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World Cup – Italy 1934

The Italian team make the fascist salute

ITALY 1934 - An Overview

Welcome to our second (of 20) series on the history of the World Cup.

Today we take a look at the 1934 World Cup that was hosted by Italy and was the first World Cup to include a qualification stage.

Sixteen teams qualified for the tournament, a number which would be retained until the expansion of the finals tournament in 1982.

The Italian team make the fascist salute

Despite their role as hosts, Italy were still required to qualify, the first and only time the host nation was not granted automatic qualification

Uruguay, the champions from 1930, still upset about the poor European attendance at their World Cup four years earlier, boycotted the event. As a result, the 1934 World Cup is the only one in which the reigning champions did not participate.

Bolivia and Paraguay were also absent, allowing Argentina and Brazil to progress to the finals without having to play any qualifying matches.

The British Home Nations, in a period of self-imposed exile from FIFA, also refused to participate, even though FIFA had offered England and Scotland direct entry to the tournament without qualification. Football Association committee member Charles Sutcliffe called the tournament “a joke.”

Egypt became the first African team to compete, but lost to Hungary in the first round.

Italy became the second World Cup champions and the first European team to win, beating Czechoslovakia 2–1 in the final.

For the only time in World Cup history, the last eight consisted entirely of European teams -Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

All four non-European teams who made the journey to Italy were eliminated after just one match.

In the quarter-finals, the first replayed match in World Cup history took place, when Italy and Spain drew 1–1 after extra time. Italy won the replay 1–0, their play so physical that at least three Spaniards had to depart the field with injuries.


WC 1934 flag
Host country: Italy
Dates: May 27 – June 10 (15 days)
Teams: 16 (from 4 confederations)
Venues: 8
Champions: Italy
Runners-up Czechoslovakia
Third place: Germany
Fourth place: Austria
Matches played: 17
Goals scored: 70 (4.1/game)
Attendance: 363,000 (21,350/game)
Top scorer: Oldřich Nejedlý CZE (5 goals)
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THE FINAL - Italy 2 Czechoslovakia 1 (aet)

The 1934 FIFA World Cup Final took place on June 10 at the Stadio PNF in Rome and saw hosts Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 after extra time in high temperatures of around 40 °C (104 °F).

Mussolini himself appearing in full uniform

At the time, Italy was a country deep in patriotic fervour. The showpiece was a great opportunity for the ruling fascist party, with Mussolini himself appearing in full uniform.

All Italian players were required, as had become customary, to make the fascist salute before kick-off.

It surprised many to see Swedish referee Ivan Ekland do so too, leading to speculation as to what influence Mussolini (R) had over the referee. Mussolini was said to have personally selected referees for his country’s games

The match itself remained goalless until 19 minutes from time when Czechoslovakia opened the scoring through Antonin Puc.

The lead only lasted for 10 minutes, as Italy drew level through striker Raimundo Orsi.

There were no more goals meaning the match went into extra time – the first World Cup final to do so.

The teams had been evenly matched over the 90 minutes, but Italy scored what proved to be the winner after seven minutes of extra time, with a goal from Angelo Schiavio.

For central defender Luis Monti who added a winner’s medal to the runners-up award with Argentina four years earlier, there was the distinction of becoming the first man to win successive World Cup titles with different countries.

All three podium finishers – Italy, Czechoslovakia and third-placed Germany – attended the trophy presentation which was presided over by a jubilant Mussolini.

Aside from the Jules Rimet trophy, Mussolini presented his own Coppa del Duce – a massive trophy he had commissioned that dwarfed FIFA’s award.


Round 1: United States 7-1
Quarter-final Spain 1-1 (R1-0)
Semi-final Austria 1-0
Round 1: Romania 1-0
Quarter-final Switzerland 3-2
Semi-final Germany 3-1
Vittorio Pozzo, Italy's coach celebrates with his players after defeating Czechoslovakia in the final

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