2018 FIFA World Cup™
32 days to go: France 1998 opens its arms wide
13 May 2018
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is drawing ever nearer – with just 32 days to go! Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.
32 teams lined up on the starting blocks for the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, a first for the prestigious tournament, which had featured 24 competing teams since Spain 1982, and just 16 sides between 1934 and 1978. At the inaugural event, held in 1930 in Uruguay, only 13 nations took part.
The number of participants has continued to rise throughout World Cup history, and this has gone hand-in-hand with the tremendous growth of football over the past century and the spread of the sport to the four corners of the globe. The 2026 tournament will take things up another level by welcoming no fewer than 48 countries.
The move to 32 teams in 1998 obviously led to changes in the qualifying format, with all confederations receiving extra berths. Consequently, Europe’s quota was increased to 15 spots (+2), South America’s to five (+1), CONCACAF’s to three (+1), Africa’s to five (+2), and Asia’s to 3.5 (+1.5; the 0.5 represented the slot available to the winner of the Asia-Oceania intercontinental play-off).