Why didn't Asian teams participate in the 1950 World Cup?

Why didn't Asian teams participate in the 1950 World Cup?

The Fourth World Cup was held in Brazil in 1950. It has the distinction of being the first World Cup held after a 12-year hiatus for World War II.

It also has the distinction of being the only World Cup India ever qualified for, due to all the other teams in their region dropping out during qualification. However, India also ended up having to drop out after qualification, and never played a game.

Why did so many teams from one region drop out? Was it a financial issue? Were they protesting something?


Only four Asian teams - Burma, India, Indonesia and the Philippines - entered the 1950 World Cup qualification rounds and these were placed in Group 10 with the top team qualifying for the finals in Brazil.

According to the article India and the 1950 FIFA World Cup: "What If… ", the reason that Burma, the Philippines and Indonesia withdrew was that

… they found the long trip to Brazil economically unfeasible.

However, there were probably other factors involved, at least in some cases (on which more below). After these three countries withdrew, only India were left in the group; they therefore qualified without playing a game. India's withdrawal was most likely for a combination of reasons: officially, it was due to a lack of preparation time. However, as the decision was taken behind closed doors, we may never know for sure.


THE WITHDRAWAL OF BURMA, THE PHILIPPINES AND INDONESIA

From sources, there isn't much to go on other than financial costs, which was also the reason for Turkey's withdrawal. However, some possible additional reasons can be deduced, not least the fear that they would seriously outclassed.

Burma had only played their first ever international match in February 1950 and had lost 5-2 to not-so-mighty Hong Kong.

Indonesia may also have felt the same way, probably correctly as they were brushed aside by India in the 1951 Asian Games. Also, in 1938, playing as the Dutch East Indies, they had flown all the way to France only to play one game in which they were thumped 6-0 by Hungary. Interestingly, Indonesia were invited despite not being affiliated to FIFA at the time.

Philippine football appears to have been a shambles in 1950, even more so than usual. It lacked “funding and support from the media” and the Philippine domestic championship had not even been held since 1936. The Philippines also didn't manage to compete in football at the 1951 Asian Games, unlike Indonesia, India and Burma (though they did perform credibly in other sports). This was quite a fall for a country whose team had once beaten Japan 15-2 (in Japan, 1917).


INDIA'S WITHDRAWAL

The reasons for India's withdrawal are more complicated and are still disputed to some extent. The Press Trust of India press release on the 23rd of May 1950, quoted here, said:

India will not participate in the World Cup. Due to late information reaching India, the team will have to be flown to Rio resulting in cancellation of team selection meetings. Since there is not much time, the Indian team will not be able to prepare and hence it will not be correct to send the team.

This press release came one day after the draw for the groups in Brazil had been announced, in which India had been put in Group 3 along with Sweden, Italy and Paraguay. Various additional reasons, though, have been given for India's non-participation.

One was the fear of being humiliated, but this theory is not entirely convincing. Although India (36) were the lowest ranked team in their group, they were not the lowest ranked in the tournament (the US at 40 and Bolivia at 63 were lower). Sweden would have been a handful but the Italian team had been weakened by the 1949 Superga air disaster and a draw against Paraguay would not have been beyond the Indian team's capabilities. Further, India had performed credibly at the 1948 London Olympics, missing two penalties in losing 2-1 to France. On the other hand, the fact that Indians were used to 70 minute matches instead of the usual 90 minutes may have caused some concern about their fitness levels in Brazil; the press release's citing of lack of time to prepare may be related to this.

Another reason cited was FIFA's insistence on football boots. Indian players often played without boots and the FIFA rule has been cited as a reason for India withdrawing. However, according to Indiatimes.com “Nowhere in any of the discussions at the time was the barefoot issue.” Again, though, the 'not be able to prepare' mentioned in the press release may allude to this: perhaps the All India Football Federation felt the players would need more time to adjust to playing with boots.

The cost of going to Brazil has also been put forward, but this ignores the fact that the organizers had offered to pay most of the Indian teams' expenses - and the press release did not mention this.

The Indian Football Team at London Olympics, 1948. Note the players without boots.

All of the above may have contributed to India's withdrawal, but a bigger reason may simply have been the All India Football Federation's failure to appreciate the importance at the time of the World Cup. It seems that everyone was much more focused on the next Olympics, as indicated by Indian captain Sailen Manna's statement:

We had no idea about the World Cup then. Had we been better informed, we would have taken the initiative ourselves. For us, the Olympics was everything. There was nothing bigger.

In short, it was probably a combination of factors with the last cited possibly being the main one. It should also be noted that the FIFA World Cup in 1950 had nothing like the reach and global pull that it has now. Many teams refused to compete for various reasons, including the entire Soviet bloc, Argentina, Portugal and France. Scotland qualified but the Chief Executive of the Scottish FA refused to let the team go as they hadn't won the British Championship, having been beaten by England. Chief Executive George Graham turned a deaf ear to fans and the Scotland players, and even the England captain tried to persuade him, but it was all to no avail.


OTHER ASIAN COUNTRIES

As to why other Asian teams did not enter, covering them all would be a major task, but Japan (along with Germany) were banned from participating due to their 'role' in WWII while Korea and China were probably too concerned with domestic issues (civil war) to have even noticed the World Cup. Thailand had joined FIFA in 1925 but does appear to have had a Football Association President between 1938 and 1953. South Vietnam did not even join FIFA until 1952, and the North not until 1964. Most other Asian countries had little in the way of football tradition or domestic competition.


Other sources:

Paul Dimeo, James Mills (eds), Soccer in South Asia: Empire, Nation, Diaspora

From the Cup Archives

Book busts myth about India's withdrawal from 1950 World Cup


The excuse given was apparently that FIFA had instituted a rule prohibiting players from playing barefoot But the real reasons, according to Saileen Manna, seem to be that financing both the World Cup and the Olympics was budget-breaking, and emphasis was given to the Olympics by choice.

From History of the All India Football Federation

In 1950, India automatically qualified for the World Cup to be held in Brazil that year. In the preliminaries, they were clubbed with Burma and Philippines, both of whom withdrew. However, India could not compete in the 1950 World Cup final round, as the AIFF lacked sufficient funds to bear the expenses of the passage. There were also apprehensions that the mainly barefooted Indian team would get routed in the World Cup.


Japan, Qatar and the history of guest teams at the Copa América

T he 46th edition of the Copa América, the oldest tournament in international football, begins on Friday night when hosts Brazil take on Bolivia in São Paulo. Eagle-eyed observes may have noted that two countries have travelled a long way for this year’s tournament. Qatar and Japan, by coincidence the winners and runners-up in the Asian Cup held earlier this year, will both be in Brazil to compete for another piece of silverware.

Initial plans for the 2019 tournament involved six guest teams – to make a more mathematically pleasing field of 16 – but a lack of willing participants soon put paid to that idea. There was speculation about invites for Spain and Portugal but, given their involvement in the Nations League finals and Euro 2020 qualifiers, that was never a serious proposition. With the schedules of the Gold Cup and Africa Cup of Nations also clashing, Asia was the only place to go for guests. Bringing in six guest teams from Asia was never realistic, so the grandiose plans for expansion were shelved. Japan and Qatar would have to do.

The other continental tournaments do not bring in guest teams, but it is now the norm for the Copa América. There are only 10 members in Conmebol, the South American football federation, so they have welcomed two guests since the 1993 tournament onwards. The format improved but at a price: the tournament lost integrity and there was not the risk – as yet unfulfilled – that South America’s champions would come from another continent.

The guests are generally only expected to pad out the schedule, bring along their TV money and viewing figures, then make a swift exit before the real action begins in the later rounds. Most guests have followed that script but, on occasion, some have had a tilt at glory.

Mexico took part in 10 straight tournaments from 1993 until the Copa América Centenario in 2016. Not only are they the most obvious fit geographically, but they have generally been well equipped to face the giants of South America. That much was clear from the start. Even though they did not win any of their group games in their first Copa América in 1993, they somehow managed to scrape into the knockout rounds. After seeing off Peru in the quarter-finals and hosts Ecuador in the semi-finals, they lined up against Argentina in the final. With the pride of the whole continent on the line, Gabriel Batistuta came to rescue, scoring two goals in a 2-1 win for Argentina – still their most recent Copa América triumph.

Mexico were runners-up again in 2001 – losing to hosts Colombia in that final – and they have also finished third on three occasions. However, in recent years, a schedule clash between the Copa América and Gold Cup left Mexico attempting to compete on two fronts, with two separate squads. The Gold Cup has taken priority again this year and, for the first time since their initial invite in 1993, Mexico are skipping the Copa América completely.

Chicharito in action for Mexico against Jamaica at the Copa América Centenario in 2016. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

USA also made their debut in 1993, taking the opportunity to test themselves in a competitive environment before they hosted the World Cup the following summer. They didn’t win a single game in 1993, but came back stronger two years later and reached the quarter-finals, where they faced their great rivals Mexico.

A tense, tetchy match ended goalless, with USA ultimately prevailing 4-1 on penalties. Football fans in Uruguay were clearly unimpressed by this Concacaf incursion into their event – a mere 6,500 spectators turned up for the quarter-final. USA were narrowly beaten by Brazil in the semi-finals and were then thumped 4-1 by Colombia in the third-place playoff – a game that featured a goal scored by Faustino Asprilla and set up by René Higuita.

USA have been invited to every subsequent tournament but clashes with the increasingly important MLS schedule meant the invitation wasn’t accepted again until 2007. A weak USA squad were beaten in all three of their group matches, exposing the uncomfortable truth about guest participants. These sides often see the tournament as a series of glorified friendlies, a chance to test out fringe players, or a way of gaining experience for World Cup qualifiers or their own confederation’s tournament. The USA haven’t played in a regular Copa América since 2007, although they did host the the Centenario edition in 2016 – an expanded tournament with several Concacaf countries.

A third Concacaf nation, Costa Rica, made the first of their guest appearances in 1997 to little acclaim, with Jamaica doing likewise in 2015. The horizons were expanded in a different direction in 1999 when Japan joined the party, becoming the first non-American team to participate. They finished last in their group in a tournament that suffered from weakened squads across the board – a fact highlighted by Uruguay sending a squad packed with youth players (who still made the final).

Canada were meant to make their Copa América debut in 2001 but security concerns in host country Colombia meant the tournament was cancelled a fortnight before the scheduled kick-off. The Canadians duly abandoned their training camp and sent players back to their clubs. Five days later the tournament was reinstated, but it was too late for Canada – their one opportunity to take part in the Copa América disappeared before the tournament had even begun. Honduras stepped in at the last minute and, despite their lack of preparation, made it to the semi-finals, knocking out Brazil along the way.

USA fans cheer on their team at the Copa América Centenario in 2016. Photograph: Shutterstock

The Copa América is usually held at the start of a cycle for South American teams. Coming the summer after the World Cup, it is their first competitive action for a year – or even as long as 18 months for the less successful teams. The tournament is usually followed by the start of the World Cup qualifying marathon, so teams are often at the beginning of their development. This has led to weakened, experimental sides and the invited guests – many of whom are not up to the task or not at full strength themselves – has accentuated the drop in quality.


History of the World Cup: 1954 – The Miracle of Bern

In a World Cup that many believed would serve as the coronation of a Hungary side that won the Olympics and swept aside all before them in the buildup to the tournament, West Germany stunned the field to come out on top in Switzerland in 1954.

THE MAIN STORY

With its headquarters in Zurich, FIFA celebrated its 50th anniversary by staging the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

This was a World Cup, held at the foot of the Swiss Alps, which reached dizzying heights of entertainment and drama thanks to a special Hungary team, an avalanche of goals and a “miracle” ending.

Forever known as the “Miracle of Bern,” West Germany defeated Ferenc Puskas and Hungary to win its first World Cup in one of the most dramatic World Cup finals.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT

The 16-team field was divided into four groups with two teams in each group seeded. Each country only played two games, and the two seeded teams did not play each other. Also, strangely enough, there were no draws — extra time was used to decide games that were tied at the end of regulation. The top two teams in each group would advance to the quarterfinals. Teams tied on points after two games would play an extra game to decide who progressed.

THE FINAL

The Hungary-West Germany final was a repeat of the first-round match that saw German coach Sepp Herberger purposely field a weakened team. The question going into this contest was whether or not Puskas would play. His ankle had not fully healed from the first game, but the Galloping Major trotted out onto the field at Bern’s Wankdorf stadium for the final on July 4.

Heavy rains made for a slick field, but although the conditions were hardly ideal, both sides put on a mesmerizing display of skill. Hungary jumped out to a 2-0 lead after eight minutes through Puskas and Zoltan Czibor. The Germans, to their credit, did not become unhinged and hit back within two minutes. Helmut Rahn’s centering pass deflected off of Hungary’s Jozsef Bozsik into the path of Max Morlock who athletically stretched to poke the ball past goalkeeper Gyula Grosics. In the 18th minute, Fritz Walter curled a corner kick that passed through the hands of Grosics and fell fortuitously at the feet of Rahn who thundered the ball into the back of the net.

Puskas was denied twice on brilliant saves by Toni Turek, Kocsis’s header hit the crossbar, and German defender Werner Kohlmeyer cleared Jozsef Toth’s shot off the goal-line. Germany weathered the storm, and with six minutes left in regulation, it completed the miraculous comeback. Hans Schaefer raced down the left wing and crossed the ball over a crowd of players into the penalty box. Hungary’s Mihaly Lantos appeared to have intercepted, but instead the ball flashed by him and into the path of Rahn who took a few steps before driving a low shot past the goalkeeper.

The frantic Hungarians appeared to have equalized a mere two minutes later when Puskas, still labouring under a sore ankle, latched onto a pass from Toth that beat the German defence and scored. It was not to be, however, as the Welsh linesman ruled Puskas was offside, a controversial call that Hungary disputed even after the game. Shortly after, English referee Bill Ling blew the final whistle.

QUICK FACTS

Number of participating teams: 16
Top scorer: Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis (11 goals)
Number of games: 26
Total goals scored: 140
Average goals per game: 5.38
Highest scoring game: Austria’s 7-5 win over Switzerland on June 262
Total attendance: 943,000
Average attendance: 36,269

MAN OF THE TOURNAMENT

Sandor Kocsis. With Ferenc Puskas injured, the legendary centre-forward took centre stage and finished the competition as top scorer with 11 goals. Nicknamed “Golden Head” for his aerial ability, Kocsis became the first man to score two hat tricks in the same World Cup (three goals against South Korea, four against West Germany in the first round).

MATCH OF THE TOURNAMENT

Hungary’s 4-2 victory over Uruguay in the semifinals. The most exciting match of the tournament pitted dominant Hungary against the reigning world champions. Tied 2-2 after 90 minutes, Sandor Kocsis scored a pair of goals in extra time to lift Hungary to victory in what is widely regarded as one of greatest games in World Cup history.

ALL HAIL HUNGARY

Aside from the Brazil team of 1982 and the 1974 Dutch side, Hungary’s 1954 squad is regarded as the greatest team never to win a World Cup. Led by the legendary quartet of Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti and Jozsef Bozsik, Hungary was the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite. Gold-medal winners at the 1952 Helsinki Games, Hungary was unbeaten since May 1950 in 28 games (24 wins, four draws) prior to the World Cup.

TOR! TOR! TOR! TOR!

Herbert Zimmermann description of Helmut Rahn’s winning goal against Hungary is the most famous piece of commentary in German sports history.

Schafer nach innen geflankt… Kopfball… Abgewehrt. Aus dem Hintergrund mußte Rahn schießen… Rahn schießt! Tor! Tor! Tor! Tor! (Silence) Tor fur Deutschland! Drei zu zwei fuhrt Deutschland. Halten Sie mich für verruckt, halten Sie mich fur ubergeschnappt!

Schafer puts in the cross… header… Cleared. Rahn must shoot from deep… Rahn shoots! Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal! (Zimmermann falls silent for eight seconds) Goal for Germany! Germany lead 3-2. Call me mad, call me crazy!

THE KICK THAT WON THE WORLD CUP

Hungary dismantled West Germany 8-3 in the first round, with Kocsis scoring four goals. The game, however, was more noteworthy for an incident involving Puskas and Werner Liebrich. The tall, blond German defender savagely hacked at Puskas’s ankles and the Galloping Major crashed to the ground. In essence, it was this kick that won the World Cup. Puskas left the game and did not return until the final where he was a shadow of his usual great self against the Germans.

THE BATTLE OF BERN

The quarterfinal between Hungary and Brazil was one of the ugliest matches ever at the World Cup and became known as the infamous “Battle of Bern.” Three players were ejected, several were brought down by vicious tackles and fisticuffs were exchanged. Even after the game, won 4-2 by Hungary, tensions boiled over as the teams fought back to the locker-rooms — according to several observers, Puskas, who watched from the sidelines, hit Brazilian defender Pinheiro in the face with a bottle.

GOALS GALORE

The 1954 tournament averaged an amazing 5.38 goals-per-game, still the highest average in World Cup history.

THAT’S ONE WAY OF PASSING THE BALL

One of the strangest goals at the World Cup was scored during the England-Uruguay quarterfinal. Setting up for a free kick, Obdulio Varela picked up the ball and dropkicked it (similar to a CFL punter) while teammate Juan Schiaffino ran past the confused English defence and scored. Amazingly, the referee allowed the goal to stand.

ON THE BIG SCREEN

German director Sonke Wortmann’s feature film “Das Wunder von Bern,” (The Miracle of Bern), came out in 2003. The movie tells the tale of a young boy and his unemployed father who are brought together by West Germany’s win over Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final.

ON THE SMALL SCREEN

The 1954 World Cup was the first to be televised.

QUIRKY FACTS

• FIFA issued special coins to mark the competition.

• Sixteen teams took part in the finals, three more than the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. This figure remained constant until the 1982 World Cup in Spain when the field ballooned to 24 nations.

• Two players in 1954 went on to play for different nations at future tournaments. Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas and Uruguay’s Jose Santamaria both played for Spain at the 1962 World Cup in Chile.

• Aside from Kocsis, only three other players have ever scored two hat tricks at the World Cup — France’s Just Fontaine (both in 1958), Germany’s Gerd Muller (both in 1970) and Argentina’s Gabriel Batistuta (one in 1994 and one in 1998).

• Turkey qualified for the World Cup under very unusual circumstances. They had split two games with Spain and the third game in the playoff series, held in a neutral country (Italy), finished tied at the end of regulation. Instead of playing extra time, a local Italian teenager was blindfolded and drew straws to determine the winner. Turkey won.


'We would have won it'

Despite being denied his shot at the limelight, Osei Kofi professes to have no bitterness.

"We should have regretted not playing in the World Cup but it was a cheat," he said. "It was not fair. And it hurt Fifa for Africa to do this."

"I don't know any of us who will say he didn't regret it," Kofi Pare, another Ghana international in the 1960s, told the BBC.

"After we had been watching the World Cup, we knew we could have done better. I think we were one of the greatest teams."

"If we had played at the World Cup, we would have gone to the final - or won it - honestly."

Over 100 teams in Africa, Asia and Oceania contested the last World Cup qualifiers but for 1966, there were just two (with some Asian nations having withdrawn for economic reasons).

A meticulously-prepared North Korea side thumped Australia 9-2 to secure a major propagandist boost for their government and reach their first finals, which they then lit up.

They stunned Italy before taking a 3-0 lead against Portugal in the quarter-finals - only for Eusebio to answer with four goals in an unforgettable 5-3 win.

His performances were laden with irony.

For like captain Mario Coluna and two other mainstays of the Portugal team that finished a best-ever third, Eusebio was effectively African.

All four were born in Mozambique, which was then a Portuguese colony.

With minnows punching above their weight and an "African" finishing as the tournament's top scorer, the winds of change were blowing through the World Cup.

Two years after the finals, it unanimously voted to give Africa a World Cup place all of its own. Asia got one too.

"I think it was absolutely pivotal," says football historian Tomlinson.

"If Fifa had proved obstructionist about that, world football might have gone in a different direction."

Today, Africa has five places at the 32-team World Cup and briefly, when South Africa became the first African country to host in 2010, once had six.

But one goal has been more than achieved. Since boycotting the 1966 edition, Africa has been present at every World Cup.

So the legacy of Djan and Tessema lives on as Roger Milla, Asamoah Gyan et al continue the theme of Africa's greatest World Cup strikers - this time on the pitch.


Teams That Have Never Qualified For the FIFA World Cup Finals

Luxembourg

The Luxembourg football team has had the most attempts on this list with 20 qualifying attempts. The first attempt came all the way back after the first World Cup in 1934 with the most recent attempt happening in 2018. One of the reasons that they have failed to qualify continuously has been the lack of experienced and star players within their ranks that can galvanize the squad when they need it the most. The strikers have also not been delivering at all. In their latest qualification attempt in 2018, they managed to score a total of only eight goals. With such worrying trends that go back as far as the first time they ever tried, it is unlikely that Luxembourg will compete in the World Cup finals in the near future.

Finland

Second on this list is Finland's national team with one less attempt compared to the Luxembourg football team. In the 2000s, Finland may have found the solution to their qualifying problems after going for Roy Hodgson as manager. Roy led the Nordic team to a historic ranking of 30. Unfortunately, this ranking is something that they have never been able to replicate. If they are able to go for another top manager, then they may stand a realistic chance of qualification. If they need inspiration, they should only look to underdogs such as Iceland in the 2018 World Cup finals.

Syria

Syria is a surprise on this list with 14 qualifying attempts. The most recent one came in 2018 despite the political instability in the country. Even more surprising is the fact that the closest they have ever come to qualification for the finals is in 2018. The war even threatened to derail their qualification attempts after they were prevented from playing home games within the country. Were it not for Malaysia offering to host them, they would have been disqualified.

Zambia

This team has made the most attempts, 13, among African countries. Despite three appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations and winning it once in 2012, they have never made it to the World Cup. However, the team has showed promising signs of qualification in recent years, showing that 2022 may just be the year for Zambia to make it to the World Cup.


Share All sharing options for: World Cup winners list: A complete history

In 1930, thirteen teams participated in the first World Cup held in Uruguay. Since then, the countries of the world have come together every four years (except in the 1940's-yes Germany, looking at you here) to play in the tournament, with 77 countries having participated in 20 tournaments as of 2014.

Despite, the large number of countries to participate, only eight of them have enjoyed the glory of actually winning it. Brazil are on the top with five (don't mention this to Brazilians right now, though), and Germany are next on the list with four, their most recent having been secured against Argentina on Sunday. Here's a quick tour of each winning nation.

Germany became the first ever European team to win a World Cup in South America, and lifted the trophy for the first time since reunification. Fittingly, in a tournament in which nothing was predictable, Germany didn't look completely convincing en route to their final against Argentina, and notably needed extra time to get past the unfavoured Algeria in the first knockout round. However, Die Mannschaft grew into the tournament, and inflicted a historic 7-1 thrashing on tournament hosts Brazil in the semis before Mario Götze's last-gasp extra time strike settled a close final. Argentina captain Lionel Messi earned the Golden Ball as a consolation which was really none at all.

South Africa 2010: Spain

The Spanish team in 2010 was special, which makes its early exit in Brazil even more of a mystery. In South Africa, Andrés Iniesta scored in the 116th minute agaist the Netherlands to give Spain their first World Cup. Six members of the team, along with their coach Vincente del Bosque, were voted onto the team of the tournament. Iker Casillas, the goalkeeper, won the Golden Glove award (previously the Yashin Award), shutting out his opponents in five of the seven matches. The team also won the FIFA Fair Play Trophy.

Italy's victory over France in the final was one for the memories. Not only did Italy win 5-3 on penalty kicks, but France's captain Zinedine Zidane was red-carded for head-butting Marco Materazzi in extra-time. Italy's goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon won the Yashin Award given to the best goalkeeper, and was one of seven Italian players voted to the All-Star team. The victory gave Italy their fourth World Cup title, then second only to Brazil's five, but matched by Germany this year.

K orea-Japan 2002: Brazil

This World Cup was Ronaldo's World Cup. The old one. The Brazilian striker won the Golden Boot award (highest scoring player), scoring eight goals in the tournament. Two of those came in the final, as Brazil shut out Germany 2-0 and won their record fifth World Cup. Ronaldo was voted to the team of the tournament along with teammates Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Roberto Carlos finished with a 7-0-0 record and a plus-14 goal differential.

If you think the header is a typo, you are mistaken! When France won the tournament in France they became the sixth country to win the tournament on home soil. France's goalkeeper won the inaugural Yashin Award, letting in only two goals, and eight French players scored in the tournament. Zinedine Zidane headlined the French attack, as France ended with a plus-13 goal differential. They were also given the FIFA Fair Play Trophy and voted the Most Entertaining Team.

When Brazil faced Italy in the '94 final both teams were looking for their record fourth title. Brazil defeated Italy 3-2 on penalty kicks, becoming the first country to win the final via a shootout. Romário scored five goals and won the Golden Ball award (best player), and Brazil won the FIFA Fair Play Trophy and was voted the Most Entertaining Team. On a side note, the US chose this as the the mascot for the tournament.

#Fifa #WorldCup World Cup In honor of this amazing month of soccer, #tbt World Cup '94 with the mascot Striker #b. pic.twitter.com/ri1nVPC4iT

— FIFA World Cup 2014 (@iFifaWorIdCup) July 3, 2014

In my opinion, we could have done better. A dog? A live bald eagle painted red, white, and blue would have been perfect.

Italy 1990: West Germany

The 1990 World Cup is widely considered to be one of the worst and the final was no different. West Germany (now Germany) beat Argentina 1-0 on a penalty kick in the 85th minute to win their then-record third World Cup. The victory also served as revenge for their loss to Argentina in the '86 final, but the most exciting part of the game were the two red cards handed out, the first dismissals in a final.

Mexico 1986: Argentina

Diego Maradona was the most heralded star going into the '86 tournament, and he delivered, scoring five goals and winning the Golden Ball award. Though Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in the final for their second title, the most memorable moments from the tournament come from Maradona's goals against England in a quarterfinal match. For his second goal of the match, Maradona took the ball by himself all the way from inside his own half and scored, in what was voted the goal of the century. His first goal, which has been dubbed the "Hand of God", was a bit more controversial. England's players quickly argued for a handball and after the game Maradona referenced the goal saying it was scored "A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God." Cut to 40 seconds and decide for yourself.

Italy beat West Germany 3-1in the final to win their record third World Cup title. The Italian side was led by striker Paolo Rossi, who won the Gold Boot award with six goals and the inaugural Golden Ball Award. He is one of three players to win a World Cup while also being the top scorer and being voted the best player. Italy's Dino Zoff was voted the tournament's best keeper.

Argentina 1978: Argentina

Argentina became the fifth country to win the World Cup at home when they beat the Netherlands 3-1 in the final. Maradona was not yet a part of team, but the team was not lacking in star power. Striker Mario Kempes won the Golden Boot award with six goals and was voted the best player of the tournament. Argentina's Ubaldo Fillol was voted the best goalkeeper.

West Germany 1974: West Germany

Playing in its own country, West Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1 to win its second World Cup. West Germany became the fourth country to win at home, and after losing to East Germany in the group stage, they didn't lose again. The team's Sepp Maier was voted the tournaments best goalkeeper. Seven players scored at least one goal and one of them was a guy named Wolfgang. Wolfgang! This was the first World Cup to feature the current design of the World Cup trophy.

Brazil topped Italy 4-1 to win its third World Cup. The team finished with a perfect 6-0-0 record and a plus-12 goal differential, while averaging just over three goals per game. Seven members of the team scored at least one goal, with Jairzinho scoring seven and Pelé adding four. Pelé was voted as the best player of the tournament. Captain Carlos Alberto scored a goal in the championship game that many consider to be one of the finest goals in the history of the World Cup.

Perhaps sick of seeing Brazil win two straight World Cups, England won on home soil, becoming the third country to do so. Geoff Hurst had the first and only hattrick in a World Cup final, and England went on to beat West Germany 4-2 in extra time. Midfielder Bobby Charlton scored three goals in the tournament and was voted the best player, and Gordon Banks was voted the best keeper.

Brazil defeated Czechoslovakia 3-1 to successfully defend their World Cup title. Though Pelé was injured early on didn't play after the second game, Brazil would not go away. Garrincha and Vavá were two of the top scorers of the tournament with four apiece, both tying for the Golden Boot, and were two of five Brazilians named to the All-Star team. Garrincha was also voted the best player of the tournament.

Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 in Sweden to win its first World Cup. Pelé scored two goals in the final (six overall) at just 17 years old and Vava added two as well (five overall), to help Brazil win the final. Midfielder Didi was voted the best player and Pelé was voted the best young player, and were joined by four teammates voted to the All-Star team. One of Pelé's goals in the final is widely hailed as one of the finest scoring sequences ever.

Switzerland 1954: West Germany

West Germany beat Hungary 3-2 to win its first World Cup. The final still stands as one of the greatest upsets in soccer history, and as one of the greatest achievements in German soccer history. The Hungarians, who played professional football, had beaten the Germans, who were all amateurs, 8-3 in the group stage, and finished the tournament with a plus 17 goal differential. Nevertheless, the Germans, were led by Helmut Rahn's two goals and found a way to win. Over the whole tournament, Germany had four players with at least four goals.

Uruguay won the first World Cup in 12 years, after the '42 and '46 World Cups were cancelled due to WWII, by beating Brazil 2-1 in the final match of the second group stage. The 1950 World Cup featured the only time the tournament was decided by group play and points. Leading Uruguay by one point, all Brazil needed was a tie to win the tournament, but they could not hold on to their one goal lead. Brazil pushed the change in format because two group stages guaranteed more games and thus more ticket revenue than a group stage and a knock-out round did. FIFA initially resisted, but acquiesced when Brazil threatened to withdrawal. Uruguay's Roque Máspoli was voted the tournaments best goalkeeper, and he along with five of his teammates were voted to the All-Star team.

Italy successfully defended its title in the third World Cup by defeating Hungary 4-2. Italy was led by strikers Silvio Piola and Gino Colaussi, who scored five and four goals, respectively. Both scored twice in the final, and were two of the six Italians voted to the All-Star team. During WWII, the Italian vice president of FIFA, hid the World Cup trophy under his bed in a shoe-box so that occupying troops would not steal it.

In the second rendition of the World Cup, Italy beat out Czechoslovakia 2-1 to win its first World Cup title, also becoming the second team to win it at home. Italy was led by Giuseppe Meazza, who was voted the best player and voted to the All-Star team with five of his teammates.

Uruguay won the first ever World Cup in the same year that they were celebrating the 100 year anniversary of their constitution. Uruguay had four different scorers in its 4-2 victory over Argentina, but were led from behind by the tournament's best player José Nasazzi, and Enrique Ballestrero, the tournament's best goalkeeper. Back in 1930, your grandparents weren't born yet, there were no ballpoint pens, and Batman and Superman did not yet exist. This is the tournament in which the US progressed the furthest: third place. 84 years later, we have not come close. Also, soccer balls looked like this:


Why The Real World Cup Dark Horses Are More Like The Spanish Inquisition

In the lead up to this World Cup there has been nary an angle that has not been considered and mined by journalists and bloggers.

One of the favorites have been the country or countries that might be the tournament dark horses.

So let’s consider what constitutes a dark horse and which countries have played that role at previous World Cups.The definition is a team that emerges to prominence. In that context we regularly have a dark horse at World Cups but it can be argued that we have never had a dark horse winner.

The closest might be West Germany in 1954 and that was more on account of the country still struggling to recover from the war and the fact that they had not even played at the 1950 World Cup.

So if we have now focused the field to teams that vastly exceed pre tournament expectations rather than have won the competition, we can concentrate on countries that have made surprising runs to the semi-finals.

Here is a selection of previous dark horses.

Drawn in what would now be considered the group of death along with the winners from 1958 and 1962 Brazil, Hungary and Bulgaria Portugal won all three group matches in their first ever appearance at the finals.

Even though Benfica and Sporting Lisbon were teams that had made an impact in the European Cup, the national team were only a few years away from getting a regular whipping from more prominent countries.

As winners of group 3 it looked like Portugal would be playing group 4 runners up and that looked destined to be Italy. Portugal wrapped up top spot the night before Italy was scheduled to play their final group match against North Korea. The Koreans had lost 3-0 to the Soviets and then drawn 1-1 with Chile.

A decent performance and narrow defeat to Italy would mean the North Koreans returning home with pride in tact. But it didn’t turn out that way. Pak Doo-Ik wrote his name into football history when he scored the only goal of the game just before half time and instead of Italy Portugal faced North Korea in the quarter-final.

Even then North Korea still had surprises – three to be exact. They led 3-0 before Eusebio scored 4 and Portugal won 5-3. England would beat Portugal in the semi final but third place would be secured with a 2-1 win over the Soviets.

After 1970 the second round was also played out in two groups of four. The second round group winners playing the final and the runners up played for third.

Although Poland had qualified at the expense of England it was considered a fluke….by the English media anyway. Drawn in group 4 with Argentina, Italy and Haiti Poland was tagged with a likely third place finish.

Instead they won all three group matches and moved on to group B along with West German, Sweden and Yugoslavia.

A loss to eventual winners West Germany would be Poland’s only defeat as they went on to beat Brazil 1-0 in the bronze medal game.

The number of countries competing had increased to 24 at Spain ’82. That meant that as well as 6 group winners and runners up there was also 4 best third place finishers joining the last 16 which in 1986 reverted to a knock out round.

Belgium scrapped through as a third place finisher behind Paraguay and Mexico in group B. But in the knock stage Belgium found form and a bit of good fortune.

The Soviet Union was beaten 4-3 and then Spain was beaten on penalty kicks. Spain had shocked a previously rampant Danish side 5-1 in the round before.

It would take two goals from Diego Maradona to stop Belgium in the semi-final. France beat Belgium in the third place match although it did take extra time.

English fans may take umbrage at England as a dark horse but going into and even during World Cup 1990 there was no reason to believe that their side could make it to the semi-finals. A 1-0 win against Egypt in group F meant that England topped the group otherwise they would have finished third and would have faced Germany in the last 16 rather than the last 4.

A goal with only a minute left in extra time saw off Belgium. Next up were Cameroon who had topped Group B ahead of 1986 champions Argentina who finished just third after losing to Cameroon in the tournament opener.

England had to come from behind to beat Cameroon in extra time and then lost to Germany on a penalty kick decider, again after extra time. Italy would beat England 2-1 in the third place game.

Bulgaria and Sweden 1994

No one saw either of these teams reaching the final four. Neither country was overly impressive in the group stage or the round of 16.

Bulgaria knocked out Mexico on a penalty kick decider while Sweden beat the surprising Saudi Arabia 3-1. Sweden needed penalties to beat Romania in the quarter-finals while Bulgaria did turn it up a few notches to beat Germany.

Bulgaria would then lose to Italy and Sweden to Brazil. Sweden would thump Bulgaria 4-0 in the third place match.

Everyone knew Croatia produced fantastic players and that they had made a fine showing at the Euros in 1996. Nonetheless a march to the semi-finals was as surprising as it was entertaining. Croatia benefited from a good group draw and only lost to Argentina. Romania was beaten in the last 16 then Germany were beaten 3-0 although the score was a bit flattering to Croatia.

The run ended in a semi-final loss to France but Netherlands were beaten 2-1 in the third place match.

Turkey’s run to the semi-final was a classic example of riding a wave of good fortune and taking advantage of a path that suddenly appears.

Turkey only qualified from the group stage by beating Costa Rica on goal differential. There have been some weak groups at World Cups but none more so than Brazil, Turkey, Costa Rica and China in 2002.

Turkey then beat surprise Group H winners Japan who finished ahead of Belgium and Russia. The quarter finals brought another 1-0 win against another surprise side, Senegal – this one in extra time.

Senegal had finished behind Denmark but ahead of Uruguay and 1998 winners France. Senegal had beaten Sweden 2-1 in extra time in the round of 16.

Turkey lost 1-0 to Brazil in the semi-final but would finish third when they beat co-host South Korea 3-2 in the third place match.

Uruguay needed a play off win against Costa Rica to make it to South Africa in 2010. But they did win group A that included South Africa, France and Mexico. Then there came a 2-1 win over South Korea and a controversial win over Ghana after extra time and a penalty kick decider.

Netherlands stopped Uruguay’s progress in the semi-final with a 3-2 win and Germany defeated the South Americans by the same score in the third place game.

History is not destiny but it very unlikely that the eventual winner of the 2014 World Cup will be a country other than Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain and Italy. Chile and Colombia seem to be the favorite dark horses but if previous tournaments tell us anything it is that the real dark horses are never expected……something like the Spanish Inquisition.

They often benefit from a good draw and/or a surprise in another group that opens up an easier path than might be expected otherwise.

As for my pick – I’m going for Bosnia-Herzegovina. I don’t see them reaching the last four but perhaps the last eight.


Post-World War I peace conference begins in Paris

On January 18, 1919, in Paris, France, some of the most powerful people in the world meet to begin the long, complicated negotiations that would officially mark the end of the First World War.

Leaders of the victorious Allied powers𠅏rance, Great Britain, the United States and Italy—would make most of the crucial decisions in Paris over the next six months. For most of the conference, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson struggled to support his idea of a “peace without victory” and make sure that Germany, the leader of the Central Powers and the major loser of the war, was not treated too harshly. On the other hand, Prime Ministers Georges Clemenceau of France and David Lloyd George of Britain argued that punishing Germany adequately and ensuring its weakness was the only way to justify the immense costs of the war. In the end, Wilson compromised on the treatment of Germany in order to push through the creation of his pet project, an international peacekeeping organization called the League of Nations.

Representatives from Germany were excluded from the peace conference until May, when they arrived in Paris and were presented with a draft of the Versailles Treaty. Having put great faith in Wilson’s promises, the Germans were deeply frustrated and disillusioned by the treaty, which required them to forfeit a great deal of territory and pay reparations. Even worse, the infamous Article 231 forced Germany to accept sole blame for the war. This was a bitter pill many Germans could not swallow.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, five years to the day after a Serbian nationalist’s bullet ended the life of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and sparked the beginning of World War I. In the decades to come, anger and resentment of the treaty and its authors festered in Germany. Extremists like Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) Party capitalized on these emotions to gain power, a process that led almost directly to the exact thing Wilson and the other negotiators in Paris in 1919 had wanted to prevent𠄺 second, equally devastating global war.


A Brief History of Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a graceful and artistic sport that requires a combination of strength, balance, agility, and muscle coordination, usually performed on specialized apparatus. Gymnasts perform sequences of movements requiring flexibility, endurance, and kinesthetic awareness, such as handsprings, handstands, split leaps, aerials and cartwheels.

Gymnastics as we know it dates back to ancient Greece. The early Greeks practiced gymnastics to prepare for war. Activities like jumping, running, discus throwing, wrestling, and boxing helped develop the muscles needed for hand-to-hand combat. Additional fitness practices used by the ancient Greeks included methods for mounting and dismounting a horses and a variety of circus performance skills.

Gymnastics became a central component of ancient Greek education and was mandatory for all students. Gymnasia, buildings with open-air courts where the training took place, evolved into schools where gymnastics, rhetoric, music, and mathematics were taught. The ancinet Olympic Games were born near this time.

As the Roman Empire ascended, Greek gymnastics for was more or less turned into military training. In 393 AD the Emperor Theodosius abolished the Olympic Games completely. The games had become corrupt, and gymnastics, along with other sports declined. For centuries, gymnastics was all but forgotten.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries two pioneer physical educators, Johann Friedrich GutsMuth and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn created exercises for boys and young men on sseveral apparatus they had designed. This innovation ultimately led to what is considered modern gymnastics. As a result, Friedrich Jahn became known as the "father of gymnastics". Jahn introduced the horizontal bar, parallel bars, side horse with pommels, balance beam, ladder, and vaulting horse.

In the early nineteenth century, educators in the United States followed suit and adopted German and Swedish gymnastics training programs. By the early twentieth century, the armed services began publishing drill manuals featuring all manner of gymnastic exercises. According to the US Army Manual of Physical Drill, these important drills provided proper instruction for the bodies of active young men.

As time went by, however, military activity moved away from hand-to-hand combat and toward fighter planes and contemporary computer-controlled weapons. As a result of the development of modern warfare, gymnastics training as the mind and body connection, so important for the Greek, German, and Swedish educational traditions, began to lose force. Gymnastics once again took on the aura of being a competitive sport.

By the end of the nineteenth century, men's gymnastics was popular enough to be included in the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896. The sport was a little different from what we currently know as gymnastics however. Up until the early 1950s, both national and international competitions involved a changing variety of exercises the modern gymnast may find a bit odd such as synchronized team floor calisthenics, rope climbing, high jumping, running, and horizontal ladder just to name a few.

Women first started to participate in gymnastics events in the 1920s and the first women's Olympic competition was held in the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, although the only event was synchronized calisthenics. Combined exercises for women were first held in 1928, and the 1952 Olympics featured the first full regime of events for women.

By the 1954 Olympic Games apparatus and events for both men and women had been standardized in modern format, and scoring standards, including a point system from 1 to 10, were implemented.
Modern Men's gymnastics events are scored on an individual and team basis, and presently include the floor exercise, horizontal bar, parallel bars, rings, pommel horse, vaulting, and the all-around, which combines the scores of the other six events.

Women's gymnastic events include balance beam, uneven parallel bars, combined exercises, floor exercises, vaulting, and rhythmic sportive gymnastics.

Until 1972, gymnastics for men emphasized power and strength, while women performed routines focused on grace of movement. That year, however, a 17-year-old Soviet gymnast named Olga Korbut captivated a television audience with her innovative and explosive routines.

Nadia Comaneci received the first perfect score, at the 1976 Olympic Games held in Montreal, Canada. She was coached by the famous Romanian, Bela Karolyi. Comaneci scored four of her perfect tens on the uneven bars, two on the balance beam and one in the floor exercise. Nadia will always be remembered as "a fourteen year old, ponytailed little girl" who showed the world that perfection could be achieved.

Mary Lou Retton became America's sweethart with her two perfect scores and her gold medal in the All-Around competition in front of the home crowd in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

These days gymnastics is a household name and many children participate in gymnastics at one time or another as they grow up. Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci, and Mary Lou Retton, along with all those gymnasts since, have helped popularize women's competitive gymnastics, making it one of the most watched Olympic events. Both men's and women's gymnastics now attract considerable international interest, and excellent gymnasts can be found on every continent.


World Cup

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World Cup, formally FIFA World Cup, in football (soccer), quadrennial tournament that determines the sport’s world champion. It is likely the most popular sporting event in the world, drawing billions of television viewers every tournament.

What is the World Cup?

The World Cup in football (soccer) is a quadrennial tournament of 32 national teams that is organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). It determines the sport’s men’s world champion. It is likely the most popular sporting event in the world, drawing billions of television viewers every tournament.

Why is the World Cup every four years?

The World Cup happens every four years in order to have enough time for the qualification tournaments and playoffs among national teams to take place. Additionally, four years provides the host country adequate time to plan the logistics of the tournament and how to best accommodate an influx of millions of fans.

How does qualifying for the World Cup work?

Qualifying for the World Cup is a long process during the years between each quadrennial tournament each of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s six confederations determines its own qualification system, which produces the teams that represent each confederation’s region. The six confederations are Africa Asia Europe North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Oceania and South America.

Where does World Cup prize money come from?

World Cup prize money comes from the earnings of the nonprofit Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). FIFA’s revenue is generated by high bids for television, marketing, and licensing rights for major football events that FIFA organizes. FIFA does not incur expenses for the construction of World Cup infrastructure, as those fall on the host country.

Who is the World Cup’s top scorer?

The World Cup all-time top scorer as of 2018 is Miroslav Klose of the German national football (soccer) team. He scored a total of 16 goals across four World Cup tournaments.

The first competition for the cup was organized in 1930 by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and was won by Uruguay. Held every four years since that time, except during World War II, the competition consists of international sectional tournaments leading to a final elimination event made up of 32 national teams. Unlike Olympic football, World Cup teams are not limited to players of a certain age or amateur status, so the competition serves more nearly as a contest between the world’s best players. Referees are selected from lists that are submitted by all the national associations.

The trophy cup awarded from 1930 to 1970 was the Jules Rimet Trophy, named for the Frenchman who proposed the tournament. This cup was permanently awarded in 1970 to then three-time winner Brazil (1958, 1962, and 1970), and a new trophy called the FIFA World Cup was put up for competition. Many other sports have organized “World Cup” competitions.


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