FIFA World Cup 1938

The third FIFA World Cup was held in France from 4 to 19 June. The fact that Europe hosted two World Cups in a row enraged South Americans, who had wanted the competition to be held on their continent any other year. Argentina and Uruguay boycotted the event as a result.


Following a qualification that involved 37 teams, a total of 16 teams competed (the host nation France and the reigning champions Italy was directly qualified). In 1938, European nations won the World Cup, with 13 of the 16 participants being European.

The most unusual team in the tournament was Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), which also made history as the first Asian team to compete in the World Cup. They had qualified when all other Asian teams had withdrawn.

Spain, which was in the midst of a civil war, was conspicuously silent, and the tumultuous political situation in Europe, which was on the verge of a major war, was palpable. Most directly because Austria was conquered by Nazi Germany just before the start of the competition, and Austria was thereby dissolved. It was also noticeable by an angry crowd in games involving Germany or Italy. The Italian players gave fascist salutes before games, and when they had to change to the away team jersey against France in the Quarter-finals, they wore black – the fascist colour – instead of white.


The game took the form of a knockout tournament. If the match is still tied after normal match time, a 30-minute extra time period will be played. If the match was still undecided after extra time, a replay will be scheduled for the next day (penalty shoot-out was not introduced until 1978).

Cities and arenas

The matches will be held in ten French cities and nine stadiums (for a full list, see the “Cities and Stadiums” box). However, no match was played in Lyon because one match was postponed. The match between Austria and Sweden was this. The final will be held at the 60,000-seater Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris.


On the sporting front, it may be seen that Brazil made a significant impact on World Cup football for the first time, and that their crowd-pleasing style helped them advance further in the competition.

The most surprising result was arguably Cuba’s win over Romania. Still, exhausted from a repeat match and played on a sticky pitch, Cuba refused to be surprised again in the quarterfinals, and were thrashed by Sweden..


In front of 45 124 spectators, the final was played between Italy and Hungary. Italy won the match after two goals each from Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola. As a result, Italy will retain their World Cup title and become the first country to win two World Cups. The third World Cup had to be postponed until 1950 due to the Second World War.

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