In 1966, England hosted the eighth World Cup, which took place from July 11 to July 30. A total of 70 national teams qualified for the final tournament (Africa was boycotting the tournament due to a new rule that forced the winners from the continent to partake in a play-off against Asian teams). Along with the previously qualified host nation England and the defending champions Brazil, 14 teams qualify for the final phase of the World Cup.
In 1960, it was decided that the nation where association football was born would soon host the game’s most prestigious competition.
On the other hand, the Third World was also not considered deserving of complete participation of the best sport on the planet. While a greater number of African countries had joined FIFA, the Confederation of African Football was not given a guaranteed place in the final tournament this time. Both African teams will boycott the game as a result of the treatment.
As a result, qualifying in the Africa, Asia, and Oceania region has been limited to only two teams: Australia and North Korea. For the first time, the latter will advance to the final level.
The colourful images from the 1966 World Cup in England (some of which can be seen below) were inserted after the fact; the tv viewers in 1966 had to see the games in black and white. In the other side, they were able to watch slow-motion replays of live matches for the first time.
Another first was FIFA’s implementation of drug testing in a World Cup for the first time.
The format was the same as the previous World Cup, with a group stage (each group containing four teams) followed by an eight-team knockout stage.
Cities and arenas
The tournament was held in seven different cities, including two in London. The final was held at Wembley Stadium, which had a capacity of over 100,000 at the time. The overall total attendance (48,847) will break the previous record (47,511) set at the 1950 World Cup..
In the first match against Uruguay, England didn’t seem like a championship contender (the first ever World Cup match played in floodlights). Despite a grim first impression and some inconsistent results as the competition progressed, the home nation realised their dream by securing their first World Cup trophy. Gordon Banks, Bobby Charlton, and Geoff Hurst were among the English team’s big names.
In a historic match, England beat West Germany in extra time in the final. Geoff Hurst’s shot struck the crossbar and bounced back to the goal line, resulting in one of the most contentious goals in World Cup history. The referee ruled it over the goal line, but the question of whether the ball crossed it or not will be debated for decades. Later, an exhaustive article by Ian Reid and Andrew Zisserman concluded that the ball was never across the line thanks to advanced technology.
Eusébio, a Portuguese player, was arguably the best performer in the game. Portugal finished third after losing in the semi-finals to England and then defeating the Soviet Union in the third-place match.
Similarly to the recent World Cup, certain matches will have a high level of unsportsmanship. Uruguay vs. West Germany became a scandalous match when a Uruguayan player was sent off and argued with the police.
Brazil, who had won the previous two championships, had a poor showing and was already eliminated in the group stage, with Pelé half wounded. It was a shame that opponents could use unfair tackles to neutralise Pelé’s talents (and it was excuse enough for Pelé to resign from international football, before he changed his mind two years later).
Italy made a far bigger blunder than Brazil, which was already doomed after a crushing defeat to North Korea. This was their final match in the group, and they were unable to advance. As North Korea took a three-goal lead against Portugal in the quarter-finals, they were on the verge of creating another phenomenon. Their Portuguese rivals, on the other hand, will restore order in the world of football by scoring five goals in a row.
Argentina, Portugal, North Korea, West Germany, Uruguay, the Soviet Union, and Hungary will advance from the group stage to the knockout stage.
England, Portugal, West Germany, and the Soviet Union all won their quarter-final matches. In the semi-finals, England and West Germany emerged victorious. In the final, England will defeat West Germany in a thrilling and memorable match that needed extra time to decide the winner. Geoff Hurst scored three of his team’s four goals, making him the first player in a World Cup final to score three goals.