For the first time in the history of the World Cup final competition, the "Golden Goal" rule will apply when the knock-out phase begins.
From the Round of 16 on, matches which are drawn after 90 minutes will go into extra time (2 x 15 minutes). The first team to score a goal in extra time will immediately be declared the winner. If there is no goal scored in 30 minutes of extra time, the match will be settled in the customary manner by a penalty shoot-out.
The "Golden Goal" rule has been used by FIFA since the 1993 World Youth Championship in Australia and has become a regular feature of FIFA's youth competitions, the Olympic Football Tournaments and the FIFA/Confederations Cup.
The first World Cup "Golden Goal" was scored on 16 November 1997 by a player who had only been on the pitch since the start of extra time. This was Japan's Masayuki Okada who scored in the 118th minute to clinch a 3-2 victory for his country against Iran in the AFC play-off match.
The two most famous "Golden Goals" were both scored some two years ago. Only a few minutes into extra time, Germany's Oliver Bierhoff put an abrupt end to the dreams of the Czech Republic in the 1996 EURO final match. Later that year, Nwankwo Kanu sealed Brazil's fate in the Olympic semi-final, sending Nigeria to the gold medal match.
In the first-round group matches of the 1998 World Cup, three points are awarded for a win and one for a draw. Groups will be determined according to the following criteria:
(a) number of points,
(b) goal difference,
(c) number of goals scored,
(d) score of direct encounter,
(e) drawing lots.