FIFA™ | United States of America, Canada & Mexico

World Cup Soccer: 1934 World Cup – Italy’s first one!

The 2026 World Cup Soccer has a magnificent history. In the long run-up to the final round in North America, we will also look back: like now on 1934. The 1934 World Cup was the second time that the global tournament had been staged, and the first time in Europe: in Italy. 36 teams applied to enter the tournament which meant that, for the first time, qualifying matches had to be played to whistle the field down to 16.

Also see: FIFA World Cup 1930

At the 1934 World Cup the defending champions, Uruguay, refused to participate, in retaliation for several European countries boycotting the event when they staged it four years earlier. And the four British nations – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – wanted nothing to do with the tournament, even though England and Scotland had been offered direct entry to the tournament.

Egypt became the first African nation to qualify for the finals. The World Cup of that year, though, apparently was as much a political as a sporting event. Moreover, like the Berlin Olympics two years later, the World Cup Soccer was used by a fascist dictatorship to showcase its power and policies. Benito Mussolini had seized power in Italy in 1922, and a football fan himself, he recognised the potential boost to the legitimacy and prestige of his government from hosting – and winning! – the tournament.

To that end, no turn was left unturned to make sure it happened. It began with the voting process for hosting rights. Sweden were the strong favourites to stage the event but then rumours emerged of illegal payments and intimidation by members of the Mussolini government against members of the voting committee. And when the Italian state offered to cover any losses in full, this European country was promptly awarded the tournament.

Having secured hosting rights the regime took full advantage with a blizzard of publicity, covering everything from posters to postage stamps, and with Italian streets and shops flooded with images of footballers and the fascist salute. Mussolini was even shown queuing for tickets for the opening game, and radio commentators were told to tell listeners about the full stadiums, even though grounds for some of the group games were only half-full. In contrast, by the way, to the packed stadiums later at the 2026 World Cup; see also information about the 2026 World Cup broadcast rights.

Italy progressed through the group stages easily, but then met Spain in a quarter-final noted for its brutality. Italian midfielder Mario Pizziolo suffered a broken leg, and a number of other players were badly injured. The match ended in a draw, and needed a replay, but so depleted were Spain after the first game, they had to change more than half their players.

Italy won the replay by a single goal. But the match was marred by a number of contentious refereeing decisions in their favour, including ruling out what appeared to be two perfectly good goals for Spain. The hosts then beat Austria 1-0 to reach the World Cup final. There was, however, more controversy in the other semi-final between Czechoslovakia and Germany, not least in the appointment of an Italian referee to take charge of the match. He was apparently under instruction to favour the Czechs as they potentially were easier finalists for Italy than the German side. Czechoslovakia won 3-1.

In the final in Rome, played before Mussolini and his entire government, the Czechs initially failed to read the script and took the lead early in the second half. They held on until the 81st minute when Italy equalised, and the match went to extra time. However, five minutes in, Italy scored again, and the victory was theirs. At the end, the triumph was celebrated as much by the man handing over the trophy as the players themselves.

This special tournament under special circumstances does, however, not alter the fact that Italy would also play, more than once, a fantastic role later in the World Cup Football history. To begin with in 1938, four years later already, followed in more recent history by new world titles in 1982 and 2006. More on that later!

By: Shantanugupta

Main Info

world cup football 2026 News


World Cup Football Qualifiers North America, Central America, Caribbean

Qualification North America, Central America, Caribbean

In North America, Central America and the Caribbean, the FIFA qualifiers run from March 18, 2024 to November 18, 2025. Six, seven or eight of the 32 participating CONCACAF nations qualify, joining hosts USA, Canada and Mexico.

World Cup Football Qualifiers South America

FIFA World Cup football Qualification South America

In South America, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers run from September 7, 2023 to September 9, 2025. A total of 10 CONMEBOL nations participate. Six to seven South American countries will qualify. There is one single round.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Europe

FIFA World Cup football qualification Europe

In Europe, the qualifiers run from March 17, 2025 to March 31, 2026. A total of 55 (of 54) UEFA nations participate. Sixteen European countries will qualify. There is one group stage (Round 1), followed by the European play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Asia

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Asia

In Asia, the World Cup qualification runs from October 12, 2023 to November, 2025. A total of 46 AFC nations participate. Eight or nine Asian countries will qualify. There are three qualifying rounds, before the play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Africa

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Africa

In Africa, the World Cup football qualifiers run from November 13, 2023 to November 18, 2025. A total of 54 CAF nations participate. Nine or ten African countries will qualify. There are two qualification rounds.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Oceania

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Oceania

In Oceania, the FIFA qualifiers for the World Cup football run from September, 2024 to March, 2025. Eleven OFC nations participate. One or two Oceanic countries qualify. There are three qualification rounds.


Host Cities USA

The 2026 American Dream: the United States is one of the three hosts of the FIFA World Cup Soccer in North America. The USA is the host country with the most - eleven - host cities.

Host Cities Canada

With Vancouver, and Toronto, Canada has two host cities for the world's football finals in North America in 2026. Get more information about the characteristics of these exciting and diverse, dynamic cities.

Host Cities Mexico

With Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico has three candidate host cities for the World Cup in 2026. Each host with its specific ambience, history, attractions, hotspots and other features.

Stadiums USA

The United States will have eleven stadiums for the FIFA 2026 World Cup. Click for more information about these fantastic and modern venues in the USA, and which matches they will host.

Stadiums Canada

During the 2026 World Cup finals, these are the two venues in Canada: BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, and BMO Field in Toronto. Find out more about these attractive Canadian stadiums.

Stadiums Mexico

In Mexico, the FIFA 2026 World Cup will take place in these stadiums: Estadio Akron in Guadalajara, the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and the BBVA Bancomer Stadium in Monterrey.