World Cup Tales

The World Cup is, of course, one of football’s most storied tournaments, so in the build-up to the 2010 finals in Brazil we decided to tell a story from each tournament, whether focusing on something narrow or a broader story relating to it.

World Cup Tales: Eleven Goals In Strasbourg, 1938

As the entrants lined up for the 1938 World Cup finals in France, storm clouds were building up the horizon, and the tournament itself wasn't exempt from such global concerns. Three months prior to the start of it, German tanks had marched into Austria, annexing the...

World Cup Tales: Did Il Duce Fix It? Italy, 1934

When Joao Havelange claimed, in 2008, that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were fixed, his claims were largely laughed out of court. Depending on who you listened to, he was either deliberately misconstruing events or demonstrating little more than the first signs of...

World Cup Tales: The Creation Of A Design Classic, 1970

It is one of the curious anomalies of our game that when we close our eyes and think of a football we tend to think of a specific type of football and, moreover, that the type of football that we are likely to think of is a specific type of ball which hasn't been...

World Cup Tales: Reflections Upon England In Italy, 1990

The concept of England having a high level of expectation at the time of a World Cup finals is a comparatively recent one. As recently as 1990, most adults could remember their two successive failures to qualify for the whole event and, once there, they only seldom...

World Cup Tales: Boycott! When Africa & Asia Said “Enough”, 1966

In England at least, the 1966 World Cup finals have been mythologised. To an extent, they have started to become the footballing equivalent of Arthurian legend - a set of values of Englishness that we either subscribe to or not. This is a shame, because the 1966 World...

World Cup Tales: The Murder Of A Footballer, 1994

In amongst the razzamatazz of the 1994 World Cup, which kicked off with Diana Ross putting a penalty kick wide of the goal during the opening ceremony and finished with Roberto Baggio putting one over in a penalty shoot-out that seemed pre-ordained to follow a...

World Cup Tales: The Story Of The First World Cup, 1930

It should come as no great surprise to any seasoned FIFA watchers that the entire history of the organisation has been about its politicking, and still less that this has frequently extended itself into the hosting of its showpiece tournament, the World Cup. When we...

World Cup Tales – Overcoming The Great Humiliation: Brazil, 1958

As the second favourites to win the 2010 World Cup after Spain, Brazil are used to the pressure that comes with the eyes of the world being upon them. No other country on earth's identity is so closely associated with football, yet much of the mythology that surrounds...

World Cup Tales: The Battle Of Santiago, 1962

We hear a lot about the decline and fall of western civilization these days, but moral outrage at the behaviour of footballers is nothing new and, indeed, players at the World Cup finals this summer will have to go a long way to outdo the most serious incidents of...

World Cup Tales: When The Two Germanies Collided, 1974

The Cold War spread insiduously into every aspect of life between the end of the second world war and the end of the 1980s, and sport was no exception to this rule, whether it was the Soviets and Americans boycotting each others' Olympic Games or Bobby Fischer facing...

World Cup Tales: Colombia 1986 – The World Cup That Never Was

The upcoming World Cup will the first to take place in the entire continent of Africa but there are several countries that have already held the tournament more that once, such as Italy, France and Germany. The first team to earn the honour of hosting the World Cup...

World Cup Tales: The Shame Of Gijon, 1982

Algeria make their first appearance in the World Cup finals since 1986 this year, and if they are looking for any more encouragement to perform than the prospect of playing on the world's biggest stage, then the sense of injustice at their previous treatment by the...

World Cup Tales: The Miracle Of Belo Horizonte, 1950

When the draw for the 2010 World Cup finals was made in December of last year, the British press went into a depressingly familiar mode in their dismissal of their opposition, the irony of which was all the more striking for those - and it has to be said that they may...

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