The 1998 FIFA World Cup Final was a football match that was played on 12 July 1998 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis to determine the winner of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The final was contested by Brazil, who were the defending champions having won the previous FIFA World Cup four years earlier in 1994, and the host nation France, who had reached the final of the tournament for the first time. France won the match 3–0 to claim the World Cup for the first time, with the timing of the match two days before Bastille Day adding to the significance of the victory.Zinedine Zidane, who was named man of the match, scored twice before half-time and Emmanuel Petit added a third goal in the last minute. The match had an attendance in the region of 75,000.
Both sides had suffered mixed fortunes on the route to the final. Brazil made it out of the group stage with 6 points from three matches, with one defeat at the hands of Norway. After a 4–1 win over Chile and a 3–2 success against Denmark, they reached the final with a penalty-shootout victory over the Netherlands. As for France, they sailed through the group stages with three victories and defeated Paraguay in the knockout stages on golden goals. They had a penalty-shootout with Italy in the quarter-finals, and defeated recently formed Croatia to reach the final.
The match also saw speculation on the condition of the Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who suffered a convulsive fit on the eve of the match. After initially being left out of the team sheet, in spite of his physical state, it was announced just 72 minutes before kick-off that he was going to play. In the match, he sustained an injury in a clash with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Although it was believed that the decision to play Ronaldo had backfired, it was understandable as the player had been a crucial member of the side throughout the tournament, having scored four goals and created three more.
Brazil were drawn in Group A for the group stages alongside Scotland, Morocco and Norway. They recorded victories over Scotland (2–1) and Morocco (3–0) to progress but lost their final game 2–1 to Norway.
They next faced Group B runners-up Chile in the last-16 and comprehensively won 4–1, Ronaldo and César Sampaio each scoring twice. In the quarter-finals, they played Denmark, who had also won their previous game 4–1 (against Nigeria), but Brazil won a tight game 3–2. Despite being 1–0 down to a Martin Jorgensen goal in the second minute, Brazil turned the game around in their favour with goals from Bebeto (11) and Rivaldo (27). Brian Laudrup equalised for Denmark after 50 minutes but Brazil won the game 10 minutes later courtesy of a second from Rivaldo.
In the semi-finals, Brazil faced the Netherlands in Marseille. The game finished 1–1 at full-time, Ronaldo scoring just after half-time and Patrick Kluivert equalising for the Netherlands in the 87th minute, and the score remained the same through extra-time. The match had to be settled by penalties which Brazil won 4–2 to reach their second successive World Cup final.
In the second round they faced Group D runners-up Paraguay. France won a close encounter 1–0 in extra time thanks to a golden goal scored by Laurent Blanc. In the quarter-finals France faced Italy who had also scraped through to the quarter-finals with a 1–0 win over Norway. A tense match ended 0–0 after extra time and France won 4–3 on penalties after Italy's Luigi Di Biagio struck his penalty onto the crossbar.
In the semi-finals, France faced tournament surprise Croatia. After a goal-less first half, Croatia took the lead in the first minute of the second half through Davor Šuker, his fifth goal of the tournament. France responded immediately with Lilian Thuram scoring his first international goal. Thuram then added a second twenty minutes from time to send France to their first ever World Cup final. The match ended in controversy however when Laurent Blanc was sent off after a skirmish with Croatia's Slaven Bilić. Bilić had sunk down to his knees, seemingly in pain. Replays showed, however, that there was minimal contact between the players. Blanc's expulsion meant he would miss the final.
The build-up was dominated by the fitness of Brazil's star striker, Ronaldo, amid reports that he had suffered a pre-match fit.
Zinedine Zidane gave France the lead just before the half-hour mark with a header from an in-swinging corner. Only minutes later, Ronaldo was put through on goal by a long ball from Dunga, but he could not get the better of the onrushing Fabien Barthez, who collided with the Brazilian striker. Both needed assistance from the squad medics but quickly recovered. Brazil's superstar playmakers Leonardo and Rivaldo were kept quiet by Didier Deschamps and Christian Karembeu. Zidane doubled France's advantage on the stroke of half-time with an almost identical goal. In the second half, Ronaldo had a chance to halve the deficit. The ball fell for him inside the penalty box, but he could only plant his shot into Barthez's arms. Midfielder Emmanuel Petit wrapped up the scoring in the 90th minute, after receiving a perfect through ball from his Arsenal team mate Patrick Vieira, putting the victory beyond all doubt. France had to survive the last 20 minutes with only 10 men with the dismissal of Marcel Desailly.
As one of the major world sporting events, the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final was covered in some part by most broadcasters. It came before the expansion of the internet, therefore online coverage was not extensive.
According to a 2008 television programme, presented by Griff Rhys Jones, the eternal flame on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris "has only been extinguished once, by a drunken Mexican football supporter on the night that France beat Brazil here in Paris," most likely referring to this FIFA World Cup Final.