. It can be brewed for the winter with carrots and cranberries. You can order it as salad in a restaurant. But soup with cabbage is called shchi; it’s very nutritious and healthy.
  6. Ukha – a fish soup for real men, cooked over the fire, and a shot of vodka is added just before serving.
  7. Olivier – a Russian classic made with ‘doctor’s sausage,’ peas, pickles, potatoes and carrots – the original Tsarist-era recipe that used crab and caviar.
  8. Kholodets – is a jelly with pieces of meat, and it is very tasty when eaten with hot potatoes and dill.
  9. Kvass – is a drink made from bread, and it quenches thirst very well.
  10. Kefir and ryazhenka are fermented milk products that are very healthy for your stomach. Kefir has a little sour taste, and ryazhenka a caramel one. Drink them in the evening before going to bed, and the next day you’ll feel great and ready to continue watching the World Cup.

Click below to find your favorite World Cup finals trivia.

Year Host Winning Team Captain Head coach
1930  Uruguay  Uruguay José Nasazzi Alberto Suppici
1934  Italy  Italy Giampiero Combi Vittorio Pozzo
1938  France  Italy Giuseppe Meazza Vittorio Pozzo
1950  Brazil  Uruguay Obdulio Varela Juan López Fontana
1954   Switzerland  West Germany Fritz Walter Sepp Herberger
1958  Sweden  Brazil Hilderaldo Bellini Vicente Feola
1962  Chile  Brazil Mauro Ramos Aymoré Moreira
1966  England  England Bobby Moore Alf Ramsey
1970  Mexico  Brazil Carlos Alberto Torres Mário Zagallo
1974  West Germany  West Germany Franz Beckenbauer Helmut Schön
1978  Argentina  Argentina Daniel Passarella César Luis Menotti
1982  Spain  Italy Dino Zoff Enzo Bearzot
1986  Mexico  Argentina Diego Maradona Carlos Bilardo
1990  Italy  West Germany Lothar Matthäus Franz Beckenbauer
1994  United States  Brazil Dunga Carlos Alberto Parreira
1998  France  France Didier Deschamps Aimé Jacquet
2002  South Korea
 Brazil Cafu Luiz Felipe Scolari
2006  Germany  Italy Fabio Cannavaro Marcello Lippi
2010  South Africa  Spain Iker Casillas Vicente del Bosque
2014  Brazil  Germany Philipp Lahm Joachim Löw



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