Friday, August 5, 2011


Italy, a cup with political "smell" to it. The Azzuri win the delight of Mussolini. Brazil, a second rate team again. Spain vs Italy, the "battle of the cup. Austria beautiful soccer. The Uruguayans did not want to participate.

It cannot be denied that the 1934 World Cup in Italy was political. In 1929, even before the close of the 1930 Cup, the Italians petitioned to hold the next Cup and planned to win it. 

Benito Mussolini was in power, Fascism was spreading, and "il Duce" wanted to show off his New Italy. General Giorgio Vaccaro was told by Mussolini to obtain the rights to the cup at any cost. Doing everything in his power, he finally succeeded after the eighth FIFA congress. It was not until 1932 that FIFA decided on Italy, and they would have to pay all the expenses. General Vaccaro had chosen the journalist Vitorio Pozzo to organize a plan that would win the title for the country. The format for the world cup was established in 1931. There would be 16 national teams chosen by qualifying matches throughout the world.

32 National teams registered for qualifying matches. There were only 29 left after Peru, Chile and Turkey did not confirm their registration. England did not take part and it was a very regrettable "forfeit". Uruguayans would also not participate. The Uruguay was no longer as strong as in 1924, 1928 and 1930, their soccer was in crisis. Argentina was also having difficulties.

In the 1930 Cup had been a South American events, the 1934 World Cup was a European event. 

Italy's main obstacle to winning the title would be Austria and Spain. The Cup began on may 27 in 8 stadiums: Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples and Trieste. There were 8 top seeds with simple elimination the format, a change from the first Cup. In Rome, the Italians finished off the U.S 7-1. In Genoa, Spain brought an end to the Brazilian dream, Scoring 3-0 during the 1st half and another goal in 2nd half. In Naples, there was a difficult 1st half for Hungary 2-2 playing against Egypt, but Hungarians won 4-2. In Trieste, Czechoslovakia won against the Romania 2-1, thanks to the great goalie Planicka. Switzerland played well against the Holland in Milan, 3-2. The Germans won against the Belgian 5-2 in Florence. In Bologna, Argentina lost to Sweden 3-2, with many of its "stars" absent.

Only European teams were to be in quarterfinals. Italy, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden.  In this round Austria fought a real battle against Hungary 2-1, in Bologna. The German beat the Swedes in Milan. The Swiss gave Czechoslovakia a hard time, but they were eventually eliminated 3-2. But the game that went down to history was played in Florence, where Italy met Spain. It was 2 hours of spectacular soccer, on a scorching day, in a sold-out stadium. The goalkeepers Zamora for Spain and Combi for Italy, were true heroes. Spain scored 1-0 in 1st half, thanks to Regueiro. In the 2nd half, the game was tied a goal by Ferrari from Italy. The match went overtime, but there were no more goals. It was 2 hours of intense playing, with injuries on both sides. In the 2nd game 24 hours later, seven of Spain's players did not play, including the goalie and the captain Zamora. Italy won the 2nd game 1-0, with a goal by Meazza.

Italy's next game played against Austria, was also a test of fire. It had rained a great deal on June e, 1934. The Italians were still tired from 3 games in one week, and 210 minutes of soccer against Spain (a World Cup record). Austria did not play their highest standards on this heavy pitch and wound up losing 1-0 goal again by Meazza. Italy was closing in on the title.

Mussolini, who had attended all of Italy's games, was in Rome on June 10, 1934 for the final and the confidently anticipated victory. Italians played against Czechoslovakia. All the government ministers were there. It looked like a political rally with people shouting for Italy and "il Duce". Here a fascist government needed the victory and the prestige it would bring. It was a very nerve-wrecking game. The 1st half was rough, almost brutal, and ended 0-0. At the 25minute mark, a corner was shot by Puc and the score was 1-0 to Czechoslovakia. There were utter silence in the Rome stadium, all eye on the clock. It was now at the 40-minute mark. The Argentine-Italian Guita made a perfect pass to the Argentine-Italian Orsi. He went into the area and shot, Italy had tied. There was overtime. Could Italy improve?

In overtime, even though Meazza was injured, Schario was able to score and thereby give Italy the World Cup championship. The Italians had deserved the title. They had played 3 difficult games and had overcome all the obstacle. The physical preparation and courage asked of them alone made them deserving of the title. It was regrettable that the Cup was used as propaganda for Benito Mussolini and his government. The Cup was success in terms of the number of spectator and revenues. The political overtones had made the cup far from what Rimet had dreamed of. Combi accepted the Cup and celebrated with his team mates and Pozzo, their coach. At the same time, the Blackshirts gave a huge bronze trophy to the winning players. This was the 1934 World Cup.  

Participating teams: 32  Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, Ireland, Spain, United States, Estonia, France, Greece, Haiti, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Palestine, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey  (Turkey withdrew from the competition).

Italy, 1934 World Cup winner and host
Golie: (Italy)Combi and Planicka(Czech) 
Leonidas (Brazil)
Italy's goal against Czechoslovakia in finals


Anonymous said...

Very interesting and informative