The Story of Politics and Italy in the 1934 World Cup

1930 – Italy: In the name of the motherland

·       Period:  from 13 to 30 July 1930.

·       Organizing Country: Italy

·       Host city: Milan, Rome, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Turin, Genoa, and Trieste

·       Participating teams: 32

·       Spectators per match (average):  363,000 (average 21,353)

·       Venues: 8

·       Cities: 8

·       Matches: 27

·       Total goals: 141 (5.22 per match)

·       Top scorer: Oldřich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia) with 5 goals.




In October 1932, the 21st FIFA Congress was held in Stockholm. It was there that the Italian delegates, led by Mr. Mauro, were given the job of putting on the 1934 World Cup.

This decision came after a very drawn-out process during which the executive committee of the International Federation of Association Football, FIFA, met a number of times. The decision was made by the executive committee behind closed doors, without consulting or polling the members of the committee. Benito Mussolini, also known as Il Duce, the dictator of Italy, personally assumed control of the organization. The decision to award the championship to Italy was made despite the fact that Sweden had also put in a bid to host the event. However, the Italian bid was selected.

The competition held in Uruguay four years ago was not even comparable to the scale of this one. Milan, Rome, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Turin, Genoa, and Trieste were the eight cities in Italy that played host to the tournament. In comparison, Montevideo was the only city in Uruguay to host the competition. Because they believed that their own international championship was far superior to the one that was going to be held in Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales made the decision not to take part in the competition.

Because the European nations did not travel to Uruguay for the previous World Cup, the defending champion, Uruguay, did not enter the competition. This was the only occasion in the entire history of the World Cup in which the defending champion chose to sit out the competition. The title of Italy’s national champion carried significant political overtones. Benito Mussolini used the World Cup as a platform to advertise his fascist regime to the rest of the world and to highlight Italy’s many achievements. Il Duce did not miss any of their matches. 

In the seventeen games that were played, a total of 3,600,000 lire was accumulated, which is approximately equivalent to 850 million dollars today. There was a net gain of one million lire in 1934, which is approximately equivalent to 240 million dollars today. The unexpected financial success can be attributed to a number of things, such as perfect federal organization, state aid in the form of transportation facilities, tax breaks, and almost free use of sports facilities. The political climate at the time was also a significant factor, especially since the fascist regime was able to keep things stable inside the country. 



For the very first time, the qualifying tournament for the World Cup was held for the very first time this year. Because the first World Cup was such a huge success, many more teams expressed interest in competing in the second tournament, which would be held in Italy. Because there were 32 countries that entered the competition, FIFA decided to hold qualifying rounds in order to narrow the field of contenders down to 16 teams.

The qualifying matches were organized according to geographic proximity to one another. It did not matter who was hosting the competition; Italy was required to qualify. The fact that the host nation did not receive automatic qualification for the World Cup was the first and only occurrence in the tournament’s history. After competing in the World Cup preliminary rounds, a total of 16 teams advanced to the championship round, which was played in Italy. The sixteen available spots were divided up across the continent:

·       Europe (UEFA): A total of 21 teams competed for 12 direct spots, including the Irish Free State.

·       South America (CONMEBOL): Four teams battled it out for the two available spots. As a result of Peru and Chile’s withdrawal, Brazil and Argentina were automatically qualified.

·       CONCACAF (Confederation of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean): four teams competed for one spot.

·       Asia (AFC) and Africa (CAF): Three teams competed for one available spot. Turkey withdraw.

On June 11, 1933, Sweden hosted the first World Cup qualifying match, which was played in Stockholm, and they ended up defeating Estonia by a score of 6-2. The United States, on the other hand, were the last team to qualify for the final stage. Since they had sent in their application too late, they were forced to play a one-off match against Mexico in Rome just three days before the start of the championship.

1934 World Cup squads


1934 World Cup squads 32 countries were interested, but only 16 of them would participate in this World Cup.

Europe was represented by: Italy, Romania, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Holland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland. All European countries except France, Belgium, and Romania qualified for the first time.

Unlike in the 1930 World Championship, the number of teams from Latin America was smaller. South America was represented by Brazil and Argentina. Both teams qualified automatically without playing a game, as Chile and Peru withdrew. Argentina took part in the competition with a team made up mostly of amateurs, due to the refusal of the clubs to concede the best elements to the “seleccion”. In fact, Argentine companies feared a new dispossession by Europeans, as had happened later, at the Amsterdam Olympics and the first World Cup. 


Brazil also sent a minor formation which included authentic champions such as Leonidas da Silva, the “black diamond”, and Waldemar da Brito, top scorer of the ’33 Paulista tournament and future discoverer of Pele. In those years, Brazilian football was embroiled in a rather fluid management situation. The Confederation (CBD), regularly affiliated with FIFA, was in constant war with the other associations following the splitting turmoil that mainly derived from the status of the players.

As a form of protest, Uruguay, which was going through the Great Depression, decided not to take part as a form of protest because many European countries didn’t take part in the last World Cup that was held in Uruguay.

The Home Nations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) also refused to travel to Italy. They considered the British Home Championship, to be the most important. Of the British world, the only free Ireland participated in the qualifiers but was eliminated by Belgium and the Netherlands.

The United States represented Central America and the Caribbean. However, they were forced to play a qualifier against Mexico in Italy 3 days before kickoff because the United States registered after the official deadline. The Mexican team returned to their country immediately after the defeat.

From Africa, Egypt qualified, which is the first African country to qualify for a World Cup. 


Format and seeding

 Since the first World Cup was held in 1930, the format of the competition has undergone several changes, including the elimination of the group stage in favor of a tournament that is solely comprised of knockout rounds (group play would be reintroduced again in 1950).

In the event that the match ends in a draw after the allotted amount of regular match time, an additional period of thirty minutes of extra time would be played. If, after extra time, the winner of the match could not be determined, a second match would be scheduled for the following day (penalty shoot-out was not introduced until 1978).

The 1934 World Cup started with eight matches being played at the same time. The two quarter-finals and the semi-final were also played at the same time.

The top teams were Germany, Argentina, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Brazil, and Italy, and it was decided not to face each other in the first round.


Match officials

 Throughout the course of the 17 matches that consists the World Cup, the application of the rules of the game was overseen by a total of 25 officials from 12 different nations and two different confederations.



 In this World Cup, eight stadiums from eight different cities were used, unlike the 1930 World Cup when only three stadiums were used.



This tournament format, in contrast to the one used in the first World Cup, consisted entirely of single-elimination rounds. Because there was no opening stage consisting of groups, the competition began directly with the knockout stage. The first round presented some information that is worthy of being noted. At precisely the same moment, each of the eight first-round matches got under way. Italy, the tournament’s hosts and heavy favorites, cruised to an easy 7-1 victory over the United States.

On the other hand, Argentina was defeated by Sweden by a score of 3-2 despite having internal disagreements and fielding a team that did not include any of the players who had competed in the final of the previous World Cup. In the first round, these were the two games that received the most attention. It was the only time in the history of the World Cup that all eight teams that advanced to the quarterfinals came from Europe.

The first unexpected occurrence took place in the quarter-finals. The top seed, Italy, was unable to defeat Spain in either regular time or extra time, and as a result, they had to play the game again the following day. Giuseppe Meazza scored the only goal of the rematch, which Italy won 1-0 thanks to his effort in the 12th minute. This was the first time in the history of the World Cup that a match was played more than once. In yet another thrilling contest in the quarterfinals, Czechoslovakia eliminated Switzerland from the competition by virtue of a 3-2 victory. Additionally, advancing to the subsequent stage are Germany and Austria.

On a pitch that was soaked from rain during the semi-final match, Italy prevailed over Austria with a score of 1-0. In the meantime, Czechoslovakia advanced to the championship match by claiming a 3–1 victory over Germany. Germany prevailed over Austria 2-1 in the match for third place, which took place three days before the championship match.

The multi-purpose Stadio Nazionale PNF in Rome played host to the 1934 FIFA World Cup Final, which was contested between the tournament’s hosts, Italy, and Czechoslovakia. The championship match was watched by a crowd of 55,000 people. After extra time, the score was 2-1 in favor of the home team. Up until the 80th minute of play, Czechoslovakia held a 1-0 lead in the game. Despite this, Argentine-born Raimundo Orsi scored a goal with nine minutes left in regulation to beat Czech goalkeeper Frantisek Planicka in the 81st minute, and another goal scored by Angelo Schiavio during extra time was sufficient for Italy to be crowned World Cup champions. The inaugural FIFA World Cup was won by Italy, making them the continent’s very first champions.



First round


27 May



27 May


3:2 a.e.t.

27 May



27 May



27 May



27 May



27 May

Italy-United States


27 May







31 May



31 May



31 May


1:1 a.e.t

31 May



01 June






03 June



03 June

Czechoslovakia- Germany


Third-place match        


07 June






10 June


2:1 a.e.t.


Unforgettable matches


First round

Spain-Brazil         3:1

Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, 21,000


Not all the main players of the Brazilian team traveled to Italy. This could be the reason for this loss. José Iraragorri (2x) and Isidro Lángara scored for Spain. Leônidas da Silva, who would shine at the next World Cup, scored the only goal for Brazil. The loss resulted in immediate elimination, and the team returned to Brazil after a brief stint in Italy.


Hungary – Egypt 4-2

Stadio Giorgio Ascarelli, Naples, 12,000

The first match from an African country. The first half ended 2-2. Both goals for Egypt were scored by striker Abdulrahman Fawzi. Pál Teleki and Geza Toldi scored two goals for Hungary in the first half. In the second half, Jeno Vincze scored the third goal for Hungary, and striker Geza Toldi scored his second goal and fourth for Hungary. Here ends the adventure of Egypt and Africa in this World Cup.  


Italy – Spain 1-1

Stadio Giovanni Berta, Florence, 45,000                 

The first match was very aggressive. Both Italian Mario Pizziolo, who broke his leg, and Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora were ruled out. The goals were scored by the Spaniard, Luis Regueiro, and the Italian, Giovanni Ferrari. The match was replayed again the next day in the same stadium. The match was decided by a goal from Giuseppe Meazza, who thus became the hero of the match.     


Italy – Czechoslovakia 2-1

Stadio Nazionale PNF, Roma, 45,000

Italy and Czechoslovakia were the finalists, and the match was played on June 10 at the Stadio Nazionale PNF in Rome, attended by 45,000 spectators. The first goal was scored by Czechoslovakian player Antonín Puč (71′). A few minutes before the end of the match, the Italian Raimundo Orsi equalizes the score by means of a free kick. During extra time, a quiet game took place, where in the 95th minute, Angelo Schiavio scored the winning goal for Italy. For the second time in a row, the host country would be declared champion.   

Interesting facts

  • Some players on the Italian team were of Italian descent but were born in Argentina, which sparked heated debate.
  • Italian Luis Monti represented Argentina in the 1930 World Cup, becoming the only player to appear in two World Cup finals (Argentina 1930 and Italy 1934).
  • Brazil’s only World Cup in which they did not win a single match.
  • FIFA President Jules Rimet declared that the 1934 World Cup did not belong to FIFA, but to fascism.
  • Following the final, another trophy, La Coppa del Duce, was created in honor of Mussolini, which was six times larger than the Jules Rimet trophy.
  • Matches were broadcast on the radio for the first time.

TOP 11

GK: Ricardo Zamora (Spain)                                           

DF:  Jacinto Quincoces (Spain)

MF: Luis Monti (Italy)

MF: Eraldo Monzeglio (Italy)

MF: Oldřich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia)

FW: Giuseppe Mezza (Italy)

FW: Attilio Ferraris (Italy)

FW: Leonardo Cilaurren (Spain)

FW: Raimundo Orsi (Italy)

FW: Enrique Guaita (Italy)

FW: Matthias Sindelar (Austria)