It is expected to be the most expensive football championship in history, budgeted at US$11.8-14 billion surpassing the cost of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. Of the thirty-two nations qualified to play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, twenty countries competed at the previous edition of the tournament in 2014. Iceland and Panama qualified for the first time. Notable countries that failed to qualify include four-time champions Italy (for the first time since 1958) and three-time runner-up the Netherlands (for the first time since 2002). Russia proposed the following host cities: Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, Yaroslavl and Yekaterinburg.
The wolf mascot
Construction of the proposed Podolsk stadium in the Moscow region was cancelled by the regional government, and also in the capital, Otkrytiye Arena was competing with Dynamo Stadium over which would be constructed first. As part of the program for preparation to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a federal sub-program “Construction and Renovation of Transport Infrastructure” was implemented. The mascot of the tournament is the wolf Zabivaka. The official song of the tournament is “Live It Up.”