WORLD CUP : History—1938

Europe was teetering on the brink of major conflict and France was chosen to stage the 1938 World Cup. Austria’s ‘Wunderteam’ was a notable absentee while Spain were also missing. England were in conflict with FIFA, and South America sent only one representative, Brazil. Asia was represented for the first time, by Indonesia, playing as the Dutch East Indies, though were quickly on their way home after losing 6-0 to Hungary in the first round. Having edged Brazil 2-1 in the semis, Italy, under coach Vittorio Pozzo, lifted the trophy for the second tournament in succession, defeating Hungary 4-2 in the final.

The Hungarians had reached the final by demolishing Sweden 5-1, despite conceding a goal after only 30 seconds. Italy captain Giuseppe Meazza was the star of the Italian team, while Brazil’s ‘black diamond’ Leonidas da Silva finished top-scorer with eight goals, including four in an astonishing 6-5 victory over Poland.