The 1934 FIFA World Cup is the second edition of the world's most prestigious football tournament. Italy was the host nation of football extravaganza, and it took place from 27 May to 10 June 1934.
There were several factors that made the second edition of the tournament quite notable and even controversial at the time.
Defending champions Uruguay refused to take part in the tournament as only 4 European teams had accepted their invitation to the 1930 tournament.
The 1934 tournament was also the very first to hold qualification matches for teams to enter the competition. Thirty-two nations entered the competition, and 16 teams would ultimately qualify for the final tournament.
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Let us now look back at the 1934 World Cup in detail.
In addition to Uruguay's boycott from the tournament, The British Home Nations also refused to take part in the World Cup. This was mainly due to their self-imposed exile from FIFA at the time, even though FIFA had offered England and Scotland direct entry to the tournament without qualification.
The World Cup was also the very first to have its host nation go through the qualifying stages, as Italy were not granted a direct entry into the tournament.
Withdrawals from South American countries Chile and Peru also led to direct qualification for both Brazil and Argentina.
In total, Twelve of the 16 places were allocated to Europe, three to the Americas, and one to Africa or Asia.
List of qualified teams
The following 16 teams qualified for the final tournament.
· Austria (debut)
· Czechoslovakia (debut)
· Egypt (debut)
· Germany (debut)
· Hungary (debut)
· Italy (hosts)
· Netherlands (debut)
· Spain (debut)
· Sweden (debut)
· Switzerland (debut)
· United States
Egypt's participation saw them make history as the first African side to play in the World Cup.
World Cup summary
All eight first-round matches took place simultaneously. Hosts Italy destroyed the USA 7-1, establishing themselves as strong favorites in the tournament.
Internal disputes led to Argentina bringing in an amateur squad for the tournament, as off-field controversies saw the absence of every single member that reached 1930 final. The plan backfired however, as Sweden made 3-2 comeback to knock out the South Americans.
Fellow South Americans crashed out of the Cup as well, losing to Spain 3-1.
As the tournament approached towards the quarter-finals, the last 8 only consisted of European teams (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland). It was the only time in World Cup history that such an instance Occurred.
The quarter-finals also saw the very first match to be replayed in World Cup history, as Italy drew to Spain 1-1 after extra time. It was quite an aggressive match between both sides, resulting in injuries for several players. Italy had the final laugh, winning the replay 1-0. Austria were the next victims of Italy, as they won the semis with yet another 1-0 scoreline.
Czechoslovakia were Italy's opponents in the final battle, as they overcame the likes of Romania, Switzerland, and Germany.
Italy's Stadium of the National Fascist Party became venue to the final. A major shock was on the cards, as Czechoslovakia lead 1-0 till the 80th minute. The Italians however managed to score before the final whistle and then added another goal in extra time. A magnificent comeback was complete, and Italy became World Champions.
As the years passed, several reports have stated the 1934 World Cup to be marred with bribery and corruption. Many saw the tournament as a propaganda tool used by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to promote fascism.
The Italian media in general however, dismisses those links and hailed the Italian side as one of the greatest in history. Despite the controversies, Italy continued their golden run in international football at the time. Italy's World Cup triumph was followed by an Olympics football tournament Victory in 1936 and another World Cup win in France.
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