From June 17 to July 17, the 15th World Cup was held in the United States. The FIFA World Cup final was followed by a qualifying stage in which 147 national teams competed. The United States, as the host team, and Germany, as the defending champions, will be among the 24 that would advance to the World Cup final tournament. For the first time, Greece, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia had qualified for the tournament.
Since the 1990 World Cup created the lowest goals per match statistic in the tournament’s history, FIFA made several improvements in the 1994 World Cup with the intention of making the game more offensive. If the ball had came from a friend, the goalkeeper would no longer be able to pick it up with his mouth. Another rule reform was that if a player fouled another player with the ball when only the goalkeeper stood between him and the goal, the player would get a red card. A third rule change was that after a draw, a team received three points instead of two.
Referees were also told to be tougher on fouls, and line referees were told to just blow on offside when they were certain (a somewhat strange criterion). Aside from the revised rules, referees will no longer be required to wear standard black shirts.
The rule changes achieve their objectives in light of the fact that the 1994 World Cup was characterised by an offensive game (this was relatively speaking, the goals per match were actually not much higher than in 1990).
The same set-up as in the previous World Cup tournament was used. The teams were grouped into six four-team groups, with the top two teams in each pool, as well as four third-place teams, progressing to the knockout stage.
Cities and arenas
The 1994 World Cup was held in nine cities around the globe, with the same number of stadiums. Some games will be played indoors for the first time, in the Pontiac Silverdome.
Sweden and Bulgaria were the tournament’s two major surprises. Sweden, boosted by players like Tomas Brolin and Martin Dahlin, was on the verge of reaching their second World Cup final, while Bulgaria, led by Barcelona’s Hristo Stoichkov, was on the verge of reaching their first. Instead, the teams will play for third place in a draw.
Brazilian stars will once again win the World Cup trophy, and striker Romário was undoubtedly the main reason for that. The last game, on the other hand, was an indication of how tentative and cautious a final in a major football competition can be.
Two incidents that took place off the field cast a pall on the sports facets. The first was Diego Maradona, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament after testing positive for ephedrine, a banned weight-loss drug. Maradona had re-entered the Argentinian national team and had dropped 20 pounds in a brief period of time. He shone on the pitch against Greece, but Argentina had to make do without him in the remaining matches (his replacement Ortega, who had a similar playing style to Maradona, scored a goal instead).
The second incident that cast a pall over the tournament was the brutal assassination of Colombian defender Andrés Escobar, who was assassinated after scoring an unfortunate own goal against the United States.
Brazil would beat Italy in the final, and the match would end in a draw after regular and extra time for the first time in World Cup history. As a result, the match will be determined by a penalty shootout, which Brazil would win after Italy’s third shot was missing.