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FIFA World Cup History

France 1998 FIFA World Cup

1998 World Cup Betting

Year: 1998

Participants: 32

Countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, United States, Yugoslavia

Championship: France 3, Brazil 0

Top goal scorer: Davor Suker, Croatia (6)

MVP: Ronaldo, Brazil.

For the first time in 20 years, a host country was able to hoist the World Cup Trophy at the end of the tournament.

That distinction would go to France, who surprised many people not only by beating heavy-favorite Brazil but by dominating the defending champion in a 3-0 win. French star Zinedine Zidane, who earlier in the tournament was suspended for two matches, came through in the end, scoring twice against Brazil.

France '98 was expanded to 32 teams, from 24, a fitting farewell to outgoing FIFA president Joao Havelange, who left his mark by increasing the game's world appeal. Despite the bigger field, there were relatively few upsets, although World Cup rookie Croatia surprised everyone by reaching the semifinals.

Croatia, a nation that didn't even exist in Italia '90, upset Germany 3-0 in the quarterfinals and beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the third-place game. Croatian Davor Suker led all scorers in the tournament with six goals.

The Brazilians, winners in 1994, couldn't win their fifth World Cup title but advanced to the championship match despite having lost star scorer Romario -- the Golden Ball (outstanding player) winner in '94 -- to injury before the tournament. Another Brazilian star, the 21-year-old Ronaldo -- who was on the roster but did not play in '94 -- suffered convulsions and had to be rushed to a hospital hours before the championship. He did not have a good game against France, but the two-time FIFA player of the year scored four goals and had three assists in the tournament and won the '98 Golden Ball award.

Another young star made his mark in '98, 18-year-old English phenom Michael Owen. Owen scored one of the best goals of the World Cup, in a thrilling loss to Argentina in the Round of 16, and could be one of the stars to watch.

As for the United States? Nobody expected the U.S. team to win France '98, but probably no one expected them to finish dead last, either. With losses to Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia in pool play, the Americans failed to build upon their success in '94, and coach Steve Sampson resigned shortly after the loss to Yugoslavia.

Attacking soccer helped increase the average number of goals per game to 2.63, compared with 2.47 in '94 and well up from the 2.28 average of the defense-dominated 1990 tournament in Italy.

There were a couple of ugly incidents outside the games early in the tournament. Before their team's first match against Tunisia, English fans rampaged through Marseille for three nights, fighting rival fans and police. And, before the Germany-Yugoslavia match, Lens was invaded by neo-Nazi groups; a 44-year-old police officer was beaten into a coma by a German wielding an iron bar.

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