1938 FIFA World Cup

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1938 FIFA World Cup
Coupe du Monde 1938
Official poster
Tournament details
Host country France
Dates 4 June – 19 June (16 days)
Teams 15 (from 4 confederations)
Venue(s) 10 (in 10 host cities)
Final positions
Champions  Italy (2nd title)
Runners-up  Hungary
Third place 23x15px Brazil
Fourth place  Sweden
Tournament statistics
Matches played 18
Goals scored 84 (4.67 per match)
Attendance 375,700 (20,872 per match)
Top scorer(s) 23x15px Leônidas (7 goals)

The 1938 FIFA World Cup was the third staging of the World Cup, and was held in France from 4 to 19 June 1938. Italy retained the championship (and thus became the only team to have won two FIFA World Cups under the same coach, or Vittorio Pozzo), beating Hungary 4–2 in the final.

Host selection

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France was chosen as hosts by FIFA in Berlin on August 13, 1936. France defeated Argentina and Germany in the first round of voting. The decision caused outrage in South America where it was believed that the venue would alternate between the two continents; instead, it was the second tournament in a row to be played in Europe. This was the last World Cup to be staged before the outbreak of the Second World War.


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Because of anger over the decision to hold a second successive World Cup in Europe, neither Uruguay nor Argentina entered the competition, while Spain became the first country to be prevented from competing because of it being at war.

It was the first time that the hosts (France) and the title holders (Italy) qualified automatically. Title holders were given an automatic entry into the World Cup until 2006 when this was abolished.

Of the 14 remaining places, eleven were allocated to Europe, two to the Americas, and one to Asia. As a result, only three non-European nations took part: Brazil, Cuba and the Dutch East Indies. This is the smallest ever number of teams from outside the host continent to compete at a FIFA World Cup.

Austria qualified for the World Cup, but after qualification was complete, the Anschluss united Austria with Germany. Austria subsequently withdrew from the tournament, with some Austrian players joining the German squad (not including Austrian star player Matthias Sindelar, who refused to play for the unified team).[1] Latvia was the runner-up in Austria's qualification group, but was not invited to participate; instead Austria's place remained empty, and Sweden, which would have been Austria's initial opponent, progressed directly to the second-round by default.

This tournament saw the first, and as of 2014 the only, participation in a World Cup tournament from Cuba and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). It also saw the World Cup debuts of Poland and Norway. Poland and the Netherlands would not reappear at a finals tournament until 1974, while Norway would not qualify for another World Cup finals until 1994. A unified Germany team would not appear again until 1994.


The knockout format from 1934 was retained. If a match was tied after 90 minutes, then 30 minutes of extra time were played. If the score was still tied after extra time, the match would be replayed. This was the last of the two World Cup tournaments that used a straight knockout format.


Qualifying countries and their results

Germany, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Cuba and Brazil were seeded for draw taking place in Paris, on 5 March 1938.[2]

Five of the seven first round matches required extra time to break the deadlock; two games still went to a replay. In one replay, Cuba advanced to the next round at the expense of Romania. In the other replay, Germany, which had led 1–0 in the first game against Switzerland, led 2–0 but eventually was beaten 2–4. This loss, which took place in front of a hostile, bottle-throwing crowd in Paris, was blamed by German coach Sepp Herberger on a defeatist attitude from the five Austrian players he had been forced to include; a German journalist later commented that "Germans and Austrians prefer to play against each other even when they're in the same team".[3] This remains, as of 2014, the only time in World Cup history in which Germany failed to advance to the final eight (they did not enter in 1930 and had been re-admitted only after the 1950 WC).

Sweden advanced directly to the quarter-finals as a result of Austria's withdrawal, and they proceeded to beat Cuba 8–0. The hosts, France, were beaten by the holders, Italy, and Switzerland were seen off by Hungary. Czechoslovakia took Brazil to extra time in a notoriously feisty match in Bordeaux before succumbing in a replay; the South Americans proved too strong for the depleted Czechoslovak side (both Oldřich Nejedlý and František Plánička had suffered broken bones in the first game) and won 2–1. This was the last ever match to be replayed in a World Cup, with all winners of replay matches in 1938 having been eliminated in the next round.

Hungary destroyed Sweden in one of the semi-finals 5–1, while Italy and Brazil had the first of their many important World Cup clashes in the other. The Brazilians rested their star player Leônidas confident that they would qualify for the final, but the Italians won 2–1. Brazil topped Sweden 4–2 for third place.

Before the finals, Benito Mussolini sent a telegram to the team, saying "Vincere o morire!", which is literally translated as "Win or die!". However, this was not meant to be a literal threat, but instead just an encouragement to win.[citation needed] The final itself took place at the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris. Vittorio Pozzo's Italian side took the lead early, but Hungary equalised within two minutes. The Italians took the lead again shortly after, and by the end of the first half were leading the Hungarians 3–1. Hungary never really got back into the game. With the final score favouring the Italians 4–2, Italy became the first team to successfully defend the title and were once more crowned World Cup winners.

Because of World War II, the World Cup would not be held for another 12 years, until 1950. As a result, Italy were the reigning World Cup holders for a record 16 years, from 1934 to 1950. The Italian Vice-President of FIFA, Dr. Ottorino Barassi, hid the trophy in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the Second World War and thus saved it from falling into the hands of occupying troops.[4]


1938 FIFA World Cup is located in France
Le Havre
Le Havre
A map showing the locations of the venues used at the 1938 FIFA World Cup. The only match scheduled for Lyon was cancelled as a result of Austria's withdrawal

Ten cities were planned to host the tournament:

Antibes Bordeaux Le Havre Lille
Stade du Fort Carré Parc Lescure Stade Municipal Stade Victor Boucquey
Capacity: 7,000 Capacity: 34,694 Capacity: 22,000 Capacity: 15,000
Stade du Fort Carré, Antibes, France.jpg Panorama Chaban-Delmas.jpg Stade municipal du Havre - Wedstrijd Nederland-Tsjechoslowakije, WK 1938.jpg LilleOM-1937.jpg
Paris Reims Strasbourg
Parc des Princes Stade Olympique de Colombes Vélodrome Municipal Stade de la Meinau
Capacity: 48,712 Capacity: 60,000 Capacity: 21,684 Capacity: 30,000
Paris-Parc-des-Princes.jpg Stade Yves du Manoir Colombes7.jpg Stade Auguste-Delaune 2 Tribünen.JPG Stade de la Meinau fassade2.JPG
Lyon Marseilles Toulouse
Stade Gerland
(the only match there was cancelled)
Stade Vélodrome Stade Chapou
Capacity: 40,500 Capacity: 48,000 Capacity: 35,472
Stade-Gerland-RWC2007.JPG Vue du virage Depé.jpg StadiumToulouse3.JPG

Of these, all but Lyon ultimately hosted matches. Lyon did not due to Austria's withdrawal.


For a list of all squads that appeared in the final tournament, see 1938 FIFA World Cup squads.


First round Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
5 June – Marseille            
  Italy (aet)  2
12 June – Paris (Olympique)
  Norway  1  
  Italy  3
5 June – Paris (Olympique)
    France  1  
  France  3
16 June – Marseille
  Belgium  1  
  Italy  2
5 June – Strasbourg
   23x15px Brazil  1  
 23x15px Brazil (aet)  6
12 June – Bordeaux
(replayed 14 June)
  Poland  5  
 23x15px Brazil  1 (2)
5 June – Le Havre
    Czechoslovakia  1 (1)  
  Czechoslovakia (aet)  3
19 June – Paris (Olympique)
  Netherlands  0  
  Italy  4
5 June – Reims
    Hungary  2
  Hungary  6
12 June – Lille
  Dutch East Indies  0  
  Hungary  2
4 June – Paris (Princes)
(replayed 9 June)
     Switzerland  0  
   Switzerland  1 (4)
16 June – Paris (Princes)
  Germany  1 (2)  
  Hungary  5
5 June – Lyon
    Sweden  1   Third Place
  Sweden  w/o
12 June – Antibes 19 June – Bordeaux
  Austria[5]  —  
  Sweden  8  23x15px Brazil  4
5 June – Toulouse
(replayed 9 June)
    Cuba  0     Sweden  2
  Cuba  3 (2)
  Romania  3 (1)  

First round

4 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Switzerland   1–1 (a.e.t.)  Germany
Abegglen Goal 43' Report Gauchel Goal 29'
Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: 27,152
Referee: John Langenus (Belgium)

5 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Hungary  6–0  Dutch East Indies
Kohut Goal 14'
Toldi Goal 16'
Sárosi Goal 25'88'
Zsengellér Goal 30'67'
Vélodrome Municipal, Reims
Attendance: 9,000
Referee: Roger Conrié (France)

5 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Cuba  3–3 (a.e.t.)  Romania
Socorro Goal 44'103'
Magriñá Goal 69'
Report Bindea Goal 35'
Barátky Goal 88'
Dobay Goal 105'
Stade Chapou, Toulouse
Attendance: 7,000
Referee: Giuseppe Scarpi (Italy)

5 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
France  3–1  Belgium
Veinante Goal 1'
Nicolas Goal 16'69'
Report Isemborghs Goal 38'

5 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Italy  2–1 (a.e.t.)  Norway
Ferraris Goal 2'
Piola Goal 94'
Report Brustad Goal 83'
Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Attendance: 19,000
Referee: Alois Beranek (Germany)[6]

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5 June 1938
17:30 (WEST)
Brazil 23x15px 6–5 (a.e.t.)  Poland
Leônidas Goal 18'93'104'
Romeu Goal 25'
Perácio Goal 44'71'
Report Scherfke Goal 23' (pen.)
Wilimowski Goal 53'59'89'118'
Stade de la Meinau, Strasbourg
Attendance: 13,452
Referee: Ivan Eklind (Sweden)

5 June 1938
18:30 (WEST)
Czechoslovakia  3–0 (a.e.t.)  Netherlands
Košťálek Goal 93'
Nejedlý Goal 111'[7]
Zeman Goal 118'[8]
Stade municipal, Le Havre
Attendance: 11,000
Referee: Lucien Leclerq (France)


9 June 1938
18:00 (WEST)
Germany  2–4   Switzerland
Hahnemann Goal 8'
Lörtscher Goal 22' (o.g.)
Report Walaschek Goal 42'
Bickel Goal 64'
Abegglen Goal 75'78'
Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: 20,025
Referee: Ivan Eklind (Sweden)

9 June 1938
18:00 (WEST)
Cuba  2–1  Romania
Socorro Goal 51'
Fernández Goal 57'
Report Dobay Goal 35'
Stade Chapou, Toulouse
Attendance: 8,000
Referee: Alfred Birlem (Germany)


12 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Switzerland   0–2  Hungary
Report Sárosi Goal 40'
Zsengellér Goal 89'[9]
Stade Victor Boucquey, Lille
Attendance: 15,000
Referee: Rinaldo Barlassina (Italy)

12 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Sweden  8–0  Cuba
H. Andersson Goal 9'81'90'[10]
Wetterström Goal 32'37'44'[11]
Keller Goal 80'[12]
Nyberg Goal 84'[13]

12 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
France  1–3  Italy
Heisserer Goal 10' Report Colaussi Goal 9'
Piola Goal 51'72'
Stade Olympique de Colombes, Paris
Attendance: 58,455
Referee: Louis Baert (Belgium)

12 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Brazil 23x15px 1–1 (a.e.t.)  Czechoslovakia
Leônidas Goal 30' Report Nejedlý Goal 65' (pen.)
Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
Attendance: 22,021
Referee: Pál von Hertzka (Hungary)


14 June 1938
18:00 (WEST)
Brazil 23x15px 2–1  Czechoslovakia
Leônidas Goal 57'
Roberto Goal 62'[14]
Report Kopecký Goal 25'
Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
Attendance: 18,141
Referee: Georges Capdeville (France)


16 June 1938
18:00 (WEST)
Hungary  5–1  Sweden
Jacobsson Goal 19' (o.g.)
Titkos Goal 37'
Zsengellér Goal 39'85'
Sárosi Goal 65'
Report Nyberg Goal 1'
Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: 20,000
Referee: Lucien Leclerq (France)

16 June 1938
18:00 (WEST)
Italy  2–1 23x15px Brazil
Colaussi Goal 51'
Meazza Goal 60' (pen.)
Report Romeu Goal 87'
Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Attendance: 33,000
Referee: Hans Wüthrich (Switzerland)

Match for third place

19 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Sweden  2–4 23x15px Brazil
Jonasson Goal 28'
Nyberg Goal 38'
Report Romeu Goal 44'
Leônidas Goal 63'74'
Perácio Goal 80'
Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
Attendance: 12,000
Referee: John Langenus (Belgium)


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19 June 1938
17:00 (WEST)
Hungary  2–4  Italy
Titkos Goal 8'
Sárosi Goal 70'
Report Colaussi Goal 6'35'
Piola Goal 16'82'[15]


With seven goals, Leônidas is the top scorer in the tournament. In total, 84 goals were scored by 42 different players, with two of them credited as own goals.

3 goals
2 goals
1 goal
Own goals

FIFA retrospective ranking

A ball from the tournament

In 1986, FIFA published a report that ranked all teams in each World Cup up to and including 1986, based on progress in the competition, overall results and quality of the opposition.[16][17] The rankings for the 1938 tournament were as follows:

R Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts.
1  Italy 4 4 0 0 11 5 +6 8
2  Hungary 4 3 0 1 15 5 +10 6
3 23x15px Brazil 4 2 1 1 12 10 +2 5
4  Sweden 3 1 0 2 11 9 +2 2
Eliminated in the quarter-finals
5  Czechoslovakia 2 1 1 0 4 1 +3 3
6  France 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 2
7   Switzerland 2 0 1 1 1 3 −2 1
8  Cuba 2 0 1 1 3 11 −8 1
Eliminated in the round of 16
9  Romania 1 0 1 0 3 3 0 1
10  Germany 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
11  Poland 1 0 0 1 5 6 −1 0
12  Norway 1 0 0 1 1 2 −1 0
13  Belgium 1 0 0 1 1 3 −2 0
14  Netherlands 1 0 0 1 0 3 −3 0
15  Dutch East Indies 1 0 0 1 0 6 −6 0


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  5. 5.0 5.1 Sweden were awarded a walkover as Austria were unable to compete because of the Austrian Anschluss in March 1938.
  6. Actually from Austria, but finally representing the German Football Association because of the Anschluss.
  7. RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 118th minute.
  8. RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 111th minute.
  9. RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 90th minute.
  10. RSSSF credits goal in the 81st minute as coming in the 61st minute.
  11. RSSSF credits the goal in the 32nd minute as coming in the 22nd minute.
  12. RSSSF credits goal in the 80th minute as coming in the 60th minute.
  13. RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 89th minute.
  14. FIFA initially credits this goal to Leônidas, but changed it to Roberto in 2006. Archived November 16, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  15. RSSSF credits the goal in the 82nd minute as coming in the 85th minute.
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External links