France has won its second FIFA World Cup title after beating Croatia in a thrilling final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Didier Deschamps’ side repeated the success on home soil at France ’98 by a margin that hardly looked possible as Croatia stood toe-to-toe with the favorites for an hour.
France’s victory meant Didier Deschamps, who captained them 20 years ago, became just the third man to win the competition as a player and coach.
In one of the most exciting World Cup finals of the modern era, played out to a soundtrack of thunder, Croatia and France delivered an enthralling spectacle that brought the joint highest goal tally in a final since 1958, a pitch invasion, and a controversial intervention from the video assistant referee that had a huge influence on the outcome.
The French team took the lead after 18 minutes when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick deflected in off Mario Mandzukic’s head – but Croatia were by far the better side in the first half and deservedly equalized courtesy of Ivan Perisic’s left-foot finish.
Croatians were left nursing a burning sense of injustice when France restored their lead seven minutes before half-time through Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, awarded by referee Nestor Pitana for handball against Ivan Perisic after a lengthy delay while VAR was consulted.
In a compelling second half, France looked to have wrapped it up with two strikes in six minutes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe either side of the hour mark.
Croatia showed unbreakable spirit and even threatened a comeback when Mario Mandzukic took advantage of France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris hesitating over a clearance to pull a goal back.
However, France closed out the win to bring redemption for Didier Deschamps after defeat at the Euros two years ago, sparking wild celebrations and ensuring Hugo Lloris lifted the World Cup.
France celebrated joyously at the final whistle after claiming the sport’s greatest trophy once more, with Didier Deschamps – the coach whose conservative methods have often brought criticism – tossed high into the air by his players.
Croatia return home as beaten World Cup finalists but their approach to this match will have won the hearts of neutrals and earned them a prolonged standing ovation from their fans at the final whistle.
FIFA has unveiled “Brazuca” – its official match ball for the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
The official match ball made by Adidas was named “Brazuca” in 2012 following a public vote in Brazil which involved more than one million fans.
Brazuca’s design is said to be “inspired by vibrant colors, passion and heritage of Brazil”. Its name is a term used by natives of the country, meaning “Brazilian” or to describe the Brazilian way of life.
Brazuca’s design is said to be inspired by vibrant colors, passion and heritage of Brazil
The ball was unveiled during a spectacular 3D event held at the iconic Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, but went through a rigorous two-and-a-half-year testing process which involved more than 600 of the world’s top players.
Players such as Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, Bastian Schweinsteiger and former France international Zinedine Zidane were all involved in the process and have since signed off on its use for next year’s World Cup.
Adidas say the technology used will “meet and exceed all FIFA metrics” and will “ensure top performance for every condition”.
“A new structural innovation with a unique symmetry of six identical panels alongside a different surface structure will provide improved grip, touch, stability and aerodynamics on the pitch. Brazuca has been thoroughly tested to meet and exceed all FIFA metrics for an official match ball, ensuring top performance for every condition,” an Adidas statement read.
Football’s world governing body, FIFA, has insisted beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the right to sell beer must be enshrined in a World Cup law the Brazilian Congress is considering.
Alcoholic drinks are currently banned at Brazilian stadiums and the country’s health minister has urged Congress to maintain the ban in the new law.
Brewer Budweiser is a big FIFA sponsor.
Jerome Valcke is visiting Brazil to press for progress on the much-delayed World Cup law.
FIFA has become frustrated, because voting on the legislation has been held up in Congress by the dispute over alcohol sales.
FIFA has insisted beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
The Brazilian government has also failed to resolve differences with FIFA over cut-price tickets for students and senior citizens, and demands for sponsors of the World Cup to have their trademarks protected.
In remarks to journalists in Rio de Janeiro, Jerome Valcke sounded frustrated with Brazilian officials.
“Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate,” he said.
“The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.”
Alcohol was banned at Brazilian football matches in 2003 as part of attempts to tackle violence between rival football fans.
But the measures have had limited impact.
In order to drink, supporters tend to stay longer outside stadiums, areas that are harder to police than inside.
Much of the football violence in Brazil stems from club rivalries. Fans who follow the national side tend to be wealthier and include more women and families.
Health Minister Alexandre Padilha and other members of Congress have called for the ban to be maintained.
Jerome Valcke said negotiations with Brazil over details of the World Cup had been slow.
“We lost a lot of time and we were not able to discuss with people in charge that are willing to make a decision,” he said, adding that it was the first time a country was still in talks five years after winning the right to host the tournament.
During his visit to Brazil, Jerome Valcke has been touring the stadiums in 12 cities where the 2014 World Cup will be played.
Jerome Valcke criticized the pace of construction and said Brazil had not yet improved its infrastructure to the level needed to welcome visitors.