World Cup 1958


Winners Brazil
Teams 16
Host Sweden
Teams in qualifiers 45
Notable absentees Italy, Uruguay
Surprises Wales, Northern Ireland
Golden Boot Just Fontaine (France) - 13
Stats A total of 126 goals were scored (3.60 per match); France (23) scored the most
Format Four groups of four, with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals
Number of matches 35

Innovations
• If teams tied for second and third in the group stages, there would be a replay
• A record of 12 cities hosted matches

Controversies
• Israel qualified because teams refused to play them, but FIFA intervened and insisted they play at least once in order to progress to the finals. Wales, non-qualified runners-up in their UEFA group, were chosen and won 2-0 home and away to qualify instead
• Turkey withdrew from qualifying after refusing to be included in the Asian group
• Only 2,823 spectators watched the play-off game between Hungary and Wales. People boycotted the match to show sympathy with Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister of Hungary at the time of the Russian invasion in 1956, who had been executed the previous day. The official attendance, which FIFA still endorses, was 20,000
• The semi-final between Sweden and West Germany was almost abandoned because the president of the German football association threatened to withdraw his team unless the Swedes stopped refusing to seat some of the German fans. The organisers relented

Trivia
• Brazil's Pelé was 17 when he played in the final, the youngest person to do so
• Just Fontaine, who scored 13 goals for France, remains the record holder for one tournament
• The Northern Irish FA told their squad that it was against Irish law to play two of their first-round matches on a Sunday. After player protests, the FA relented
• Hungary only retained three players from their 1954 final squad, many of the others choosing to flee the country after the Russian invasion of 1956
• This was the only occasion all four UK 'home nations' qualified together
• Argentina, who finished bottom of their group, were pelted with rubbish on their return home to Buenos Aires

Source: FIFA, ESPN, AllSports & Getty

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