1938 FIFA World Cup

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 by beating Hungary 4–2 in the final. Italy's 1934 and 1938 teams became the only ones to have won two World Cups under the same coach, Vittorio Pozzo.

It was the first world cup that the host nation did not win the World Cup.

1938 FIFA World Cup
Coupe du Monde 1938
Fueßball-Wältmaischterschaft 1938 (Alemannic German)
Official poster
Tournament details
Host countryFrance
Dates4–19 June
Teams15 (from 4 confederations)
Venue(s)10 (in 9 host cities)
Final positions
Champions Italy (2nd title)
Runners-up Hungary
Third place Brazil
Fourth place Sweden
Tournament statistics
Matches played18
Goals scored84 (4.67 per match)
Attendance374,835 (20,824 per match)
Top scorer(s)Brazil Leônidas (7 goals)

Host selection

France was chosen as host nation by FIFA in Berlin on 13 August 1936. France was chosen over Argentina and Germany in the first round of voting. The decision to hold a second consecutive tournament in Europe (after Italy in 1934) caused outrage in South America, where it was believed that the venue should alternate between the two continents. This was the last World Cup to be staged before the outbreak of the Second World War.


Because of anger over the decision to hold a second successive World Cup in Europe, neither Uruguay nor Argentina entered the competition. Spain meanwhile could not participate due to the ongoing Spanish Civil 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 from 1938 until 2002 (inclusive), after which it 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, although 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 2018 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. Romania would not qualify for another World Cup until 1970, Poland and the Netherlands would not reappear at a finals tournament until 1974, and Norway would not qualify for another World Cup finals until 1994. A unified Germany team would not appear again until 1994, although Austria returned in 1954 and won third place.

List of qualified teams

The following 16 teams originally qualified for the final tournament. However, 15 teams participated after Austria's withdrawal due to the Anschluss.


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 World Cup tournament that used a straight knockout format.


1938 FIFA World Cup
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. Sweden was given a bye due to Austria's withdrawal.[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] Until they were knocked out in the first round in 2018, this was the only time Germany had failed to advance past the first round for 80 years.[4]

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.

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.

Rumour has it, before the finals Benito Mussolini was to have sent a telegram to the team, saying "Vincere o morire!" (literally translated as "Win or die!"). This should not have been meant as a literal threat, but instead just an encouragement to win. However, no record remains of such a telegram, and World Cup player Pietro Rava said, when interviewed, "No, no, no, that's not true. He sent a telegram wishing us well, but no never 'win or die'."[5]

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.[6]


Ten cities were planned to host the tournament; of these, all hosted matches except Lyon, which did not due to Austria's withdrawal.

Colombes Paris Marseille Lyon
Stade Olympique de Colombes Parc des Princes Stade Vélodrome Stade Gerland
(the only match there was cancelled)
Capacity: 60,000 Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 48,000 Capacity: 40,500
StadeolympiqueColombesJO1924 1932 Le parc des princes v1 Le Stade vélodrome de Marseille, le 13 juin 1937 Stade-Gerland-RWC2007
Toulouse Bordeaux
Stade du T.O.E.C.
(in the old Parc des Sports),
initially planned to
the new stadium
(in the new Parc des Sports)
Parc Lescure
Capacity: 15,000 Capacity: 34,694
Le Stade municipal de Bordeaux en 1938
Strasbourg Le Havre
Stade de la Meinau Stade Municipal
Capacity: 30,000 Capacity: 22,000
RC Strasbourg-FC Mulhouse, 4.11.1934, Stade de la Meinau Stade municipal du Havre - Wedstrijd Nederland-Tsjechoslowakije, WK 1938
Reims Lille Antibes
Vélodrome Municipal Stade Victor Boucquey Stade du Fort Carré
Capacity: 21,684 Capacity: 15,000 Capacity: 7,000
Stade Auguste-Delaune 2 Tribünen LilleOM-1937 Suède-Cuba de la Coupe du monde 1938 à Antibes (France)


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

Final tournament


Round of 16Quarter-finalsSemi-finalsFinal
5 June – Marseille
 Italy (aet)2
12 June – Paris (Olympique)
5 June – Paris (Olympique)
16 June – Marseille
5 June – Strasbourg
 Brazil (aet)6
12 and 14 June – Bordeaux
 Brazil1 (2)
5 June – Le Havre
 Czechoslovakia1 (1)
 Czechoslovakia (aet)3
19 June – Paris (Olympique)
5 June – Reims
12 June – Lille
 Dutch East Indies0
4 and 9 June – Paris (Princes)
  Switzerland1 (4)
16 June – Paris (Princes)
 Germany1 (2)
5 June – Lyon
 Sweden1 Third place
12 June – Antibes19 June – Bordeaux
 Sweden8 Brazil4
5 and 9 June – Toulouse
 Cuba0  Sweden2
 Cuba3 (2)
 Romania3 (1)

Round of 16

Switzerland  1–1 (a.e.t.) Germany
Abegglen Goal 43' Report Gauchel Goal 29'
Hungary 6–0 Dutch East Indies
Kohut Goal 13'
Toldi Goal 15'
Sárosi Goal 28'89'
Zsengellér Goal 35'76'
Sweden w/o[7] Austria
Cuba 3–3 (a.e.t.) Romania
Socorro Goal 44'103'
Magriñá Goal 69'
Report Bindea Goal 35'
Barátky Goal 88'
Dobay Goal 105'
France 3–1 Belgium
Veinante Goal 1'
Nicolas Goal 16'69'
Report Isemborghs Goal 38'
Italy 2–1 (a.e.t.) Norway
Ferraris Goal 2'
Piola Goal 94'
Report Brustad Goal 83'
Brazil 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'
Czechoslovakia 3–0 (a.e.t.) Netherlands
Košťálek Goal 93'
Zeman Goal 111'
Nejedlý Goal 118'


Switzerland  4–2 Germany
Walaschek Goal 42'
Bickel Goal 64'
Abegglen Goal 75'78'
Report Hahnemann Goal 8'
Lörtscher Goal 22' (o.g.)
Cuba 2–1 Romania
Socorro Goal 51'
Fernández Goal 57'
Report Dobay Goal 35'


Switzerland  0–2 Hungary
Report Sárosi Goal 40'
Zsengellér Goal 89'[9]
Sweden 8–0 Cuba
H. Andersson Goal 9'81'89'[10]
Wetterström Goal 22'37'44'
Keller Goal 80'[11]
Nyberg Goal 84'[12]
France 1–3 Italy
Heisserer Goal 10' Report Colaussi Goal 9'
Piola Goal 51'72'
Brazil 1–1 (a.e.t.) Czechoslovakia
Leônidas Goal 30' Report Nejedlý Goal 65' (pen.)


Brazil 2–1 Czechoslovakia
Leônidas Goal 57'
Roberto Goal 62'[13]
Report Kopecký Goal 25'


Hungary 5–1 Sweden
Jacobsson Goal 19' (o.g.)
Titkos Goal 37'
Zsengellér Goal 39'85'
Sárosi Goal 65'
Report Nyberg Goal 1'
Italy 2–1 Brazil
Colaussi Goal 51'
Meazza Goal 60' (pen.)
Report Romeu Goal 87'

Third place play-off

Sweden 2–4 Brazil
Jonasson Goal 28'
Nyberg Goal 38'
Report Romeu Goal 44'
Leônidas Goal 63'74'
Perácio Goal 80'


Italy 4–2 Hungary
Colaussi Goal 6'35'
Piola Goal 16'82'
Report Titkos Goal 8'
Sárosi Goal 70'


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

7 goals
5 goals
4 goals
3 goals
2 goals
1 goal
1 own goal

FIFA retrospective ranking

Pallone del mondiale di francia 1938
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.[14][15] 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  Brazil 5 3 1 1 14 11 +3 7
4  Sweden 3 1 0 2 11 9 +2 2
Eliminated in the quarter-finals
5  Czechoslovakia 3 1 1 1 5 3 +2 3
6   Switzerland 3 1 1 1 5 5 0 3
7  Cuba 3 1 1 1 5 12 −7 3
8  France 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 2
Eliminated in the round of 16
9  Romania 2 0 1 1 4 5 -1 1
10  Germany 2 0 1 1 3 5 -2 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


  1. ^ Ashdown, John (22 April 2014). "World Cup: 25 stunning moments … No11: Austria's Wunderteam". theguardian.com. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  2. ^ "History of the World Cup Final Draw" (PDF). Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  3. ^ Hesse-Lichtenberger, Ulrich (2003). Tor!: The Story of German Football. London: WSC Books. p. 85. ISBN 095401345X.
  4. ^ Steinberg, Jacob (27 June 2018). "South Korea 2-0 Germany: World Cup 2018 – as it happened". Retrieved 20 September 2018 – via www.theguardian.com.
  5. ^ Martin, Simon (1 April 2014): "World Cup: 25 stunning moments … No8: Mussolini's blackshirts' 1938 win". theguardian.com. Läst 22 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Jules Rimet Cup". FIFAWorldCup.com. Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  7. ^ a b Sweden were awarded a walkover as Austria were unable to compete because of the Austrian Anschluss in March 1938.
  8. ^ Actually from Austria, but finally representing the German Football Association because of the Anschluss.
  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 goal in the 80th minute as coming in the 60th minute.
  12. ^ RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 89th minute.
  13. ^ FIFA initially credits this goal to Leônidas, but changed it to Roberto in 2006."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "page 45" (PDF). Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  15. ^ "FIFA World Cup: Milestones, facts & figures. Statistical Kit 7" (PDF). FIFA. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2013.

External links

1938 FIFA World Cup Final

The 1938 FIFA World Cup Final was the deciding match of the 1938 FIFA World Cup. It was contested by Italy and Hungary. Italy won the game 4–2 to win the last tournament before World War II.

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 the first team to win the title on foreign soil) and were once more crowned World Cup winners.

The last survivor of the game was Italy's Pietro Rava, who died on 5 November 2006 at the age of 90.

1938 FIFA World Cup qualification

A total of 37 teams entered the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for a total of 16 spots in the final tournament. For the first time the title holders and the host country were given automatic qualification. Therefore, France, as the hosts, and Italy, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.

Due to the Spanish Civil War, Spain withdrew from the competition. The remaining 34 teams were divided into 12 groups, based on geographical considerations, as follows:

Groups 1 to 9 - Europe: 11 places, contested by 23 teams (including Egypt and Palestine).

Groups 10 and 11 - The Americas: 2 places, contested by 9 teams.

Group 12 - Asia: 1 place, contested by 2 teams.However, due to the withdrawal of Austria after qualifying (they had been annexed by Germany), only 15 teams actually competed in the final tournament. FIFA did not offer participation to the runner-up of the group that Austria had played in, Latvia.

A total of 21 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 22 qualifying matches were played, and 96 goals were scored (an average of 4.36 per match).

1938 FIFA World Cup squads

Below are the squads for the 1938 FIFA World Cup final tournament in France.

Hungary and Switzerland were the only teams who had players from foreign clubs. All the three such players represented French clubs.

Nine selected players (Germans) comes from foreign clubs of a "qualified but not participating" country (Austria) - Situation due to Anschluss.

Rosters include reserves, alternates, and preselected players that may have participated in qualifiers and/or pre-tournament friendlies but not in the finals themselves.

Adhemar Pimenta

Adhemar Pimenta was a Brazilian football manager.

He was born in Rio de Janeiro on April 12, 1896, and died in the same city on August 26, 1970.

Antal Szalay

Antal Szalay (12 March 1912 - 4 April 1960) was a Hungarian footballer who played for Újpest FC, as well as representing the Hungarian national football team at the 1934 and the 1938 FIFA World Cup. He went on to coach UTA Arad, FC Craiova, Carrarese Calcio, Pro Patria and St. George-Budapest.

Battle of Bordeaux (1938 FIFA World Cup)

The Battle of Bordeaux is an informal name for the World Cup football match between Brazil and Czechoslovakia on 12 June 1938 in the Parc Lescure in Bordeaux, France, one of the quarter-finals of the 1938 World Cup finals. The match had a series of brutal fouls by both sides, due to the lax officiating of Hungarian referee Pál von Hertzka.

Brazil v Poland (1938 FIFA World Cup)

Brazil v Poland was a football match held during the 1938 FIFA World Cup in France and still remembered by many Polish fans as Poland's first ever FIFA World Cup match. It is also Brazil's highest-scoring match in a FIFA World Cups tournament. The match held the record for highest-scoring World Cup match until 1954, when Austria beat Switzerland 7–5 in extra time.

Erik Persson (footballer)

Erik Persson (19 November 1909 – 1 February 1989) was a Swedish football forward who played for Sweden in the 1938 FIFA World Cup. He also played for AIK Fotboll.

Franz Wagner

Franz Wagner (born 23 September 1911; died 8 December 1974 in Vienna) was an Austrian football midfielder.

He earned 18 caps for the Austria national football team and participated in the 1934 FIFA World Cup. After the annexation of Austria by Germany, he earned 3 caps for the Germany national football team, and participated in the 1938 FIFA World Cup. He spent his club career at SK Rapid Wien.

Harry Andersson

Harry Emanuel Andersson (7 March 1913 in Norrköping - 6 June 1996) was a Swedish football striker.He played for IK Sleipner and was the top scorer of the 1934–35 Allsvenskan. Andersson also played for the Sweden national football team, for whom he appeared in the 1938 FIFA World Cup, at which he scored three goals.

József Turay

József Turay (1 March 1905 – 24 June 1963) is a Hungarian football forward who played for Hungary in the 1938 FIFA World Cup.He played with Ferencvárosi TC, MTK Hungária FC and Újvidéki AC in the Hungarian Championship. He also played for Ganz TE.

Karel Senecký

Karel Senecký (17 March 1919 – 28 April 1979) was a Czech football forward who played for Czechoslovakia in the 1938 FIFA World Cup. He also played for AC Sparta Prague.

In the season 1937–38 he moved to Yugoslavia and became manager of Hajduk Split.

László Cseh (footballer)

László Cseh (4 April 1910 – 8 January 1950) is a Hungarian football forward who played for Hungary in the 1938 FIFA World Cup. He also played for MTK Hungária FC.

Mario Zatelli

Mario Zatelli (21 December 1912 – 7 January 2004) was a French football (soccer) player and manager.

Born in Sétif, Algeria, but of Italian origin, he mostly played for Olympique de Marseille. For the French national team he got 1 caps (scored 1 goal) in 1939. He was in the roster also for 1938 FIFA World Cup, without playing any game. He later managed Olympique de Marseille in the 1970s and won one Ligue 1 and Coupe de France in 1972.He died in Sainte-Maxime, Var, French Riviera, at 91 years old.

Pál Titkos

Pál Titkos (8 January 1908 – 8 October 1988) was a Hungarian footballer. He played for MTK Hungária FC and the Hungary national football team. He scored two goals in the 1938 FIFA World Cup, including one in the final itself.

He coached MTK Budapest FC and Egypt.

Stade Chaban-Delmas

Stade Chaban-Delmas is a sporting stadium located in the city of Bordeaux, France. It was the home ground of FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Since 2011, it has also hosted matches of Top 14 rugby team Union Bordeaux Bègles.

Until 2001, the stadium's name was the Stade du Parc Lescure, so called after the fallow lands on which it was built (Lescure is from earlier d'Escure, a transformation of "des Cures," part of the name of the chapelle Saint-Laurent-des-Cures-lès-Bourdeaus, formerly a prominent feature of the area). That year it was renamed after politician Jacques Chaban-Delmas, who was the mayor of Bordeaux from 1947 to 1995.

First built in 1930 as a cycle-racing track, in 1935 it was reconfigured to accommodate the upcoming 1938 FIFA World Cup. It was the first stadium in the world to have stands entirely covered without any pillars obstructing visibility of the playing area. Classified as a historic building, its restoration has been difficult, as its roof does not cover seats built after 1984 on the old cycle track.

The current seating capacity of the stadium is 34,462, following a series of expansions of the stands, in particular for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. A record 40,211 spectators were in attendance on 24 April 1985 to watch a match between Girondins de Bordeaux and Juventus.

In preparation of several matches that were held here for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, two giant television screens measuring 37 m2 were installed.

The tunnel connecting the locker rooms of the players to the ground is the longest in Europe (close to 120 meters).

On 19 July 2011, FC Girondins de Bordeaux announced plans to construct a new stadium, located in Bordeaux-Lac, with seating capacity of 42,115 for sporting events. Construction of the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux began in 2013 and ended in April 2015.

Stadium de Toulouse

Stadium de Toulouse is the largest multi-purpose stadium in Toulouse, France. It is currently used mostly for football matches, mainly those of the Toulouse Football Club and the big games of rugby for Stade Toulousain in the European Rugby Champions Cup or Top 14. It also hosts the test matches of France's national rugby union team. It is located on the island of Ramier near the centre of Toulouse. It is a pure football and rugby ground, and therefore has no athletics track surrounding the field. The stadium is able to hold 33,150 people.The stadium was built in 1937 for the 1938 FIFA World Cup (but again under construction, the World Cup matches were playing in the Stade du T.O.E.C., 4 kilometers further North) and has undergone two extensive renovations, in 1949 and 1997.

The stadium staged six matches during the 1998 FIFA World Cup.It was also used as a host venue during the 2007 Rugby World Cup for games such as Japan-Fiji, won by the latter 35–31. On 13 November 2009 the stadium hosted international rugby again when France hosted South Africa. At the time, South Africa were leading the series by 20 wins to 10 (6 drawn).Michael Jackson performed in front of 40,000 people during his Dangerous World Tour on 16 September 1992.

Sven Jacobsson

Sven Jacobsson (17 April 1914 – 9 July 1983) was a Swedish football midfielder who played for Sweden in the 1938 FIFA World Cup. He also played for GAIS.

Vilmos Kohut

Vilmos "Willy" Kohut (17 July 1906 – 18 February 1986) was a Hungarian footballer. He played as a striker for the Ferencvárosi TC, French team Olympique Marseille and the Hungarian national team. Kohut got 25 caps and 14 goals for the Hungarian national team between 1925 and 1938. He represented his country at the 1938 FIFA World Cup and scored 1 goal in 2 matches.

1938 FIFA World Cup
General information
1938 FIFA World Cup finalists
Third place
Fourth place
First round
Disciplinary record
Team appearances
Overall records and statistics


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