The 1998 FIFA World Cup Men’s A Historic Soccer Tournament

The 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France from June 10 to July 12, marked the 16th edition of this prestigious international football competition. It was a tournament filled with memorable moments, thrilling matches, and historic achievements. This article delves into the key aspects of the 1998 World Cup, including its organization, standout players, significant matches, controversies, and the legacy it left behind.

1998 FIFA World Cup Final

The Road to France

The decision to award the hosting rights to France was made in 1992, beating out bids from Morocco and Switzerland. This marked the second time France hosted the World Cup, the first being in 1938. The tournament featured an expanded format, increasing the number of teams from 24 to 32, allowing more nations to participate and making the competition more inclusive and globally representative.

Organizational Excellence

France’s preparation for the World Cup was exemplary, with significant investments in infrastructure, stadium renovations, and transportation networks. The tournament was played across ten cities, including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Bordeaux. The Stade de France, a newly constructed stadium in Saint-Denis, became the centerpiece of the event, hosting the opening match and the final.

Group Stage Drama

The group stage of the 1998 World Cup featured eight groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group advanced to the knockout stage. The tournament kicked off with a grand opening ceremony at the Stade de France, followed by the first match between the host nation, France, and South Africa. France won the match 3-0, setting the tone for their successful campaign.

Group A

Group A saw defending champions Brazil paired with Norway, Morocco, and Scotland. Brazil, led by the talismanic Ronaldo, comfortably topped the group with two wins and a loss. Norway secured a historic win against Brazil in their final group match, ensuring their progression to the knockout stage alongside the South Americans.

Group B

Italy emerged as the dominant force in Group B, which also included Chile, Austria, and Cameroon. The Italians, under coach Cesare Maldini, showcased their defensive prowess and attacking flair, finishing top of the group. Chile, led by the dynamic duo of Marcelo Salas and Iván Zamorano, secured second place with a series of impressive performances.

Group C

France dominated Group C, winning all their matches against Denmark, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. The French team, managed by Aimé Jacquet, displayed a blend of solid defense and creative attacking play, making them one of the tournament favorites. Denmark joined them in the knockout stage after securing second place.

Group D

Group D featured one of the tournament’s biggest surprises. Nigeria topped the group, ahead of established footballing nations like Spain, Paraguay, and Bulgaria. The Super Eagles, with their exciting brand of football, won the hearts of many neutral fans. Spain’s shock exit in the group stage was one of the major upsets of the tournament.

Group E

The Netherlands emerged victorious in Group E, which also included Mexico, Belgium, and South Korea. The Dutch, led by coach Guus Hiddink, played an attractive style of football, scoring goals with ease. Mexico secured second place, thanks to their resilient performances.

Group F

Germany, the 1990 champions, topped Group F, which featured Yugoslavia, Iran, and the United States. The German team, managed by Berti Vogts, showed their traditional efficiency and discipline. Yugoslavia joined them in the knockout stage, showcasing their technical prowess.

Group G

Romania emerged as the surprise package in Group G, finishing ahead of England, Colombia, and Tunisia. The Romanian team, known for their attacking style, topped the group with some scintillating performances. England secured second place, with David Beckham’s red card against Argentina in the Round of 16 becoming a major talking point.

Group H

Argentina, led by coach Daniel Passarella, dominated Group H, which also included Croatia, Jamaica, and Japan. The Argentine team, featuring talents like Gabriel Batistuta and Ariel Ortega, played with flair and precision. Croatia, in their first World Cup appearance, finished second and advanced to the knockout stage.

Knockout Stage Thrills

The knockout stage of the 1998 World Cup provided some of the most thrilling and memorable matches in the tournament’s history. The round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final all featured moments of high drama, skill, and controversy.

1998 FIFA World Cup Final

Round of 16

The Round of 16 saw some intense clashes, including Argentina vs. England, which ended in a dramatic penalty shootout victory for Argentina. The match is best remembered for David Beckham’s red card for a petulant kick on Diego Simeone, which left England with ten men for most of the match. Other notable matches included France’s narrow 1-0 win over Paraguay, thanks to a golden goal by Laurent Blanc, and Brazil’s 4-1 demolition of Chile.


The quarterfinals featured some classic encounters. France faced Italy in a tense match that ended in a goalless draw, with France prevailing 4-3 in a penalty shootout. Brazil overcame Denmark in a thrilling 3-2 victory, with Rivaldo scoring twice. The Netherlands defeated Argentina 2-1, thanks to a stunning last-minute goal by Dennis Bergkamp. Croatia continued their fairy tale run with a 3-0 victory over Germany, with Davor Šuker scoring twice.


The semifinals saw two contrasting matches. Brazil faced the Netherlands in a match that ended 1-1 after extra time, with Brazil winning 4-2 in the penalty shootout. In the other semifinal, France comfortably defeated Croatia 2-1, with defender Lilian Thuram scoring both goals for the host nation. Thuram’s goals were his first and only international goals, making the performance even more remarkable.

The Final

The 1998 FIFA World Cup final, held on July 12 at the Stade de France, saw France face Brazil. The match was eagerly anticipated, with Brazil being the favorites and France carrying the hopes of the host nation. However, the match took an unexpected turn when it was revealed that Ronaldo, Brazil’s star player, had suffered a convulsive fit hours before the game. Despite initial reports that he would not play, Ronaldo started the match, but he was clearly not at his best.

France dominated the final from the outset, with Zinedine Zidane scoring two headers from corners to give the host nation a 2-0 lead by halftime. Emmanuel Petit added a third goal in stoppage time to seal a 3-0 victory for France, giving them their first World Cup title. The French team, led by captain Didier Deschamps, celebrated a historic triumph, and Zidane’s performance in the final cemented his status as one of the world’s greatest players.

Standout Players

The 1998 FIFA World Cup saw several players emerge as stars, with some delivering standout performances that left a lasting impact on the tournament.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane was undoubtedly the star of the tournament, particularly in the final where his two goals helped secure France’s victory. His vision, skill, and composure on the ball made him one of the most influential players of the World Cup. Zidane’s performances throughout the tournament earned him the Golden Ball award as the best player of the World Cup.


Despite his struggles in the final, Ronaldo had an outstanding tournament, scoring four goals and providing numerous assists. His pace, dribbling ability, and finishing made him a constant threat to opposition defenses. Ronaldo’s performances in the earlier stages of the tournament were a key factor in Brazil’s progression to the final.

Davor Šuker

Croatia’s Davor Šuker won the Golden Boot award as the tournament’s top scorer, with six goals. His clinical finishing and intelligent movement were instrumental in Croatia’s impressive run to the semifinals. Šuker’s goals included crucial strikes against Germany and the Netherlands.

Lilian Thuram

Thuram’s performance in the semifinal against Croatia was one of the standout moments of the tournament. His two goals secured France’s place in the final and highlighted his versatility as a defender capable of contributing in attack. Thuram’s solid defensive displays throughout the tournament were also crucial to France’s success.

Michael Owen

England’s Michael Owen announced himself on the world stage with a sensational goal against Argentina in the Round of 16. The 18-year-old forward’s solo effort, where he dribbled past multiple defenders before scoring, was one of the goals of the tournament. Owen’s performances earned him widespread acclaim and marked the beginning of a stellar international career.


The 1998 World Cup was not without its controversies, with several incidents generating significant debate and media attention.

Ronaldo’s Health Scare

The most talked-about controversy was Ronaldo’s health scare before the final. Reports of his convulsive fit and the subsequent decision to play him in the final raised questions about Brazil’s medical and managerial decisions. The incident sparked widespread speculation and remains one of the most debated topics in World Cup history.

David Beckham’s Red Card

David Beckham’s red card against Argentina in the Round of 16 was a major talking point. Beckham was sent off for a retaliatory kick on Diego Simeone, leaving England with ten men for most of the match. England eventually lost on penalties, and Beckham faced intense criticism and vilification from the British media and fans.

Laurent Blanc’s Suspension

France’s Laurent Blanc was suspended for the final after being sent off in the semifinal against Croatia. Blanc received a red card for a supposed elbow on Croatian player Slaven Bilić, who appeared to exaggerate the contact. The suspension was a significant blow for France, but they managed to cope in the final without their key defender.

Legacy of the 1998 World Cup

The 1998 World Cup left a lasting legacy, both for the host nation and the world of football.

France’s Triumph

France’s victory on home soil was a moment of national pride and unity. The success of the multicultural French team, with players of diverse ethnic backgrounds, was seen as a triumph of integration and inclusivity. The victory also established France as a major force in international football, leading to further successes in subsequent years.

Rise of New Footballing Nations

The 1998 World Cup saw the emergence of new footballing nations like Croatia and Nigeria, who made significant impacts on the tournament. Croatia’s third-place finish in their debut World Cup was a remarkable achievement, while Nigeria’s exciting style of play won them many admirers. These teams added new dimensions to the global football landscape.

Expanded Format

The expansion of the World Cup to 32 teams proved to be a success, providing more opportunities for nations to compete on the world stage. The increased representation from different continents made the tournament more inclusive and competitive, setting a precedent for future World Cups.

Memorable Moments

The 1998 World Cup was filled with memorable moments that have become part of footballing folklore. From Dennis Bergkamp’s stunning goal against Argentina to Michael Owen’s solo effort, the tournament produced moments of individual brilliance and team excellence that continue to be celebrated by fans and pundits alike.

Sure! Here’s a table detailing the schedule of matches, scores, and venues for the 1998 FIFA World Cup:

Group Stage
10 June 1998Brazil vs. Scotland2-1Stade de France, Saint-Denis
11 June 1998Italy vs. Chile2-2Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
11 June 1998Morocco vs. Norway2-2Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
12 June 1998Germany vs. USA2-0Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens
12 June 1998Yugoslavia vs. Iran1-0Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
12 June 1998Argentina vs. Japan1-0Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse
13 June 1998Netherlands vs. Belgium0-0Stade de France, Saint-Denis
13 June 1998South Korea vs. Mexico1-3Stade de Gerland, Lyon
13 June 1998Jamaica vs. Croatia1-3Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens
14 June 1998France vs. South Africa3-0Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
14 June 1998Spain vs. Nigeria2-3Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
14 June 1998Paraguay vs. Bulgaria0-0Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
15 June 1998Romania vs. Colombia1-0Stade de Gerland, Lyon
15 June 1998England vs. Tunisia2-0Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
16 June 1998Austria vs. Cameroon1-1Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse
16 June 1998Italy vs. Cameroon3-0Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
16 June 1998Brazil vs. Morocco3-0Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
17 June 1998Norway vs. Scotland1-1Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
17 June 1998Germany vs. Yugoslavia2-2Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens
17 June 1998USA vs. Iran1-2Stade de Gerland, Lyon
18 June 1998Argentina vs. Croatia1-0Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
18 June 1998Japan vs. Jamaica1-2Stade de Gerland, Lyon
19 June 1998Netherlands vs. South Korea5-0Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
19 June 1998Belgium vs. Mexico2-2Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
19 June 1998France vs. Saudi Arabia4-0Stade de France, Saint-Denis
20 June 1998Denmark vs. South Africa1-1Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse
20 June 1998Spain vs. Paraguay0-0Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
20 June 1998Nigeria vs. Bulgaria1-0Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens
21 June 1998Romania vs. England2-1Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse
21 June 1998Colombia vs. Tunisia1-0Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
22 June 1998Germany vs. Iran2-0Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
22 June 1998USA vs. Yugoslavia0-1Stade de Gerland, Lyon
23 June 1998Argentina vs. Jamaica5-0Parc des Princes, Paris
23 June 1998Croatia vs. Japan1-0Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
24 June 1998South Korea vs. Belgium1-1Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
24 June 1998Netherlands vs. Mexico2-2Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
24 June 1998France vs. Denmark2-1Stade Gerland, Lyon
24 June 1998South Africa vs. Saudi Arabia2-2Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
25 June 1998Romania vs. Tunisia1-1Stade de France, Saint-Denis
25 June 1998Colombia vs. England0-2Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens
26 June 1998Nigeria vs. Paraguay1-3Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse
26 June 1998Spain vs. Bulgaria6-1Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
26 June 1998Brazil vs. Norway1-2Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
26 June 1998Morocco vs. Scotland3-0Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
27 June 1998Germany vs. Mexico2-1Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
27 June 1998Netherlands vs. Yugoslavia2-1Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
28 June 1998Italy vs. Norway1-0Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
28 June 1998Brazil vs. Chile4-1Parc des Princes, Paris
29 June 1998France vs. Paraguay1-0 (Golden Goal)Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens
29 June 1998Nigeria vs. Denmark1-4Stade de France, Saint-Denis
30 June 1998Romania vs. Croatia0-1Stade de Gerland, Lyon
30 June 1998Argentina vs. England2-2 (4-3 pens)Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
3 July 1998Brazil vs. Denmark3-2Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
3 July 1998Netherlands vs. Argentina2-1Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
4 July 1998France vs. Italy0-0 (4-3 pens)Stade de France, Saint-Denis
4 July 1998Germany vs. Croatia0-3Parc des Princes, Paris
7 July 1998Brazil vs. Netherlands1-1 (4-2 pens)Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
8 July 1998France vs. Croatia2-1Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Third Place Playoff
11 July 1998Netherlands vs. Croatia1-2Parc des Princes, Paris
12 July 1998Brazil vs. France0-3Stade de France, Saint-Denis
1998 FIFA World Cup

This table captures the schedule, scores, and venues for the matches played during the 1998 FIFA World Cup.


The 1998 FIFA World Cup in France was a landmark tournament that showcased the beauty and drama of football. With its expanded format, thrilling matches, standout players, and unforgettable moments, it remains one of the most celebrated World Cups in history. The triumph of the French team, led by Zinedine Zidane, and the emergence of new footballing nations left an indelible mark on the sport, highlighting the global appeal and unifying power of the beautiful game.

Read Also: The FIFA World Cup 1994 A Historic Football Extravaganza

See Also: The 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup A Journey Through Triumph and Adversity

Sure! Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) based on the information provided about the 1998 FIFA World Cup:

FAQs About 1998 FIFA World Cup

1. When and where was the 1998 FIFA World Cup held?

The 1998 FIFA World Cup was held in France from June 10 to July 12, 1998.

2. How many teams participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

A total of 32 teams participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, marking the first time the tournament was expanded from 24 teams.

3. Which cities in France hosted the 1998 FIFA World Cup matches?

The matches were held in ten cities across France: Paris (Stade de France), Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes, Saint-Étienne, Lens, Montpellier, and Saint-Denis (Stade de France).

4. Who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

France won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final.

5. Who was the top scorer of the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

Davor Šuker of Croatia was the top scorer of the tournament with six goals, winning the Golden Boot award.

6. Who was awarded the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament?

Zinedine Zidane of France was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

7. What was the most notable controversy of the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

One of the most notable controversies was the health scare of Brazil’s star player, Ronaldo, before the final match. He suffered a convulsive fit hours before the game but still played in the final, though he was not at his best.

8. Which match featured David Beckham’s infamous red card?

David Beckham received a red card in the Round of 16 match between England and Argentina. England lost the match in a penalty shootout.

9. How did Croatia perform in their first World Cup appearance?

Croatia had an impressive debut, finishing in third place. They defeated Germany 3-0 in the quarterfinals and lost to France in the semifinals before beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the third-place playoff.

10. What was the final score of the 1998 FIFA World Cup final match?

The final score was 3-0 in favor of France against Brazil.

11. Who scored the goals for France in the final match?

Zinedine Zidane scored two goals with headers from corner kicks, and Emmanuel Petit added a third goal in stoppage time.

12. How did France perform in the group stage?

France dominated Group C, winning all their matches against Denmark, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.

13. Which player scored two goals for France in the semifinal against Croatia?

Lilian Thuram scored both goals for France in the semifinal against Croatia, leading to a 2-1 victory.

14. How did the expanded format of the World Cup impact the tournament?

The expanded format allowed more nations to participate, making the competition more inclusive and globally representative. It also increased the number of matches and provided opportunities for emerging football nations to compete on the world stage.

15. What were some memorable moments from the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

Some memorable moments include Dennis Bergkamp’s stunning last-minute goal against Argentina, Michael Owen’s solo goal against Argentina, and Laurent Blanc’s golden goal against Paraguay in the Round of 16.

16. Which teams emerged as surprise packages in the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

Nigeria and Croatia emerged as surprise packages. Nigeria topped their group, while Croatia finished in third place in their debut World Cup appearance.

17. Who were some standout players in the 1998 FIFA World Cup?

Standout players included Zinedine Zidane (France), Ronaldo (Brazil), Davor Šuker (Croatia), Lilian Thuram (France), and Michael Owen (England).

18. How did the host nation, France, prepare for the World Cup?

France made significant investments in infrastructure, stadium renovations, and transportation networks. The Stade de France in Saint-Denis was constructed as the centerpiece of the event.

19. What impact did the 1998 FIFA World Cup have on the host nation?

France’s victory on home soil was a moment of national pride and unity. The success of the multicultural French team was seen as a triumph of integration and inclusivity.

20. How did the 1998 FIFA World Cup influence future tournaments?

The success of the expanded format set a precedent for future World Cups, leading to more inclusive and competitive tournaments with increased representation from different continents.

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