Italy 1934

The 1934 World Cup was a physical affair. (FIFA)
The 1934 World Cup was a physical affair. (FIFA)
Hosts: Italy
Champions: Italy
Runners Up: Czechoslovakia

The 1934 FIFA World Cup, or the World's Cup as it was known then, was the second football World Cup staged, and hosted by Italy from 27 May to 10 June. Italy was chosen as hosts by FIFA at the Stockholm congress of October 1932. It was the first World Cup for which teams would have to qualify in order to take part. 32 nations entered the competition, and after qualification, 16 teams participated in the finals tournament. Italy became the second World Cup champions, beating Czechoslovakia in the final, 2–1.

The group stage used in the first World Cup was discarded in favour of a straight knockout tournament. All eight first round matches kicked off at the same time. Hosts and favourites Italy won handsomely, defeating the USA 7–1; the New York Times correspondent wrote that "only the fine goal-tending of Julius Hjulian of Chicago kept the score as low as it was".

Internal disputes meant Argentina's squad for the tournament did not contain a single survivor from the team which reached the final in 1930. Against Sweden in Bologna, Argentina twice took the lead, but two goals by Sven Jonasson and a winner by Knut Kroon gave Sweden a 3–2 victory. Fellow South Americans Brazil also suffered an early exit. Spain beat them comfortably; 3–1 the final score.

Eight European teams—Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland—advanced to the quarter-finals.

In the quarter-finals, the first replayed match in World Cup history took place, after Italy and Spain drew 1-1 after extra time. The match was played in a highly aggressive manner. Rough play injured the Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora in the first match, leaving him unable to participate in the replay. Italy won the replay 1-0, their play so physical that at least three Spaniards had to depart the field with injuries. Italy then went on to beat Austria in the semifinals by the same score. Meanwhile, Czechoslovakia secured their place in the final by beating Germany 3-1.

The Stadium of the National Fascist Party was the venue for the final. With 70 minutes played, the Czechoslovakians were ahead 1-0. The Italians managed to score before the final whistle, and then added another goal in extra time to be crowned World Cup Winners.

Notable Facts
Reigning World Cup holders Uruguay declined to participate, in protest at the refusal of several European countries to travel to South America for the previous World Cup, which Uruguay hosted in 1930. As a result, the 1934 World Cup is the only one in which the reigning champions did not participate.

The Home Nations, in a period of self-imposed exile from FIFA, also refused to participate. Football Association committee member Charles Sutcliffe's view was typical of British attitudes: "The national associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have quite enough to do in their own International Championship which seems to me a far better World Championship than the one to be staged in Rome."

Golden Boot
Czechoslovakia’s Oldrich Nejedlý with 5 goals

French defender Jacques Mairesse blocks the shot of Austrian Anton Schall during the first round match of the 1934 World Cup. (AFP)
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