The 1998 FIFA World Cup was the 16th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It was held in France from 10 June to 12 July 1998. The country was chosen as the host nation by FIFA for the second time in the history of the tournament, defeating Morocco in the bidding process. It was the second time that France staged the competition (the first was in 1938), and the ninth time that it was held in Europe. Qualification for the finals began in March 1996 and concluded in November 1997. For the first time in the competition, the group stage was expanded from 24 teams to 32, with eight groups of four. A total of 64 matches were played in 10 stadiums located across 10 different host cities, with the opening match and final staged at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis. The tournament was won by France, who beat Brazil 3–0 in the final. France won their first title, becoming the seventh nation to win a World Cup, and the sixth (after Uruguay, Italy, England, West Germany and Argentina) to win the tournament on home soil. Croatia, Jamaica, Japan and South Africa made their first appearances in the finals.