World Cup History – Funny Titbits

World Cup history – Uruguay 1930

Only 13 nations took part in the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay, with a majority of seven coming from south America, but it proved a huge success.


The referee blew the final whistle six minutes early, realised his mistake and then had to call the players, some of whom were already in the bath, back to finish the game.



World Cup history – Italy 1934

Of the last eight, Spain and Italy required a replay to separate them after drawing 2-2 at the end of extra-time.


They played again the next day, with Italy’s Guiseppe Meazza scoring the only goal of the game.


On Sunday 10 June, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini called the nation to a standstill in anticipation of a glorious triumph for Italy. Mussolini saw the competition as a chance to spread fascist propaganda, something that cast a shadow over the tournament.


World Cup history – France 1938

Brazil and Czechoslovakia’s first match ended in an all-out brawl, with three players sent off and two taken to hospital.


Dr Ottorino Barassi, the Italian Fifa vice-president, kept the trophy safe in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the Second World War.



World Cup history – Brazil 1950

India pulled out because Fifa would not let them play in bare feet.


Defeat was too much for the Brazilian officials and they forgot to present the trophy to the winners, leaving Jules Rimet himself to seek out the Uruguayan captain and belatedly do the honours.



World Cup history – Switzerland 1954


There were some incredible scorelines, with 26 matches producing 140 goals at an average of 5.38 goals per game.


As expected, Hungary bulldozed their way through their group, beating Korea 9-0 and an under-strength West Germany 8-3, before knocking out Brazil 4-2 in the last eight.

The game ended in an all-out brawl in the dressing room after three players were sent off.


Despite going 3-0 up, the Swiss were beaten 7-5 by Alpine rivals Austria in the quarter-finals, a World Cup record for the number of goals in a game.


West Germany defeated Yugoslavia in the last eight and demolished Austria 6-1 in the semis to set up a rematch against Hungary in the final.

World Cup history – Sweden 1958


Brazil won their first World Cup in a finals that marked the arrival on the world stage of the incomparable Pele.


Before the final, Brazil had the Swedish cheerleaders banned from the pitch because they were worried they would give the hosts an added advantage. But, when Brazil won, the entire nation showed the world just how to celebrate.



World Cup history – Chile 1962

A fan threw a bottle at Brazilian Garrincha, hitting him on the head, after he was sent off during the semi-final against Chile. He replied by parading the Chilean flag after Brazil won the final, but there was plenty of violence involving the teams as well.

It started in the opening round, with the worst trouble occurring in the game between Italy and hosts Chile, which became known as the “Battle of Santiago”.

Italy’s Ferrini was sent off and had to be dragged from the pitch by police when he refused to walk.

Team-mate Mario David was also ordered off when he retaliated to a punch in the face by kicking his opponent’s neck.

World Cup history – England 1966

A dispute over qualification meant 16 African nations refused to take part, but Portugal was among those who did so for the first time.

England beat the South Americans 1-0 but the match was played in a bad spirit. It was held up for 10 minutes when Argentina’s captain, Antonio Rattin, was sent off and refused to go, before he was finally dragged away.

The final match was not without controversy, as a Russian linesman awarded England their third goal after the ball hit the bar and bounced onto the ground.

TV replays failed to prove if the ball had crossed the line, and 40 years after the event it remains a major talking point.


World Cup history – Mexico 1970

Brazil took the Jules Rimet trophy home for good after a wonderful display of attacking football helped beat Italy.

Holders England had a difficult build-up to the tournament. They were labelled “thieves and drunks” by the Mexican press and defensive lynchpin Bobby Morre was arrested on trumped-up shoplifting charges in Colombia. He was bailed to play in the tournament.

West Germany came up against Italy in the last four, with Franz Beckenbauer forced to play with his arm in a sling. His courage went unrewarded and the Italians ran out 3-2 winners in extra-time to earn their first final appearance for 32 years.

World Cup history – West Germany 1974

Off the pitch there was little harmony among the West Germans and their players were constantly at loggerheads with the authorities over player bonuses.

Bad feeling remained after the final and the team’s victory celebrations were spoiled when several players walked out of the banquet after officials barred their wives.

World Cup history – Argentina 1978

Argentina won their first World Cup – 48 years after reaching their first final – but the event was shrouded in controversy both on and off the pitch. There was huge opposition to Argentina hosting the event as the country was run by a military dictatorship.

There had been threats of a major boycott in protest at General Videla’s totalitarian regime. But many of the top footballing nations – and first-timers such as Iran and Tunisia – ended up going. However, when a leading tournament official was assassinated en route to his first press conference doubts about Argentina’s suitability to host the event intensified.

World Cup history – Spain 1982

The most bizarre incident came when Kuwait walked off the pitch in their game against France in Valladolid after a row over whether the referee had blown his whistle to stop play. They were ordered back on by Prince Fahid and France eventually won the match 4-1.

World Cup history – Mexico 1986

The Mexico World Cup was dominated by one man – Argentina’s Diego Maradona. He proved beyond doubt that he was the best player of his generation as he helped his country to their second World Cup with a win over West Germany.

But as well as moments of genius he plumbed the depths with his notorious “Hand of God” goal against England.

Colombia was scheduled to host the tournament but had to give up that right for financial reasons.


World Cup history – Italy 1990

A tournament dominated by negative, defensive football proved memorable for England’s showing – their best in football’s showpiece event since 1966.

England lost on penalties in the semi-finals to West Germany who went on to win probably the worst final in history for their third title.

They beat Argentina 1-0 courtesy of a dubious Andreas Brehme penalty.

England’s semi-final in Turin produced one of the most vivid images of the tournament as Paul Gascoigne burst into tears after a booking which meant he would miss the final if his side went through. They did not.

World Cup history – USA 1994

There was a shocking postscript to the USA group match against highly-fancied Colombia when Andres Escobar was murdered on his return to the troubled South American country. Escobar had conceded an own goal in a surprise 2-1 defeat.

And controversy followed Argentina’s Diego Maradona who was banned mid-tournament after taking illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.

World Cup history – France 1998

Brazil had required penalties to get past Holland in their semi-final and the game had taken its toll.

And on the day of the final mystery surrounded the “convulsion” Ronaldo suffered the night before the game.

The striker was first left off the team-sheet and then reinstated after rushing to the Stade de France when a hospital check-up gave him the all clear.

World Cup history – Japan & South Korea 2002

French boss Roger Lemerre was sacked after the reigning champions and Euro 2000 winners went out without scoring following shock losses to Senegal and Denmark.

More than three million people took to the streets of Korean capital Seoul to celebrate the defeat of Italy.


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