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1938 FIFA World Cup
Coupe du Monde 1938

1938 FIFA World Cup official poster
Tournament details
Host country  France
Dates 4 June – 19 June
Teams 15 (from 4 confederations)
Venue(s) 10 (in 10 host cities)
Final positions
Champions  Italy (2nd title)
Runner-up  Hungary
Third place  Brazil
Fourth place  Sweden
Tournament statistics
Matches played 18
Goals scored 84 (4.67 per match)
Attendance 483,000 (26,833 per match)
Top scorer(s) Brazil Leônidas (7 goals)

The 1938 FIFA World Cup was the third staging of the World Cup, and was held in France from 4 June to 19 June. France was chosen as hosts by FIFA in August 1936. Italy retained the championship, beating Hungary 4–2 in the final.



Qualifying countries

FIFA's decision during the celebration of the 1936 Summer Olympics to hold the tournament in France 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. As a result neither Uruguay nor Argentina entered the competition. Spain became the first country to be out of the World Cup because of a war (the 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 until 2006 when this was abolished.

Originally 16 nations were going to take part. Austria had qualified but after the Anschluss to Germany in March, they withdrew, leaving 15 teams to take part. FIFA did not offer a place in the finals to the runner-up of the qualification group that Austria played in, Latvia.


The tournament was again held in a knockout format, similar to 1934. This was the last tournament where there was not a group stage.

Germany, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Cuba and Brazil were seeded for draw taking place in Paris, on 5 March 1938.[1]

Five of the first round matches required extra time to break the deadlock; two games still went to a replay. The replays saw Switzerland oust the team of Germany, to which some Austrian players had been added for political reasons, with a score of 4-2, while Cuba managed to advance to the next round at the expense of Romania.

Sweden advanced directly to the quarter-finals due to Austria's withdrawal, and they proceeded to beat Cuba 8-0. The hosts, France, were beaten by the holders, Italy (wearing a provocative all-black 'fascist' strip), 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.

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.

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.

Some argued that Hungary - or at least its goalkeeper - allowed Italy to win, as a measure to save the lives of the Italian Team, which had received telegrams by Benito Mussolini with "Vincere o morire!" (mistranslated as "Win or die") written on them. Hungarian goalkeeper Antal Szabó expressed his relief following his side's defeat against Italy despite letting in four goals in the loss. Referring to Mussolini's pre-match threats, Szabó quipped "I may have let in four goals, but at least I saved their lives". Actually, this is not the case. "Win or die" was a typical slogan of encouragement from fascist era, meaning "Victory or bust!" or "do your best to get victory". The fascist regime held sporting heroes and champions in high regard, greatly using them in their propaganda machine, so an act like the one suggested by Szabó was not realistic. Szabó's words may have been perhaps an honest misunderstanding.[2]

Due to 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.[3]


Ten cities hosted the tournament:


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 - Paris            
  France  3
12 June - Paris
  Belgium  1  
  France  1
5 June - Marseille
    Italy  3  
  Italy (a.e.t.)  2
16 June - Marseille
  Norway  1  
  Italy  2
5 June - Strasbourg
    Brazil  1  
  Brazil (a.e.t.)  6
12 June – Bordeaux
(replayed 14 June)
  Poland  5  
  Brazil  1 (2)
5 June - Le Havre
    Czechoslovakia  1 (1)  
  Czechoslovakia (a.e.t.)  3
19 June – Paris
  Netherlands  0  
  Italy  4
4 June - Paris
(replayed 9 June)
    Hungary  2
  Germany  1 (2)
12 June - Lille
  Switzerland  1 (4)  
  Switzerland  0
5 June - Reims
    Hungary  2  
  Hungary  6
16 June – Paris
  Dutch East Indies  0  
  Hungary  5
5 June - Lyon
    Sweden  1   Third place
  Sweden  w/o
12 June - Antibes 19 June - Bordeaux
  Austria[4]  —  
  Sweden  8   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
Germany  1 – 1
 Switzerland Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: ~30,000
Referee: John Langenus (Belgium)
Gauchel Goal 29' Report Abegglen Goal 43'

5 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Hungary  6 – 0  Dutch East Indies Vélodrome Municipal, Reims
Attendance: ~8,000
Referee: Roger Conrié (France)
Kohut Goal 14'
Toldi Goal 16'
Sárosi Goal 25'88'
Zsengellér Goal 30'67'

5 June 1938
Sweden  w/o  Austria Stade Gerland, Lyon
withdrew [4]

5 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Cuba  3 – 3
 Romania Stade Chapou, Toulouse
Attendance: ~6,000
Referee: Giuseppe Scarpi (Italy)
SocorroGoal 44'
FernándezGoal 87'
Tuñas Goal 117'
Report Bindea Goal 35'
Baratky Goal 88'
Dobay Goal 105'

5 June 1938
17:00 WEST
France  3 – 1  Belgium Stade Olympique de Colombes, Paris
Attendance: ~32,000
Referee: Hans Wüthrich (Switzerland)
Veinante Goal 1'
Nicolas Goal 16'69'
Report Isemborghs Goal 38'

5 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Italy  2 – 1
 Norway Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Attendance: ~18,000
Referee: Alois Beranek(1) (Germany)
Ferraris Goal 2'
Piola Goal 94'
Report Brustad Goal 83'

5 June 1938
17:30 WEST
Brazil  6 – 5
 Poland Stade de la Meinau, Strasbourg
Attendance: ~16,000
Referee: Ivan Eklind (Sweden)
Leônidas Goal 18'93'104'
Romeu Goal 25'
Perácio Goal 44'71'
Report Scherfke Goal 23' (pen.)
Wilimowski Goal 53'59'89'118'

5 June 1938
18:30 WEST
Czechoslovakia  3 – 0
 Netherlands Stade Cavée Verte, Le Havre
Attendance: ?
Referee: Lucien Leclerq (France)
Košťálek Goal 93'
Nejedlý Goal 111'[5]
Zeman Goal 118'[6]


9 June 1938
18:00 WEST
Germany  2 – 4  Switzerland Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: ~22,000
Referee: Ivan Eklind (Sweden)
Hahnemann Goal 8'
Lörtscher Goal 22' (o.g.)
Report Walaschek Goal 42'
Bickel Goal 64'
Abegglen Goal 75'78'

9 June 1938
18:00 WEST
Cuba  2 – 1  Romania Stade Chapou, Toulouse
Attendance: ~5,000
Referee: Alfred Birlem (Germany)
Socorro Goal 51'
Oliveira Goal 57'
Report Dobay Goal 35'


12 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Switzerland  0 – 2  Hungary Stade Victor Boucquey, Lille
Attendance: ~14,000
Referee: Rinaldo Barlassina (Italy)
Report Sárosi Goal 40'
Zsengellér Goal 89'[7]

12 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Sweden  8 – 0  Cuba Stade du Fort Carré, Antibes
Attendance: ~6,000
Referee: Augustin Krist (Czechoslovakia)
Keller Goal 9'80'81'[8][9][10]
Wetterström Goal 32'37'44'[11]
Nyberg Goal 84'
Andersson Goal 90'[12]

12 June 1938
17:00 WEST
France  1 – 3  Italy Stade Olympique de Colombes, Paris
Attendance: ~58,000
Referee: Luis Baert (Belgium)
Heisserer Goal 10' Report Colaussi Goal 9'
Piola Goal 51'72'

12 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Brazil  1 – 1
 Czechoslovakia Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
Attendance: ~25,000
Referee: Pal von Hertzka (Hungary)
Leônidas Goal 30' Report Nejedlý Goal 65' (pen.)


14 June 1938
18:00 WEST
Brazil  2 – 1  Czechoslovakia Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
Attendance: ~20,000
Referee: George Capdeville (France)
Leônidas Goal 57'
Roberto Goal 62'[13]
Report Kopecký Goal 25'


16 June 1938
18:00 WEST
Hungary  5 – 1  Sweden Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: ~22,000
Referee: Lucien Leclerq (France)
Zsengellér Goal 19'39'85'
Titkos Goal 37'
Sárosi Goal 65'
Report Nyberg Goal 1'

16 June 1938
18:00 WEST
Italy  2 – 1  Brazil Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Attendance: ~30,000
Referee: Hans Wüthrich (Switzerland)
Colaussi Goal 55'
Meazza Goal 60' (pen.)
Report Romeu Goal 87'

Third place match

19 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Sweden  2 – 4  Brazil Parc Lescure, Bordeaux
Attendance: ~20,000
Referee: John Langenus (Belgium)
Jonasson Goal 28'
Nyberg Goal 38'
Report Romeu Goal 44'
Leônidas Goal 63'74'
Perácio Goal 80'


19 June 1938
17:00 WEST
Hungary  2 – 4  Italy Stade Olympique de Colombes, Paris
Attendance: ~60,000
Referee: George Capdeville (France)
Titkos Goal 8'
Sárosi Goal 70'
Report Colaussi Goal 6'35'
Piola Goal 16'82'[14]


 1938 FIFA World Cup Winners 

Second title


7 goals

6 goals

5 goals

4 goals

3 goals

2 goals

Own goals

1 goal


  1. ^ History of the World Cup Final Draw
  2. ^ On this date in 1938, the most ominous of World Cup soccer games ever was played [...] The Italian team received a telegram from dictator Benito Mussolini reading simply, "Vincere o morire". The world, including Hungarian goalie Antal Szabó (ph), was told of the simple, terrifying translation, "Win or die". Hungary lost to Italy that day. Some say they lost deliberately, 4 to 1. "I may have let in four goals," said the net minder Szabó, "but at least I saved their lives." Only problem, "Vincere o morire," translated literally as "win or die", in Italian sports vernacular, however, it simply meant, “"Give it your all, guys." Oops. (Keith Olbermann, 19 june 2006) [1]
  3. ^ Jules Rimet Cup
  4. ^ a b Austria unable to compete because of the Austrian Anschluss in March 1938, so Sweden advanced automatically
  5. ^ RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 118th minute.
  6. ^ RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 111th minute.
  7. ^ RSSSF credits this goal as coming in the 90th minute.
  8. ^ RSSSF credits the goal in the 9th minute to Harry Andersson
  9. ^ RSSSF credits goal in the 80th minute as coming in the 60th minute.
  10. ^ RSSSF credits goal in the 81st minute to Harry Andersson in the 61st minute.
  11. ^ RSSSF credits the goal in the 32nd minute as coming in the 22nd 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. [2]
  14. ^ RSSSF credits the goal in the 82nd minute as coming in the 85th minute.

See also

External links

Simple English

The 1938 FIFA World Cup was a football (soccer) sporting event that was held in France in 1938. Italy won the trophy after beating Hungary in the final.





North and Central America

South America


Round of 16



3rd place


Italy won the championship.



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