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1934 world cup

1934 World Cup: The Birth Of A European Footballing Giant

Closely watched by dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy fulfilled the double mission of projecting itself onto the international and political stage by winning the 1934 World Cup. The second World Cup organized by FIFA triggered the interest of 32 national teams.

Therefore, for the first time, teams had to qualify. Despite being the host nation, even Italy had to qualify for the tournament, playing a preliminary round against Greece. The most significant absence was that of the 1930 winners.

Austrian national side celebrating at the FIFA world cup 1934
Austrians Celebrating A Victory At The 1934 World Cup

1934 World Cup Facts

Dates: May 27 – June 10, 1934
1934 FIFA World Cup Final Score: Italy – Czechoslovakia 2-1
3rd place: Germany – Austria 3-2
Teams: 16
Stadiums: 8
Host cities: 8
Matches played: 17
Goals: 70
Attendance: 358,000
Top scorer: Oldrich Nejedly (Czechoslovakia) 5 goals

postcard of the 1934 world cup

Background To The 1934 FIFA World Cup

Both Sweden and Italy wanted to host the 2nd World Cup in 1934. However, on May 14, 1932, Italy was allowed the honor since Sweden eventually withdrew before the vote.

This was the first time a country became the host nation without having participated in a tournament. This would also happen with Japan in 2002  and Qatar in 2022.

This World Cup had a lot of controversies. For example, in 1934, the dictator Benito Mussolini was ruling over Italy by establishing a fascist regime. He used the 1934 World Championships to promote fascism with propaganda and media control.

referee Ivan Eklind

An example would be the presence of the Fascism symbol on the 1934 FIFA World Cup poster. Another controversy is that certain referees made ‘strange’ decisions in favor of the Italian team. The rumor is that Mussolini was involved in the referee selection for Italian matches.

This tournament would be more significant than its predecessor four years earlier. Instead of just one host city, there would be eight host cities and eight stadiums where the matches would be played.

Switzerland at the 1934 World Cup
Switzerland at the 1934 World Cup

1934 World Cup Participants

The 1934 World Cup in Italy was the first edition where countries needed to qualify to participate. Thirty-two countries were interested, but only 16 would join. As a host country, the Italian national team had to qualify.  This was the first and only time a host nation was not automatically qualified.

Twelve European places were allocated to the following countries: Italy, Romania, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland. All European countries except France, Belgium, and Romania qualified for the first time.

Unlike the 1930 championships, there was a massive absence of Latin American countries in the 1934 FIFA World Cup.

Austria at 1934 world cup

Two places for South America were allocated to the following countries: Brazil and Argentina. Both countries qualified automatically without any matches played since Chile and Peru withdrew. Therefore, Brazil and Argentina were the only South American countries to have made the long trip to Italy.

Uruguay which the Great Depression hit, did not participate either. They protested that many European countries refused to participate in the previous event hosted in Uruguay. Therefore Uruguay, the reigning world cup holders is the first and last country so far that didn’t qualify for a World Cup after winning the previous championships.

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The Home Nations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) also refused to qualify for the 1934 edition. They perceived the annual British Home Championship as a superior tournament.

One place for North/Central America and the Caribbean was allocated to the United States. However, a qualification match had to be played against Mexico in Italy 3 days before the kick-off! The United States submitted its entry after the official deadline, which caused this last-minute qualification match.

1934 world cup participants

The Mexican team lost the game and returned immediately to their country.

One place for Africa was allocated to Egypt, the first African team to have qualified for a World Cup. It would take seven World Championships before we would see Africa again. Unfortunately for all non-European countries, they lost their first match, which resulted in a short stay in Italy.

1934 World Cup Draw

The first World Cup was so successful that 32 teams wanted to play in Italy for the second. Therefore, even the hosts, Italy, had to qualify – something they did without much difficulty against Greece. Just before the tournament began, the draw was made at the Ambasciatori Hotel in Rome.

The first round was to be a knockout stage, so half the teams would go home after only one game. After submitting their entry after the official deadline, the USA was forced to compete in a play-off against Central American qualifiers Mexico.

Netherlands at 1934 world cup

 

World Cup Pools

Unlike 1930, the 1934 World Cup excluded the pool stages. Instead, the championships started immediately with a knockout phase to change the tournament into a straight knockout tournament. This means there had to be a match-winner from the beginning.

If a match ended in a draw after 90 minutes, there would be 30 minutes extra time. The game will be replayed the next day if the score is still a draw.

The 1934 edition started with eight matches that all started simultaneously. The winner of each game advanced to the Quarter-Finals. Both the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals began at the same time as well. The Quarter-Finals stage and the match for third place made their introduction.

Eight seed countries (top teams) were Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Brazil, and Italy. They were kept apart from each other in the first round. The first-round draw was made again a few days before the 1934 soccer tournament kick-off.

1934 FIFA World Cup Stadiums

The 1934 World Cup was hosted in 8 cities and eight stadiums.

The following stadiums were used:

Stadio Littoriale

Stadio Littoriale

Location: Bologna
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 38,279
Matches: 2
Status: Goes by the name Stadio Renato Dall’Ara and has been used in the 1990 World Cup.

Stadio Giovanni Berta

Stadio Giovanni Berta

Location: Florence
Opened: 1931
Capacity: 47,290
Matches: 3
Status: Goes by the name Stadio Artemio Franchi and was renovated in 1990 for Italia 1990.

Stadio Luigi Ferraris

Stadio Luigi Ferraris

Location: Genoa
Opened: 1911
Capacity: 36,703
Matches: 1
Status: Has been rebuilt in 1989 for the 1990 World Championships. It is one of the oldest Italian stadiums.

Stadio San Siro

Stadio San Siro

Location: Milan
Opened: 1926
Capacity: 55,000
Matches: 3
Status: It still exists and was renovated in the 50s and 80s for the 1990 event.

Giorgio Ascarelli

Stadio Giorgio Ascarelli

Location: Naples
Opened: 1930
Capacity: 40,000
Matches: 2
Status: Destroyed by bombardments in World War II.

Stadio Nazionale PNF

Stadio Nazionale PNF

Location: Rome
Opened: 1911
Capacity: 47,300
Matches: 3
Status: Demolished in 1953 and has been replaced by the Stadio Flamini.

Stadio Littorio

Stadio Littorio

Location: Trieste
Opened: 1932
Capacity: 8,000
Matches: 1
Status: Does not exist anymore since Stadio Nereo Rocco replaced it in 1992.

Stadio Benito Mussolini

Stadio Benito Mussolini

Location: Turin
Opened: 1933
Capacity: 28,140
Matches: 2
Status: Still exists and goes by the name Stadio Olimpico di Torino.

1934 World Cup Memorable Matches

Spain – Brazil 3-1

Spain – Brazil 3-1

Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa – Attendance: 21,000

Not all key players from the Brazilian team traveled the long distance to Italy. This could be the reason why they lost their first match against Spain. The Spaniards José Iraragorri (2x) and Isidro Lángara scored for Spain. Center forward Leônidas da Silva who would be more successful in the next World Cup scored the only goal for Brazil.

The loss resulted in immediate elimination, and the team returned to Brazil after a short stay in Italy.

Hungary at 1934 world cup

Hungary – Egypt 4-2

Stadio Giorgio Ascarelli, Naples – Attendance: 12,000

This is the first tournament match played by an African country. As the only participant from Africa, they lost the first match. The first half ended 2-2. Winger Abdulrahman Fawzi scored both goals for Egypt. A 3rd goal scored by him was disallowed. Pál Teleki and Géza Toldi scored two goals for Hungary in the first half.

In the 2nd half, forward Jenő Vincze scored the 3rd goal for Hungary, and striker Géza Toldi scored his 2nd goal, the 4th goal for Hungary. Egypt had to make an early trip back home as well.

USA team at 1934 world cup

Italy – USA 7-1

Stadio Nazionale PNF, Rome – Attendance: ~13,000

After USA’s last World Cup match in 1930, where Argentina beat them 6-1, it was Italy’s turn now. Italy crushed the USA with seven goals. Forward Angelo Schiavio scored a hat-trick, and his 3rd goal is the 100th World Cup goal.

Other players who scored a goal were Raimundo Orsi (2x), Giovanni Ferrari, and Giuseppe Meazza. American Aldo Donelli was able to score the only goal for the USA. They were already eliminated only three days after the USA qualified.

swedish team at 1934 world cup

Sweden – Argentina 3-2

Stadio Littoriale, Bologna – Attendance: ~15,000

Due to internal disputes, not a single Argentinian player from the 1930 World Cup Final was included in this squad. This may very well be the reason why they lost the first match. Argentina took the lead twice, with goals scored by Ernesto Belis and Alberto Galateo.

Sweden – Argentina 3-2

It was Swedish striker Sven Jonasson who scored the two equalizers. Striker Knut Kroon scored the 3rd and decisive goal for Sweden.

All the non-European countries were eliminated in the first round. This means the Quarter-Finals consisted of European countries only. This was the first, and last time so far this has happened in World Cup history.

Italy – Spain 1-1, 1-0 (Quarter-Final)

Stadio Giovanni Berta, Florence – Attendance: ~45,000

Their first match was played with lots of aggressiveness. Several players became injured and, as a result, played their last World Cup match. Italian player Mario Pizziolo broke his leg, and Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora could not play in the rematch.

This rough match resulted in a 1-1 game scored by Spaniard Luis Regueiro and Italian Giovanni Ferrari. Therefore, the first extra match in World Championship history had to be played. Both countries played the next day again and in the same stadium. It was Italian forward Giuseppe Meazza who became the hero of the match.

He was the only player to have scored in the entire game resulting in the elimination of Spain and a ticket to the Semi-Final.

1934 Semi-Finals

Giuseppe Meazza playing

Italy – Austria 1-0

Stadio San Siro, Milan – Attendance: 60,000

Austria was also known as the Wunderteam (Wonder Team). They were considered the favorite for the World Cup trophy, with 14 unbeaten matches from 1931 to 1932. Trainer Hugo Meisl emphasized a successful short-passing game style. The World Championship, however, ended here for Austria.

The wet field conditions prevented Austria from implementing its strategy. Due to 1 goal only being scored by Italy, Austria had to play the match for third place. The striker Enrique Guaita scored Italy to their first World Cup Final.

 

Germany 2 Sweden 1 in 1934 in Milan

Czechoslovakia – Germany 1

Stadio Nazionale PNF, Rome – Attendance: 10,000

Germany, beating Belgium 5-2 in their first match, was too weak for Czechoslovakia. Striker Oldřich Nejedlý scored all three goals. With his three goals, he became the 1934 World Cup top scorer with five goals in total. Rudolf Noack scored the only goal for Germany. This was the first and last time Germany lost against Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia - Germany 1

Both teams would encounter each other twice before the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia in the early 90s. The 2nd time was in 1958 (2-2), and the last time was in the 1990 Quarter-Final match, in which Germany won 1-0.

Italy winning the 1934 world cup

1934 World Cup Final

The 1934 World Cup was a knockout tournament. This meant every match had to be won from the start to reach the Final. It was both Italy and Czechoslovakia that made it to the Final. Unlike the 1930 Final, this was the first all-European Final in history.

On June 10, the Final was played in Stadio Nazionale PNF in Rome with around 45,000 attendees. In the Final, no goal was scored until 15 minutes before the end of the match. It was Czechoslovakian player Antonín Puč (71′) who scored.

1934 line ups

Less than 10 minutes before the end, Italian player Raimundo Orsi changed the 0-1 score to 1-1 (81′) with an excellent curling shot. In extra time (the first Final where extra time had to be played), only 5 minutes were needed by Italy to change the score into a final to 2-1. Italy became the second World Cup champions.

Czechoslovakia in final of 1934 world cup

Italian Angelo Schiavio (95′) scored the winning goal. For the 2nd time in a row, a host country has won again. Czechoslovakia would only play once more in a World Cup Final 28 years later. Italy, however, would show another outstanding performance in the next championships.

A funny fact: Italian player Raimundo Orsi tried to copy the same curling shot as he had in the Final, scoring the 1-1. The press photographers wanted to take a photo of his skill the next day after the Final. But after more than 20 attempts, he could still not perform the shot successfully. He failed each time.

fiif world cup 1934

Title Holders Refused To Defend

Uruguay decided not to defend its title, which would never happen again in World Cup history, in protest of the Italian boycott of the edition four years earlier.

At the technological level, one of the significant innovations was the live radio broadcast of the matches in 12 countries. With the ball rolling, Europe’s supremacy became evident. The eight teams that made it through to the quarter-finals were all from Europe.

All matches in the tournament followed knock-out stage rules. The 16 teams that qualified for the final stage played one match. Suppose the game ended in a draw, extra time. If the stalemate persisted, they would play a new game the next day.

Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia

Italian Journey During 1934 World Cup

In the final match of the 1934 FIFA World Cup, in front of a crowd of 50 thousand people, Raimondo Orsi and Angelo Schiavio scored Italy’s goals. It was part of a comeback that earned them the title.  Czechoslovakia took the lead in the 81st minute. However, the Italians managed to draw level and turned things around in extra time to win the title.

Italy put on a consistent campaign. They were responsible for the tournament’s most convincing win in their first match, beating the United States 7-1. In the quarter-finals, they needed two games to get past Spain. The first match finished 1-1.

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The Italians won the second game 1-0, amidst many complaints from the Spaniards about supposedly badly disallowed goals.

In the semi-final, the Italians beat Austria 1-0. Their opponents were known for their offensive strategy and short passes. However, some say Saint Peter lent Italy a helping hand, as it rained a lot during the match, leveling out both teams.

1934 brazil team
1934 Brazil World Cup Team

Brazil Makes The Same Mistake Again

Without holders from Uruguay, it was left to Brazil and Argentina to represent South America in the 1934 World Cup. Both countries, which would become great footballing powers, played nothing more than supporting roles.

The Argentinians lost 3-2 to Sweden in their first match, and the Brazilians lost to Spain. Argentina did not have any players who had played for them in 1930. Several players had changed sides and adopted Italy as their home nation, the country of origin of many players’ families.

brazil team at 1934 world cup

One of them, midfielder Luis Monti played an essential role in Italy’s title.

Brazil repeated the unsuccessful setup of the previous World Cup. Football directors from the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo did not resolve their political differences, and the team, which had to travel 15 days on a ship to Italy, did not manage to get through the first match, losing 3-1 to Spain.

This was Brazil’s worst performance in World Cup history. This time the problem was a disagreement over whether professional players should be used.

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The Brazilian Sport Confederations (CBD) disagreed with the level of professionalism adopted by many of their counterparts in São Paulo.

Ultimately, Brazil ended up fielding a team with players mainly from the Rio de Janeiro State, with nine players from Botafogo. They trained only once before their first match of the 1934 FIFA World Cup. Leonidas da Silva scored Brazil’s only goal at that tournament and began building his career with the national side.

Leônidas Da Silva doing a bicycle kick
Leonidas da Silva

The Records Set At The 1934 World Cup

  • 9 of the 12 European countries qualified for their first World Cup appearance: Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland.
  • Only the World Cup where the champion of the previous winner (Uruguay) was not participating.
  • The Italian national team is the first European country to win a World Championships.
  • Countries had to qualify for the first time to participate.
  • Only World Cup where the host nation had to qualify.
  • The quarter-Finals stage and the match for third place were played for the first time.
  • The match between Italy – Spain (1-1) was the first match that ended in a draw.

1934 world cup participants

  • The match between Austria – France (3-2) was the first match where extra time was required.
  • The first time Africa participated in a World Cup (Egypt).
  • Only World Championships where the last eight teams are all European teams.
  • The Final was the first World Cup Finals, where extra time had to be played.
  • Brazilian Waldemar de Brito is the first player to have missed a penalty (against Spain).
  • Italian player Angelo Schiavio scored the 100th World Cup goal in their first match against the USA (7-1).
  • The first rematch was played in this tournament: Italy – Spain (1-0).
  • The 1934 edition has a record-low average attendance per match: 23,235.
  • The tournament has the lowest attendance in World Cup history: 390,000.

egypt first time at world cup

Did You Know

  • Egypt, the first African team, would only qualify for their next tournament in 1990, coincidentally also hosted in Italy for the 2nd time.
  • The next time an African country qualified for a World Championships was in 1970.
  • Few players of the Italian team were of Italian descent but were born in Argentina, which was controversial then.
  • Few of these Italian descent players born in Argentina also played for the Argentinian team: Luis Monti, Enrique Guaita, and Raimundo Orsi.
Raimundo Orsi of Italy
Raimundo Orsi of Italy
  • Italian player Luis Monti played for Argentina in the 1930 World Cup.
  • Italian player Luis Monti is the only player to have played a World Cup Finals tournament for two different countries (Argentina 1930 and Italy 1934).
  • Only tournament where Brazil won 0 matches.
  • FIFA president Jules Rimet stated the 1934 World Cup didn’t belong to FIFA but to the Fascist party.
  • Aside from the Jules Rimet trophy, another trophy (6 times larger than the Jules Rimet trophy) was created and awarded after the Final, which has the name La Coppa
  • del Duce, named in honor of Mussolini.
  • For the first time, it was possible to follow the matches through live radio broadcasts in certain countries.
Oldřich Nejedlý
Oldřich Nejedlý

1934 World Cup FIFA Awards

Golden Ball: Giuseppe Meazza (Italy)
Silver Ball: Matthias Sindelar (Austria)
Bronze Ball: Oldřich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia)
Golden Boot: Oldřich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia) (5 goals)
Silver Boot: Edmund Conen (Germany), Angelo Schiavio (Italy) (4 goals)
Bronze Boot: Leopold Kielholz (Switzerland), Raimundo Orsi (Italy) (3 goals)

Argentina at 1934 World Cup
Argentina at 1934 World Cup

1934 FIFA All-Star Team

What is interesting about the World Cup 1934 FIFA All-Star Team is that player Luis Monti is included as an Italian player. However, in the 1930 FIFA All-Star Team, he is included as well, but as an Argentinian player.

Monti played in two World Cup Finals for different countries. He is the only player who has done this.

Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora
Ricardo Zamora

Goalkeeper

  • Ricardo Zamora (Spain)

Defenders

  • Jacinto Quincoces (Spain)
  • Eraldo Monzeglio (Italy)

Midfielders

  • Luis Monti (Italy)
  • Attilio Ferraris (Italy)
  • Leonardo Cilaurren (Spain)

Italian Guiseppe Meazza at 1934 World Cup

Forwards

  • Giuseppe Meazza (Italy)
  • Raimundo Orsi (Italy)
  • Enrique Guaita (Italy)
  • Matthias Sindelar (Austria)
  • Oldřich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia)