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The finals involved 32 teams, of which 31 came through qualifying competitions, while the host nation qualified automatically.
Of the 32 teams, 20 had also appeared in the last tournament in 2014, while both Iceland and Panama made their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup.
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Notable countries that failed to qualify include four-time champions Italy (for the first time since 1958), three-time runners-up and third placed in 2014 the Netherlands (for the first time since 2002), and four reigning continental champions: 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon, two-time Copa América champions and 2017 Confederations Cup runners-up Chile, 2016 OFC Nations Cup winners New Zealand, and 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup champions United States (for the first time since 1986).
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The 22-member FIFA Executive Committee convened in Zürich on 2 December 2010 to vote to select the hosts of both tournaments.
Russia won the right to be the 2018 host in the second round of voting.
France won the match 4–2 to claim their second World Cup title, marking the fourth consecutive title won by a European team, after Italy in 2006, Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014.
France, as being the World Cup victors, will represent the world in the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.