France was awarded the 1998 World Cup on 2 July 1992 by the executive committee of FIFA during a general meeting in Zürich, Switzerland. They defeated Morocco by 12 votes to 7. Switzerland withdrew, due to being unable to meet FIFA's requirements. This made France the third country to host two World Cups, after Mexico and Italy in 1986 and 1990 respectively. France previously hosted the third edition of the World Cup in 1938. England, who hosted the competition in 1966 and won it, were among the original applicants, but later withdrew their application in favour of an ultimately successful bid to host Euro 96.
On 4 June 2015, while co-operating with the FBI and the Swiss authorities, Chuck Blazer confirmed that he and other members of FIFA's executive committee were bribed during the 1998 and 2010 World Cups host selection process. Blazer stated that "we facilitated bribes in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup". Since France won the selection process it was initially thought the bribery came from its bid committee. It eventually transpired that the bribe payment was from the failed Moroccan bid.
The qualification draw for the 1998 World Cup finals took place in the Musée du Louvre, Paris on 12 December 1995. As tournament hosts, France was exempt from the draw as was Brazil the defending champions. 174 teams from six confederations participated, up 24 from the previous round. In Europe, fourteen countries qualified excluding France. Ten were determined after group play, nine group winners and the best second-placed team. The other eight group runners-up were drawn into pairs of four play-off matches – the winners of which qualifying for the finals as well. Five places were granted by CONMEBOL and CAF each, the governing bodies of South America and Africa respectively while three spots were contested between 30 teams through CONCACAF – the governing body in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The winner of the Oceanian zone advanced through to an intercontinental play-off against the runner-up of the Asian play-off, determined by the two best second placed teams.
Four nations qualified for the World Cup for the first time: Croatia, Jamaica, Japan and South Africa. The last team to qualify was Iran by virtue of beating Australia in a two-legged tie on 29 November 1997. It marked their first appearance in the finals since 1978, the last time Tunisia also qualified for the tournament. Chile qualified for the first time since 1982. Paraguay and Denmark qualified for the first time since 1986. Austria, England, Scotland and Yugoslavia return after missing only one final tournament. Among the teams who failed to qualify were two-time winners Uruguay for the second successive tournament and Sweden who finished third in 1994. Russia failed to qualify for the first time since 1978, where they contested as the USSR, after losing to Italy in the play-off round. As of 2014, this is the last time Scotland, Morocco, Norway, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Jamaica have qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals.
The following 32 teams, shown with final pre-tournament rankings, qualified for the final tournament.
France's bid to host the World Cup centered on a national stadium with 80,000 seats and nine other stadiums located across the country. When the finals were originally awarded in July 1992, none of the regional club grounds were of a capacity meeting FIFA's requirements – namely being able to safely seat 40,000. The proposed national stadium, colloquially referred to as the 'Grand stade' met with controversy at every stage of planning; the stadium's location was determined by politics, finance and national symbolism. As Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac successfully negotiated a deal with Prime Minister Édouard Balladur to bring the Stade de France – as it was named now, to the commune of Saint-Denis just north of the capital city. Construction on the stadium started in December 1995 and was completed after 26 months of work in November 1997 at a cost of ₣2.67 billion.
The choice of stadium locations was drafted from an original list of 14 cities. FIFA and CFO monitored the progress and quality of preparations, culminating in the former providing final checks of the grounds weeks before the tournament commenced. Montpellier was the surprise inclusion from the final list of cities because of its low urban hierarchy in comparison to Strasbourg, who boasted a better hierarchy and success from its local football team, having been taken over by a consortium. Montpellier however was considered ambitious by the selecting panel to host World Cup matches. The local city and regional authories in particular had invested heavily into football the previous two decades and were able to measure economic effects, in terms of jobs as early as in 1997. Some of the venues used for this tournament were also used for the previous World Cup in France in 1938. The Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, the Stade Municipal in Toulouse, the Gerland in Lyon, the Parc Lescure in Bordeaux and the Parc des Princes in Paris received the honor of hosting World Cup matches once again in 1998 as they had all done in 1938.
10 stadiums in total were used for the finals; in addition to nine matches being played at the Stade de France, a further eight took place in Paris Saint-Germain's Parc des Princes. The hosts France played 4 of their 7 matches in the national stadium; they also played in the second and third largest French cities of Marseille and Lyon respectively; they also played a Round of 16 knockout match in the northern city of Lens.
This was the first World Cup that fourth officials used electronic boards, instead of cardboard.
This was the first World Cup since the introduction of golden goals, banning of tackles from behind and allowance of three substitutions per game.
34 referees and 33 assistants officiated in the 1998 World Cup. As a result of the extension to 32 teams in the finals, there was an increase of 10 referees and 11 officials from the 1994 World Cup.
As with the preceding tournament, each team's squad for the 1998 World Cup finals consisted of 22 players. Each participating national association had to confirm their final 22-player squad by 1 June 1998.
Out of the 704 players participating in the 1998 World Cup, 447 were signed up with a European club; 90 in Asia, 67 in South America, 61 in Northern and Central America and 37 in Africa. 75 played their club football in England – five more than Italy and Spain. Barcelona of Spain was the club contributing to the most players in the tournament with 13 players on their side.
The average age of all teams was 27 years, 8 months – five months older than the previous tournament. Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon was the youngest player selected in the competition at 17 years, 3 months, while the oldest was Jim Leighton of Scotland at 39 years, 11 months.
All times are Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)
In the following tables:Pld = total games played
W = total games won
D = total games drawn (tied)
L = total games lost
GF = total goals scored (goals for)
GA = total goals conceded (goals against)
GD = goal difference (GF−GA)
Pts = total points accumulated
Defending champions Brazil won Group A after only two matches as the nation achieved victories over Scotland (2–1) and Morocco (3–0). Heading into the third game, Brazil had nothing to play for but still started its regulars against Norway, who was looking to upset Brazil once again. Needing a victory, Norway overturned a 1–0 deficit with 12 minutes remaining to defeat Brazil 2–1, with Kjetil Rekdal scoring the winning penalty to send Norway into the knockout stage for the first time.
Norway's victory denied Morocco a chance at the Round of 16, despite winning 3–0 against Scotland. It was only Morocco's second ever victory at a World Cup, having recorded its only previous win 12 years earlier on 11 June 1986.
Scotland managed only one point, coming in a 1–1 draw against Norway, and failed to get out of the first round for an eighth time in the FIFA World Cup, a record that stands to this date.
The knockout stage comprised the sixteen teams that advanced from the group stage of the tournament. There were four rounds of matches, with each round eliminating half of the teams entering that round. The successive rounds were the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final. There was also a play-off to decide third and fourth place. For each game in the knockout stage, any draw at 90 minutes was followed by 30 minutes of extra time; if scores were still level, there was a penalty shoot-out to determine who progressed to the next round. Golden goal comes into play if a team scores during extra time, thus becoming the winner which concludes the game.
Croatia beat the Netherlands to earn third place in the competition. Davor Šuker scored the winner in the 35th minute to secure the golden boot.
The final was held on 12 July 1998 at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis. France defeated holders Brazil 3–0, with two goals from Zinedine Zidane and a stoppage time strike from Emmanuel Petit. The win gave France their first World Cup title, becoming the sixth national team after Uruguay, Italy, England, West Germany and Argentina to win the tournament on their home soil. They also inflicted the second-heaviest World Cup defeat on Brazil, later to be topped by Brazil's 7-1 defeat by Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The pre-match build up was dominated by the omission of Brazilian striker Ronaldo from the starting lineup only to be reinstated 45 minutes before kick-off. He managed to create the first open chance for Brazil in the 22nd minute, dribbling past defender Thuram before sending a cross out on the left side that goalkeeper Fabien Barthez struggled to hold onto. France however took the lead after Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos conceded a corner which Zidane scored via a header. Three minutes before half-time, Zidane scored his second goal of the match, similarly another header from a corner. The tournament hosts went down to ten men in the 68th minute as Marcel Desailly was sent off for a second bookable offence. Brazil reacted to this by making an attacking substitution and although they applied pressure France sealed the win with a third goal: substitute Patrick Vieira set up his club teammate Petit in a counterattack to shoot low past goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel.
French president Jacques Chirac was in attendance to congratulate and commiserate the winners and runners-up respectively after the match. Several days after the victory, winning manager Aimé Jacquet announced his resignation from the French team with immediate effect.
Davor Šuker received the Golden Boot for scoring six goals. In total, 171 goals were scored by 112 different players, with six of them credited as own goals.6 goals
The All-star team is a squad consisting of the 16 most impressive players at the 1998 World Cup, as selected by FIFA's Technical Study Group.
After the tournament, FIFA published a ranking of all teams that competed in the 1998 World Cup finals based on progress in the competition, overall results and quality of the opposition.
The official mascot was Footix, a rooster first presented in May 1996. It was created by graphic designer Fabrice Pialot and selected from a shortlist of five mascots. Research carried out about the choice of having a cockerel as a mascot was greatly received: 91% associated it immediately with France, the traditional symbol of the nation. Footix, the name chosen by French television viewers, is a portmanteau of "football" and the ending "-ix" from the popular Astérix comic strip. The mascot's colours reflect those of the host nation's flag and home strip – blue for the jump suit, a red crest and with the words 'France 98' coloured in white.
The official song of the 1998 FIFA World Cup was "The Cup of Life," aka "La Copa de la Vida" recorded by Ricky Martin.
The match ball for the 1998 World Cup, manufactured by Adidas was named the Tricolore, meaning 'three-coloured' in French. It was the eighth World Cup match ball made for the tournament by the German company and was the first in the series to be multi-coloured. The tricolour flag and cockerel, traditional symbols of France were used as inspiration for the design.
The sponsors of the 1998 FIFA World Cup are divided into two categories: FIFA World Cup Sponsors and France Supporters.
The absence of Budweiser (which was one of the sponsors in the previous two World Cups) is notable due to the Evin law, which forbids alcohol-related sponsorship in France, including in sports events (and thus, being replaced by Casio).
FIFA, through several companies, sold the broadcasting rights for the 1998 FIFA World Cup to many broadcasters. In the UK BBC and ITV had the broadcasting rights. The pictures and audio of the competition were supplied to the TV and radio channels by the company TVRS 98, the broadcaster of the tournament.
The World Cup matches were broadcast in 200 countries. 818 photographers were credited for the tournament. In every match, a stand was reserved for the press. The number of places granted to them reached its maximum in the final, when 1,750 reporters and 110 TV commentators were present in the stand.
The official video game, World Cup 98 was released by EA Sports on 13 March 1998 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy. It was the first international football game developed by Electronic Arts since obtaining the rights from FIFA in 1997 and received mostly favourable reviews.
Many other video games, including International Superstar Soccer 98, World League Soccer 98, Actua Soccer 2 and Neo Geo Cup '98: The Road to the Victory were released in the buildup to the 1998 World Cup and evidently were based on the tournament. FIFA: Road to World Cup 98, also by EA Sports focused on the qualification stage.
Honorary FIFA President João Havelange praised France's hosting of the World Cup, describing the tournament as one that would "remain with me forever, as I am sure they will remain with everyone who witnessed this unforgettable competition". Lennart Johansson, the chairman of the organising committee for the World Cup and President of UEFA added that France provided "subject matter of a quality that made the world hold its breath".
Cour des Comptes, the quasi-judicial body of the French government released its report on the organisation of the 1998 World Cup in 2000.