Sambafoot provides a retrospective of all World Cup editions as a warm-up for the 2022 World Cup. This week, we’ll discuss the third edition, which took place in 1938.
Following Uruguay’s supremacy in the 1920s, Italy rose to become the world’s most powerful football nation. This was shown in the 1938 World Cup, when the country’s national team won the tournament for the second time.
The Cup’s third edition, held in France, was the last one before the Second World War, which caused the tournament’s organization to be disrupted. Furthermore, despite the fact that a Brazilian player did not win the championship, he was successful with his goals and performances. Remember how the quarrel ended!
Tribute defines the headquarters of the Cup
Germany, Argentina, and France were the three nations who applied to host the third World Cup. The Germans’ purpose after staging the 1936 Olympics in Berlin was to once again utilize sport as propaganda for the Nazi dictatorship.
Argentina, on the other hand, anticipated a rotation between continents, given that the last one was held in Italy. The decision was ultimately made in favour of France, mostly to commemorate two FIFA officials, Jules Rimet and Henri Delaunay.
Uruguay and Argentina boycott the tournament
Argentina opted not to participate in the event due to France’s choice to host the third Global Cup, a boycott that has been joined by Uruguay, the first world champion. The only time the Caribbean nation was represented in the World Cup was by Brazil and Cuba.
Two more key teams were left out of the tournament: Spain, as a result of the country’s civil war, and England, who had issues with FIFA and did not see the Cup as a major event.
Participants concentrated in Europe
The reigning champion (Italy) received an automatic spot in 1938, which was followed until the 2002 World Cup. As a result, France and Italy did not have to play in order to qualify. Only three of the remaining spots were allocated to other continents, two to the Americas and one to Asia.
As a result, 13 of the 16 teams were from the Old Continent, the highest share in the tournament’s history. Because Austria were seized by Germany, just 15 people participated in the end. In the Cup, even several Austrian players defended the German national team.
Italy confirms favoritism and takes the championship
In a playoff format with a tiebreaker, the disagreement mechanism was the same as in 1934. Sweden progressed to the quarterfinals without having to play Austria. The games were all well-played, with five going to overtime and two being settled in a tiebreaker.
Germany, one of the favourites for the championship, were a huge letdown. They led 1-0 in the first game, but drew 1-1 with Switzerland in the second. It started 2-0 in the tiebreaker, and the coaching team even told Adolf Hitler that the Swiss would win, but they turned it around and triumphed 4-2. The schism between Germans and Austrians was cited as one of the grounds for the removal.
Italy, on the other hand, required extra time to defeat Norway, while Brazil, in a bizarre encounter, defeated Poland 6-5 thanks to Leonidas’ hattrick.By the way, one of the goals was scored barefoot because he was about to change his equipment, but he saw an opportunity and decided to forego putting on his boots.
Brazil vs Italy: the anticipated final
In the quarterfinals, Brazil needed the tiebreaker to advance against Czechoslovakia, which became known as the “Battle of Bordeaux”. In addition to the expulsions, players were even hospitalized. Both games were tiring and were reflected in the semifinals, when the Seleção faced Italy.
In a controversial decision, coach Ademar Pimenta decided to rest Leônidas. It is not known if it was overconfidence in the classification or due to injury. The fact is that Brazil did not play well and were pressured by the opponent, who opened 2-0 on the scoreboard. Romeu Pellicciari pulled a goal back, but the elimination was decided.
In the big decision, Italy beat Hungary 4-2, again with threats from Mussolini. The team captain was Giuseppe Meazza, which today takes its name from the stadium shared by Inter and Milan. In the third place game, Brazil beat Sweden by the same score, again with a show from Leônidas.
Leonidas finishes as top scorer and best player
Unlike prior years, the Brazilian National Team had all of the resources at their disposal in order to win their first global championship. Leonidas da Silva of Flamengo was the team’s star player. His moniker, “Black Diamond,” became the name of a chocolate company that still exists today.
Brazil’s World Cup campaign came to an end in the quarterfinals after a loss to winners Italy, but Leônidas was the tournament’s standout player. He ended as the leading scorer with seven goals and was even awarded the best player. Many people blame his absence from the semi-final for the dismal outcome.
First World Cup broadcast by radio to Brazil
The 1938 World Cup was the first to be aired live on radio in Brazil, which was a significant milestone. The games were broadcast to the whole population of Minas Gerais by Rádio Inconfidência, which was formed in 1936.
Despite the fact that the campaign did not have a joyful ending for Brazilians, it was well received. After an early exit in Italy, the squad showed resiliency and had a taste of what it may have been like to win the tournament.
1938 World Cup was the last one before World War II
Finally, the 1938 Cup was the last one before World War II broke out, therefore halting the competition until 1950. Having previously won the previous edition at home, Italy were able to retain their championship for a total of 16 years.
According to folklore, Italian FIFA official Ottorino Barassi concealed the 1938 cup in a shoebox in his bedroom during the war to avoid theft. A more plausible scenario is that it remained at the Vatican, where it was looked after by the legendary Pontifical Swiss Guard.