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.
World football’s governing body, Federation Internationale de Fooball Association (FIFA), agreed to publish a “legally appropriate version” of a report into allegations of World Cup bidding corruption.
However, FIFA insisted Russia and Qatar will stay as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments respectively.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he asked the executive committee to vote in favor of publishing the report.
“We have always been determined the truth should be known,” he said.
“That is, after all, why we set up an independent ethics committee with an investigatory chamber that has all necessary means to undertake investigations on its own initiative.”
Only a disputed summary of Michael Garcia’s 430-page report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has so far been published.
Releasing the full report, which is likely be heavily redacted to preserve witness confidentiality, is a change in FIFA policy.
However, it will only be published once ongoing investigations into five individuals are completed.
“We need to ensure that we respect the rules of our organization and that we do not breach confidentiality in a way that will prevent people from speaking out in the future,” added Sepp Blatter.
The 78-year-old Swiss, seeking a fifth term as president, insisted later that there was no reason for Russia and Qatar to lose their rights to stage future World Cups.
“At the current time, there is no reason to go back on our decisions,” he told a news conference, speaking in German.
“The two World Cups are in the calendar, the only thing missing is the precise dates for 2022, but these two World Cups will take place.”
Addressing Qatar specifically, Sepp Blatter added that only an “earthquake” could change FIFA’s decision to hold the 2022 tournament in the Gulf state.
“It would really need an earthquake, extremely important new elements to go back on this World Cup in Qatar,” he said.
The Ameican lawyer, Michael Garcia, was appointed FIFA’s independent ethics investigator in 2012 and spent two years investigating all nine bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups following claims of corruption and collusion.
Michael Garcia travelled the world speaking to bid officials and appealing for evidence of wrongdoing.
He eventually submitted a report to FIFA in September 2014.
FIFA subsequently released a 42-page summary that cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption.
However, Michael Garcia was unhappy with it, claiming it was “incomplete and erroneous”.
Earlier this week, Michael Garcia resigned, citing “lack of leadership” at FIFA.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.