Wednesday, November 23, 2011


England adds its name to the list of winners, but not everyone is convinced
Brazil, without a team, a failure.
Portugal, a novelty.
Korea, a surprise.
Fights and bad officiating.
Germany still laments at the finals.

The most controversial incident of the 1966 Cup: Rattin is kicked out during the England-Argentina game and doesn't play.

70 countries registered with FIFA for the 8th World Cup. On January 30, 1964, the groups for the qualifying matches were decided in Zurich, site of FIFA's former headquarters. Brazil, the 1962 winner, and England, the host country, have guaranteed berths, but there remain 14 places in the finals for the national teams from 5 continents to contend for.

Europe had 4 berths, South Africa 4, Central and North America, Africa, Asia, and Australia 1. The first problem arose when Africa withdrew, arguing that there should be a berth just for Africa. Most people agreed.

The greatest surprise in the European qualifying matches was Portugal's success, which meant that for the first time in their history they would compete in the finals. In their group was Chile, third in the 1962 finals, and Czechoslovakia, the runners-up in 1962. Later in England, the Portuguese would show that their qualification was not by chance.

The Portuguese played soccer well-that was for sure. They beat the Czechs 1-0 in Bratislava with a goal by their star Eusebio, and guaranteed their qualification in the return game in Oporto with a 0-0 tie.

There were no surprise in South America. Argentina and Uruguay classified with no problem. Chile filled the other berth. Mexico won its group. North Korea was the surprise in the Asian group. These, plus Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, and the USSR, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and of course Brazil, England, and Portugal, were 16 national teams who play in the World Cup.

On January 6, 1966, at the Royal Garden Hotel, in London, FIFA determined the following groups (1) Uruguay, France, England, Mexico in London and Wembley; (2) Argentina, Spain, W.Germany,Switzerland in Sheffield and Birmingham; (3) Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria in Liverpool and Manchester; (4) Chile, Italy, USSR, N.Korea in Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

The English insisted on choosing stadium with a capacity greater than 50,000 spectators, but using the existing facilities. They wanted this Cup to be the greatest success of all time. But it didn't quite turn out the way. Once again, Brazil was in what turned out to be the strongest in the Cup, group 3. Portugal would show their quick soccer and great goal scoring, the "Hungarian school" would reappear rejuvenated, and the Bulgarians would command respect with their energetic soccer. It seemed a cinch that England would be named a top seed, and Italy as well, but that wasn't the case, not quite. Korea gave the Cup its most surprising result, eliminating Italy. And England's first game was a scoreless and unconvincing tussle with Uruguay.

On July 11, 1966, the Cup opened at Wembley Stadium before the Queen of England and 100,000 spectators. England played Uruguay, but the game was disappointing 0-0 tie. Uruguay played entirely defensively and England was unimaginative offensively; the result was stalemate. A total letdown, This game was an example of the soccer to come. The English team was a booed and half the team went to the locker room without greeting the Queen.

Brazil's first was against Bulgaria, in Liverpool, on July 12, before 48,000 spectators and with a German officiating. The Bulgarians were incredibly violent, and this put a creative damper on the game. Brazil won with 2 goals from free kicks resulting from 2 of the many Bulgarian fouls. Pele scored the first, with what would turn out to be his last goal in the 1966 Cup, Garrincha scoring second. On the next day, in the same stadium, Portugal started to show its strenght, winning against Hungary, 3-1. On July 15, Hungary bounced back, playing against Brazil and winning 3-1 before 57,000 spectators at Everton's stadium in Liverpool. It was Brazil's first defeat in World Cup since 1954. True, Pele did not play, being spared for a later game, but Hungary just played better on the day. Portugal had an easy 3-0 win over Bulgaria, and on July 19, befoer a crowd of 62,000 spectators, they also beat Brazil easily 3-1, eliminating the 2 time winners. This time Pele played, but the Portuguese visctory was fair and just. It was a poor performance for Brazilian soccer, even with such players as Gerson, Tostao, Jairzinho, and Pele, who, 4 years later, would be the great stars of winning Brazilian team in Mexico.

There had been a great deal of confusion before the finals, and Brazil had not been able to decide on a team. The kind of organization and planning that had worked in 1958 and 1962 was not put to use.

England won 2-0 against both France and Mexico, with the tie in their fist game against Uruguay, then went on to the next round. Uruguay tied with Mexico, won agains France, and ended up in 2nd place. In groud 2 Germany and Argentina qualified, and Spain and Switzerland were eliminated. In group 3, both Portugal and hungary went on to the next round. In group 4, N.Korea was the surprise. They tied 1-1 with Chile, won against Italy 1-0, and lost to the USSR 3-0. N.Korea qualified in second place behind the USSR. Italy and Chile said good-bye to the Cup.