From: (Garry Archer)
Subject: Oddities of the 1950 World Cup
Summary: (Or why you _really_ read
Organization: 3M Health Information Systems, Wallingford CT
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 00:08:24 GMT

        The Strange But True Facts of the 1950 World Cup
        ================================================ writes:
>Just to set thew record straight Turkey did qualify for another world cup
>(1958 i think!?), but the funds were not there to send them there ...!

It was 1950 when Turkey withdrew from the World Cup finals after
qualifying.  Their _only_ qualification match was a 7-0 victory
over Syria.  Is this a record for the least number of World Cup
qualification games to get to the Finals, I wonder?  (Not counting
zero for hosts and holders.)  The answer is below.

Interestingly, France, earlier eliminated by Yugoslavia in a play-off match
in Italy, had agreed to take their place but they eventually withdrew when
they realised how unfairly the competition had been organised.

It may have been one of the most disorganised, but storied, World
Cups ever.  It followed the Second World War by only four or five short
years and yet many former enemies of war were about to be thrown back into
the melting pot together again.  Naturally, there was some decent.

The 1950 World Cup was surrounded in controversy.

Scotland steadfastly refused to qualify unless it was as British
Home International Champions.  Scotland finished in second place to
England and did not budge from their promise.  Portugal where invited
to take Scotland's place, but refused!

In World Cup Qualification Group 7 Argentina, still at loggerheads with
Brasil, withdrew, as they did in 1938.  Bolivia and Chile qualified
automatically without playing!  And so this answers my earlier question...

Nor were Bolivia and Chile the only ones to qualify without playing.
Ecuador and Peru also withdrew leaving the door wide open for Uruguay and
Paraguay to qualify automatically from World Cup Qualification Group 8.

In fact _no_ South American team that finally qualified played one single
qualifying match to get to the 1950 World Cup Finals!  Amazing, but true.

In World Cup Qualification Group 10 Burma and India were drawn against
each other and neither qualified!  Burma forfeited and India withdrew
suddenly for financial reasons.  Is this the only time a World Cup
Qualification Group has not provided a qualifier for the next stage
at all?

Czechoslovakia, understrength after the ravages of war, pulled out amidst
a welter of recriminations.

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, West Germany, Indonesia
and the Phillipines all withdrew without even participating.  Some declined
because they disagreed with FIFA's decision to award the games once again
to South America despite the Finals having been previously held in Uruguay
in 1930, Italy in 1934 and France in 1938.

Many other European countries were also depleted by the war and only
England, Italy, Spain, Olympic Champions Sweden, Switzerland and
Yugoslavia made the trip.  Only 13 teams in total participated in the

Much credit must be given to Italy for participating.  They were sadly
understrength after the Superga air crash the previous year, in which
the superb Torino team were annihilated.  But a great deal of pride was
on the line.  Italy won the two previous World Cups in 1934 and 1938
and were double-defending Champions, so to speak.  Brave Italy were
eliminated in the Finals by virtue of a 3-2 loss to Sweden in front of
a hugely partizan Italo-Brasilian crowd.  Italy's 2-0 victory over
Paraguay would not be enough.  A unique attempt at being triple or
back-to-back-to-back World Cup Champions was lost in the effort.

Olympic Champions Sweden qualified by winning both of their games in World
Cup Qualification Group 5, but they didn't defeat Finland!  In a strange
group of three teams, Sweden, Ireland and Finland, Sweden qualified by
virtue of only playing and defeating Ireland twice!  Ireland played all
four of their games, drawing and defeating Finland.  For whatever reason
Sweden and Finland didn't play despite mathematical odds that the Finns
could still qualify!

Sweden were managed by an Englishman, George Raynor, and would eventually
finish in 3rd Place after a 3-1 victory over Spain.

The Finalists were:

        Pool 1: Brasil, Mexico, Switzerland and Yugoslavia
        Pool 2: Chile, England, Spain and USA
        Pool 3: Italy, Paraguay and Sweden
        Pool 4: Bolivia and Uruguay

Much controversy was generated by the organisation of the Finals.
Hosts Brasil played five of their six games in Rio, whereas the other
teams were forced to travel thousands of miles to stage their games
in various parts of the country.

Additionally the competition was arranged in a ludicrous manner, with
two groups of four, one of three and one of only two leading to a final
pool of four teams.  Extraordinarily there was not even a World Cup Final
game.  Ironically, the last group game in the final pool provided a
superb "final" in all but name.

Pool 4, with only two teams, provided only one match.  Uruguay defeated
Bolivia 8-0.  While Bolivia would not play in the World Cup Finals
again until USA 1994, Uruguay qualified for the final pool having
played only one game --- including qualifying matches...  surely,
a record?

One of the greatest upsets of all time occurred in the Finals when
the United States defeated England 1-0 on an arid, bumpy pitch in a
ramshackle stadium at Belo Horizonte.  The only goal came from a naturalised
Haitian immigrant from New York by the name of Larry Gaetjens.  He beat
England 'keeper Williams with a header in the 37th minute after England
had virtually camped out all around the US penalty area most of the game.
When the press wired the "United States 1, England 0" score back to
England it was assumed by the receivers that a digit was missing and
the score was first reported as "United States 1, England 10" instead.
While the world's press were having a field day the English fans at home
were shocked into disbelief.

As if to make a poorly organised World Cup completely disorganised,
not even heavily favoured Brasil could win the World Cup in front
of their home fans (attendance: 199,854 - the highest ever) on their
home turf in the mighty Maracana stadium.  Waning football power
Uruguay provided the humiliating upset, defeating Brasil 2-1 in the
final pool decider.

In Montevideo, eight deaths by heart attack were attributed to the
extraordinary news.

In fact, Uruguay won the 1950 World Cup after playing only _four_
matches from qualifying and Finals combined!  P4  W3  D1  L0  F15  A5

Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction!

Subject: Re: "Strange" results in WC history?
From: (Karel Stokkermans)
Date: June 24, 1997 (Bruce Scott TOK ) writes:
> Garry,
> In your excellent post you didn't mention how the US got into the 1950
> World Cup.  Were we invited or did we qualify?

Group 9 [Mexico, USA]
USA              0-6 Mexico             1.MEXICO           4  4  0  0  17- 2  8
Mexico           6-2 USA                2.USA              4  1  1  2   8-15  3
Cuba             1-1 USA                3.Cuba             4  0  1  3   3-11  1
USA              5-2 Cuba
Cuba             0-3 Mexico
Mexico           2-0 Cuba

Courtesy of the RSSSF archive :-).
[Must be one of the worst records for a qualifying country ever but I'm
not going to check ;-).]