The World Cup: An Introduction
| 1930: Uruguay
| 1934: Italy
| 1938: France
| 1950: Brazil
1954: Switzerland | 1958: Sweden | 1962: Chile | 1966: England | 1970: Mexico
1974: West Germany | 1978: Argentina | 1982: Spain | 1986: Mexico | 1990: Italy | 1994: USA
1998: France | 2002: Japan and South Korea
Unlike the 1930 World Cup, where all the entrants were invited, pre-qualification was necessary for the 1934 tournament in Italy. Even the hosts had to qualify to be allowed to participate in their own tournament, and the organising committee must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Italy beat Greece 4-0 in the decisive match.
Once again, football politics was to dictate who entered and who stayed at home. The British countries still considered themselves above international competition. Uruguay, the holders, were still upset at what they perceived to be a European boycott four years earlier, and decided to stay at home. Then Argentina, furious that Italy had poached three of their best players, claiming them to be of Italian descent1, deliberately sent a weakened team.
In all, 32 countries entered the 1934 tournament, 16 countries reaching the final tournament.
With Uruguay absent and Argentina under-strength, it wasn't too surprising that the quarter-finalists were all European. The hosts met Spain in a keenly-contested game in Florence that was played in stifling heat, and ended 1-1 after extra time. The rules called for a replay the following day, and both coaches made numerous changes to their team line-ups for the replay. There were five changes in the Italian team, and seven for Spain.
Even so, the conditions and the circumstances took their toll. Several players collapsed from exhaustion during the replay. In the end Italy won through, Giuseppe Meazza scoring the only goal of the game.
The weather also played a part in the semi-final between Italy and Austria, played in Milan. A torrential storm turned the pitch at the San Siro Stadium into a mud bath. But Meazza rose above the mud to become the local hero once again, scoring the winning goal and putting Italy in the final. There they would meet Czechoslovakia, who'd beaten Germany in the other semi-final.
The final took place in Rome on Sunday 10 June. For a few minutes, it looked as if the home supporters were going to be disappointed, when the Czechoslovakian winger Antonin Puc scored the opening goal with 15 minutes to go. But five minutes later, Raimondo Orsi - one of the players Italy had controversially 'poached' from Argentina - scored an equaliser for the host nation. With the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the game went into extra time.
Things looked bad for Italy once again when Meazza was injured in a tackle. But Meazza soldiered on, and there was to be a happy ending for him and for Italy. Despite his injury, he managed to supply the pass from which Angelo Schiavio scored the winner. Italy triumphed 2-1, and once again the World Cup ended with the host nation celebrating victory.
For some inexplicable reason, FIFA decided that Mexico would play the USA in Rome in a final qualifying match for the 1934 finals, three days before the tournament began. The USA won the match 4-2, which meant the Mexicans had travelled all the way to Italy and did not even get an opportunity to play in the tournament proper.
The 1934 World Cup final is unique in that the captains of the two finalists were both goalkeepers. Frantisek Planicka of Czechoslovakia and Giampiero Combi of Italy faced each other as opposing goalkeepers and captains.
For The Record
Italy 7 : 1 USA
Czechoslovakia 2 : 1 Romania
Germany 5 : 2 Belgium
Austria 3 : 2 France after extra time
Spain 3 : 1 Brazil
Switzerland 3 : 2 Netherlands
Sweden 3 : 2 Argentina
Hungary 4 : 2 Egypt
Germany 2 : 1 Sweden
Austria 2 : 1 Hungary
Italy 1 : 1 Spain after extra time
Italy 1 : 0 Spain
Czechoslovakia 3 : 2 Switzerland
Italy 1 : 0 Austria
Czecholsovakia 3 : 1 Germany
Third Place Play-Off
Germany 3 : 2 Austria
Italy 2 : 1 Czechoslovakia after extra time
Tournament Leading Goalscorer
Nejedly (Czechoslovakia) - 5 goals
Other Entries in This Project
- The Football World Cup - An Introduction
- Football World Cup, 1930, Uruguay
- Football World Cup, 1938, France
- Football World Cup, 1950, Brazil
- Football World Cup, 1954, Switzerland
- Football World Cup, 1958, Sweden
- Football World Cup, 1962, Chile
- Football World Cup, 1966, England
- Football World Cup, 1970, Mexico
- Football World Cup, 1974, West Germany
- Football World Cup, 1978, Argentina
- Football World Cup, 1982, Spain
- Football World Cup, 1986, Mexico
- Football World Cup, 1990, Italy
- Football World Cup, 1994, USA
- Football World Cup, 1998, France
- Football World Cup, 2002, Japan and South Korea