Sunday, September 25, 2011


Switzerland was not greatly affected by the war. Its economy was intact, and the Swiss had a good stadiums that could be enlarged. It had played 2 good games in the Cup, once in 1938 against Germany, and in 1950 against Brazil.

It had all the necessary credential to be chosen by FIFA to hold the Fifth World Cup.

There were 37 contries participating. FIFA accepted Paraguay's late registration, but the late registration from Inda, Peru, Vietnam, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Iceland were not accepted. There were 38 countries which would play in qualifying matches. Argentina did not participate again, the USSR also unknown.

Egypt, Japan, Korea, and China would be a newcomers this time.

The organizing committee was presided by the president, Thommen(Switzerland), and consisted of Bergerus(Sweden), Rous(England), Delaunay(France), Barassi and Mauro(Italy), Lotsy(Holland), Villizio(Uruguay), and Wiederkehr and Gasmann(Switzerland). They decided the following groups (1)Germany, Saar, Norway, 1 qualifier; (2)Belgium, Sweden, Finland, 1 qualifier; (3)England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, 2 qualifier; (4)France, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg, 1 qualifier; (5)Austria, Portugal, 1 qualifier; (6)Spain, Turkey, 1 qualifier; (7)Hungary, Poland,1 qualifier; (8)Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, 1 qualifier; (9)Italy, Egypt, 1 qualifier; (10)Yugoslavia, Israel, Greece, 1 qualifier; (11)Mexico, Haiti, United States, 1 qualifier; (12)Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, 1 qualifier; (13)Korea, Japan, China, 1 qualifier.

The distribution of the qualifying matches was criticized on the grounds that the strong team would not reach the finals, whereas the weaker ones would. In spite of this criticism, the qualifying matches for World Cup took place from May, 1953 to April, 1954 

Spain was eliminated by Turkey, and Sweden by Belgium. The Spaniards and the Swedes had made it to the finals of 1950. Spain's elimination was pathetic. It had scored a victory in Madrid, 4-1, a defeat in Istanbul, 1-0, and a tie in Rome, 2-2. It did not play Stockholm and in Brussels. Switzerland and Uruguay, started to emerge. They were Turkey, Belgium, and Germany(after difficult games against Saar and Norway), England and Scotland, France and Austria(Scored 9 goals against Portugal in Vietnam), Hungary(Poland forfeited), Czechoslovakia, Italy, Yugoslavia, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea. There were 12 national teams from Europe, 3 from the Americas, and 1 Asia.

The 1950 World Cup has been criticized because organizing committee decided to choose two top seeds in each group for the first Pool round. The top seeds in the following round, the Quarterfinals, there was be a simple playoff. This qualifying system was never used again, just as the method used in Brazil in 1950, criticized by the Europeans, was also abandoned.

Under this system, Brazil, Uruguay, Hungary, England, Italy, Austria, France and Turkey were the top seeds. This meant that in Group 1 with Brazil, France, Mexico, and Yugoslavia, Brazil and France would not play each other, and in Group 2 with Hungary, South Korea, Turkey, and Germany, Hungary and Turkey would not play each. Hence, there would be only 4 games per group - a crazy system. 3 of the top seeds got no further than this first round; they were France, Italy, and Turkey.

Another drawback of this system was that 26 games had to be played in 19 days. Even with this additional challenge, the Hungarians were the runaway favorites. They had been the Olympic Winners at the 1952 games in Helsinki and had played the last 28 international matches without suffering a single defeat. And then there was the thrilling game against the English at Wembley, on November 25, 1953, which had ended 6-3. The stars Hungarians were Puskas, Czibor, Hidegutti, Boszis, Kocsis, and many more. They eliminated Brazil in a Difficult game on June 27, in Bern, 4-2.

They played against Uruguay in Lausanne, 2-2 and after the overtime, 4-2. And in the Final, they were winning against Germany 2-0, but the Germans, who wouldn't give up, eventually won 3-2. It was the most surprising final score, considering that during the first Pool round, the Hungarians had beaten the Germans 8-3. So for Hungary, just as for Brazil in 1950, the dream would remain a dream. Although the German coach Sepp Herberger had changed teams to save his best players for the final, as allowed by rule, even today no one can explain what happened. The Hungarians had ten minutes of fantastic play, taking 2-0 lead. The Germans were undaunted and continued to give it their all, tying game 2-2 by the end of the 1st half. In the 2nd half with only six minutes left, Rahn, the German center forward, scored a goal which became "the surprise of the century," and without Hitler!

The 1954 World Cup was a tournament of goal, racking up an amazing 140, averaging 5.36 per game. The Hungarian Kocsis was its top scorer with 11 goals. 943,000 people watched the games, averaging 37,200 per match. One of the games still holds the record today for the most goals scored in the World Cup, Austria 7 vs Switzerland 5!

Jules Rimet, now at the end of his career, made a point of coming down from his box to give the trophy to Fritz Walter, the German captain. And, as in 1950, one wonders if the president of FIFA would have preferred to be giving it to the losing team/s captain, Ferenk Puskas. Soccer, soccer, the things that happen.

It is important to remember that 2 years after World Cup, the Hungarian revolution broke out and all the great players left their country. Puskas went to  play for Real Madrid, Kocsis and Czibor went to Barcelona, and Hidegkuti to Germany, where each continued with his brilliant career.

It should be mentioned that, after the World Cup, and for no known reason, many of the German players went into rest homes, claiming physical problems. It has been widely speculated that drugs may have been the cause. Nothing has ever been proven, but...

PARTICIPATING TEAM: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, South Korea, Scotland, Egypt, Eire, Spain, United States, Finland, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, England, Northern Ireland, Israel, Italy, Yugoslavia, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Norway, Wales, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saar, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, and Uruguay.

Peru and China were registered but did not take part in the competition.