a gentle, beautiful land full of contrasts,
the home of culture and humanism, the country of Human Rights, generosity,
hospitality and the spreading of ideas, realizes that organizing the 16th
World Cup implies a sense of honour and responsibility. On this occasion,
it will give its best and share its values, foremost of which is the universal
message of Freedom, Equality and Fraternity.
will not be the prerogative of one city over another, the preference for one region rather than another, one department favoured over another, the choice of one stadium rather than another. FRANCE 98 will involve the entire nation. Although the World Cup in the United States attracted a total of nearly 32 billion television viewers, FRANCE 98, with a total audience estimated at 37 billion, will be the most widely covered event by the media since the beginning of this competition. It will also be the one with the highest number of participants: 32 teams instead of 24 will be admitted to the final competition and will play 64 matches instead of 52.
a country which knows how to blend elegance, the art of living and excellent gastronomic experiences, has always been able to use its material, cultural and scientific assets to exert a tremendous influence throughout its history. Apart from its traditional activities of agriculture, livestock raising and tourism, France has undergone a successful industrial revolution, especially in the areas of new types of energy, the food industry, communications and transportation. In this connection, the great French accomplishments in aeronautics--with the Airbus, and rail transportation--with the TGV (high-speed trains), and the excellent road networks, will enable everyone involved in the 1998 World Cup to reach the cities hosting the 64 matches in record time. Rarely has it been so easy and quick to penetrate into the heart of a World Cup in order to get to know it better, understand it and love it.
it is deeply rooted in the wealth and potential of France, the organization of the 1998 World Cup also draws its substance from the heart of national football. Judging by the number of its permit-holders (2 million, of which 850 are professional players) as well as the enthusiasm the game arouses, it is clear that football is by far the most popular sport in the country. The French Football Federation, founded on April 7, 1919, had Jules Rimet as its first President and Henri Delaunay as its first Secretary-General, both of them the fathers of the World Cup. The French team's record of achievements includes a major title (European Champion in 1984) and several honourable classifications (World Cup semi-finals in 1958, 1982 and 1986). In addition, the French team won the Gold Medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.