Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

It's the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia this month and I'm loving it. I'm not surprised that over 3 billion people watch this international football tournament every four years. 32 of the worlds best football teams, competing in eight groups - two, Iceland and Panama, for the first time ever in the World Cup, in 11 different cities. In 2026 it will be 46.

Still seems inconceivable that Italy and the Netherlands didn't qualify but that's the case this year, but we will still have 64 games of football in just under a month. So as we approach the end of the first stage - England play Belgium tomorrow to see who finishes top of their group - here is why I'm loving the World Cup with my family this year.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

I've written before about my love of football stemming from when I was a child and the influence of not only family but an inspirational teacher, who was a Baggies fan. And also how my efforts to be a female footballer and reporter were thwarted at an early age. Thankfully things have changed for the current generation. And recently I took my tween to his first football match to watch Newcastle United at St. James Park - a brilliant day. The World Cup is halfway through and I’m really pleased this year because my boys are of an age where they are really getting into it and loving it too. 

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

My Short History with the World Cup

This is the 21st World Cup, but until 1982 I don't remember much about them but since then it has played a significant part in my life every four years.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

Spain 1982

The first world cup I remember was the 1982 competition in Spain. I don't remember much except that Bryan Robson scored a goal in under 30 seconds against France. But then we went out in the second round.

Mexico 1986

The infamous hand of god  - need I say more but I did watch it with my dad at home and I remember him being not too impressed with Maradonnas first goal but we were all impressed with his second against England when he picked the ball up in his own half, twisted and turned past every player in front of him before slotting the ball home.

Italia 90

I was now a student and remember watching England lose on penalties in a large room with a big screen in the student union - family viewing had by now ended and it was friends that I watched the matches with. Gazza cried at the thought of missing the final after a booking but in the end, it didn't matter as England lost to Germany on penalties. With no social media in those days, we kept up to date with scores in the earlier rounds while at Glastonbury by relying on performers shouting them out, Billy Bragg was one of them if I remember correctly. 1990 was also the year of what I still think is the best football song - World in Motion by New Order featuring John Barnes - loved it.

USA 1994

Still a student in Birmingham but this time I was supporting the Republic of Ireland as England failed to qualify which made it even harder for us to convince housemates that weren't football fans to let us watch it.

France 1998

I watched the final with a French friend - amazing. At least we had something to celebrate! It was also the year I was interviewed by Radio 1 Newsbeat as the organisation I worked for had estimated that we'd sell a million extra pints of beer - it was a pub company - if England won the World Cup. Sadly we didn't

Japan 2002

The boss of my employer, the same one, at the time was lucky enough to travel to Japan on corporate hospitality and we were all really envious. Thanks to the World Cup being hosted in Japan, my visit to Tokyo three years later on a round-the-world honeymoon trip would be a lot easier as there were now lots of signage in English.

Germany 2006

We had recently been to Berlin ahead of the tournament and I remember seeing the stadia being built. An aside here but it is an amazing city to go and visit. But back to the football and who could forget the headbutt from Zinedine Zidane?

South Africa 2010

I'm going to be really honest here and say I remember very little about this world cup - probably reflecting the standard of football played by England, except that we 'encouraged' our three-year-old to watch it, and thereby allowing us to view it, by providing a chocolate footballs for each goal scored in a match. So at least he was happy with the result against Germany.

Brazil 2014

This tournament brought back amazing memories of my round the world trip that had finished in Rio in 2005. Much better memories than I have of the football.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

1. Family viewing

There is not much TV that we all sit down and watch together. Maybe a film on family film night accompanied by a pizza, and they love Ninja Warrior, but day to day the boys don't really like my TV viewing choices and unless its Star Wars then I'm not really into theirs. Sadly long gone are the days of Peppa Pig. So with the World Cup being on terrestrial telly its given us all something to watch together and discuss from offside, to strategy and team tactics to VAR ... and for that, I'm really grateful. Go to say the BBC commentary teams are so much better than ITV though.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

2. The perfect World Cup for our family

My boys are 9 and 11 now so by the time the next World Cup comes along, and who knows if England will qualify, they will be teenagers and more than likely off with their mates watching the matches. So I'm making the most of this year's World Cup as it may be the first and last that we all watch and enjoy together.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

3. Female Pundits & Commentators

I'm loving that there are finally female commentators and pundits. I can't believe its taken until 2018 for Vicki Sparks to become the first woman to commentate a World Cup match broadcast live on terrestrial TV. Unfortunately, there have been some ridiculous sexist remarks from people who really should know better. But I've always loved football and I want my boys to grow up knowing that both men and women both excel and are knowledgeable about football and indeed all sports. Gabby Logan, Alex Scott, Eniola Alukoand and Jacqui Oatley have all been brilliant but there need to be more experts like them so it's no longer unusual and ground-breaking.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

4. England are winning ... and playing well

My boys only know of an England team that plays well and wins. There's no multiple years of hurt for them so far. Unbelievably, as we head into the final round of the first round and after a 6-1 win over Panama, England are winning and that is a reason to be happy. Not only is England winning but also playing well. They are committed, well-organised, looked to have practised set-plays to perfection and have scored the penalties they have been awarded - let's hope this happens in a shoot-out too if one arises.

Why I'm Loving the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

5 It's been about the football

So many previous World Cups have been marred by off the pitch news, violence and allegations. I'm really pleased to say that as we approach the end of the first round this World Cup has all been about the football played on the pitch ... and maybe a little about VAR too!

Don't forget over on our Twitter page you can win a 3D puzzle of the FIFA Russia 2018 World Cup Match Ball and one from Spain 1982!

There's still two weeks to go and I'm loving this year's World Cup, are you?

Deb x

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