The World Cup Kicks Off

Bloomberg News

The world’s most-watched sporting event has begun. Panama and Iceland make their first appearances in the soccer tournament — as do video reviews to help referees make the contentious calls — although popular teams from Italy, the Netherlands and the U.S. failed to qualify. Also new is the $11 billion Russia has spent as host. Many bookmakers favor Brazil, with Germany, Spain, France and Argentina next in line. EA Sports, the video-game company that correctly predicted the last two winners by simulating the entire tournaments, says France will beat Germany in the final. Not new: zealous fans cheering for their national teams. Game on.

 

Actors perform during the opening ceremony. 

Photographer: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

The opening ceremony takes place at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Photographer: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images  

A visitor poses beside (horns in on?) the tournament’s mascot, Zabivaka, before the opening ceremony.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

Russian fans prepare for the opening match, between their team and Saudi Arabia.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

A Russian booster joins in the singing at the opening ceremony.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Saudi fans pause for a Coke.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

A statue of Lenin presides over a bit of capitalism.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

Russian fans at the opening match, against Saudi Arabia.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg 

A Colombia booster gets a bit ahead of himself.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

The Russian National Guard prepares to keep order.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

From center to right, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, FIFA President Gianni  Infantino and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening ceremony.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

Soccer fans celebrate during the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia which the home team won 5-0.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg