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World Cup 2018: Countries might fight for it, but FIFA will still have the cup

It’s futbol fever time around the world, as 32 top soccer nations gear up for the FIFA World Cup 2018. Facebook (FB) has introduced World Cup-themed filters and games in the Messenger, and Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube will cover the close to real-time highlights in Spanish as well, this time around. While brokerage experts such as Goldman Sachs (GS) and UBS (UBS) have predicted the winner of the coveted title, for now, the cup will go to FIFA. Yes, you read that right!

The winner of the 2018 World Cup, hosted by Russia between June 14 and July 15, will only receive a gold-plated bronze replica and not the original trophy. As per the new regulations by FIFA, the original cup will remain with the global sports body.

FIFA World Cup 2014
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In 1966, the first trophy that was produced in gold with a base of semi-precious stones – called the Jules Rimet Cup – was stolen when on display in England. After retrieving the trophy, FIFA tweaked its rules such that a nation that won three times would become permanent owners of the cup.

However, the recent update changes that. The 2018 top gun will receive but a replica. So, despite all the predictions, FIFA will still have the original cup.

Spanish Screeners

Google has tied up with Telemundo to give American viewers near-live video highlights in Spanish through YouTube. The Google-backed coverage comes with the option to view every game in VR, a custom emoji keyboard for Telemundo’s En Vivo app and real-time musical GIFs.

Fox and Telemundo paid $1 billion for the rights to show the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, almost double what ESPN/Univision made in the 2010 and 2014 editions. Most of the biggest matches will be aired through Fox and Telemundo, Hulu, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue.

During mid-May, Apple (AAPL) updated its Clips applications with new features and options that includes animated stickers, labels, and posters with customizable text related to soccer.

Predictions Galore

Predictions of who will win the title are already pouring in from many sources, but the brokerage firms are using machine learning and artificial intelligence to come out with their predictions. The firms’ approach has a fascinating comparison with stock investing. Out of the 32 World Cup teams, France, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, and Germany are strong contenders.

Goldman Sachs expects Brazil to lift the trophy, followed by France, Belgium, Portugal, and Germany. On the other hand, UBS predicts Germany to confront Brazil in the semi-final and then go on to win the tournament. Commerzbank expects Germany to lift the trophy for the fifth time, while Danske Bank picked Brazil. Germany lifted the cup in 2014.

EA Sports predicted France as this year’s winner, beating Germany by penalties. In the semi-final, France will beat Belgium and Germany will knock out Spain. EA Sports also expects France’s Antoine Griezmann to win the Golden Ball Award while Egypt, Iceland, and Mexico are touted to leave early in the competition. Despite the speculations, the World Cup would still be quite a spectacle to watch.

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