The 6th Edition - Sweden 1958
The 1958 FIFA World Cup, the sixth staging of the World Cup, was hosted by Sweden from 8 to 29 June. The tournament was won by Brazil, who beat Sweden 5–2 in the final for their first title. To date, this marks the only occasion that a World Cup staged in Europe was not won by a European team.
Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Sweden expressed interest in hosting the tournament. Swedish delegates lobbied other countries at the FIFA Congress held in Rio de Janeiro around the opening of the 1950 World Cup finals. Sweden was awarded the 1958 tournament unopposed on 23 June 1950.
The hosts (Sweden) and the defending champions (West Germany) qualified automatically. Of the remaining 14 places, 9 were allocated to Europe, 3 to South America, one to North/Central America, and one to Asia/Africa.
This World Cup saw the entry and qualification of the Soviet Union for the first time, and the only qualification of all the United Kingdom's Home Nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Aside from the main European zone matches, Wales, which finished second in its group behind Czechoslovakia, was drawn into a play-off with Israel after Israel won its group by default because its three opponents, Turkey, Indonesia and Sudan, refused to play. FIFA had imposed a rule that no team would qualify without playing at least one match, something that had happened in several previous World Cups. Wales won the play-off and qualified.
On 8 February 1958, in Solna, Lennart Hyland and Sven Jerring presented the results of the draw where the qualified teams were divided into four groups. Seeding was geographical rather than by team strength, with each group containing one western European team, one eastern European team, one of the four British teams that had qualified, and one from the Americas.
This tournament saw the first, and, as of 2014, the only, appearance of Wales at a World Cup finals, and the only time that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have qualified for the same tournament. It also marked the debuts of the Soviet Union and Northern Ireland. Argentina appeared for the first time since 1934. This would be Paraguay's last finals appearance until 1986, Northern Ireland's last until 1982, and Austria's last until 1978.
This FIFA World Cup finals remains the only occasion on which Italy failed to qualify (Italy did not take part in the 1930 tournament but there was no qualification for that competition). Other teams that failed to qualify were Uruguay, Spain and Belgium.
The format of the competition changed from 1954: 16 teams still competed in four groups of four, but this time each team played each of the other teams in its group at least once, without extra time in the event of a draw. Two points were awarded for a win and one point for a draw. As in 1954, if the second and third placed teams finished on the same points, then there would be a play-off with the winner going through. If a play-off resulted in a draw, then goal average from the group games would have been used to determine who went through to the next round. If the goal averages were equal then lots would have been drawn. If the first two teams finished on equal points then goal average would decide who was placed first and second. These arrangements had not been finalised by the time the tournament started and were still being debated as it progressed. Some teams complained that a play-off match, meaning three games in five days, was too much, and before the second round of group matches FIFA informed the teams that goal average would be used before resorting to a play-off. This was overturned when the Swedish Football Association complained, ostensibly that it was wrong to change the rules mid-tournament, but also because it wanted the extra revenue from playoff matches
This was the first time that goal average was available to separate teams in a World Cup, although in the event it was not used to eliminate any teams: all three playoffs finished with decisive results.
Almost all the matches kicked off simultaneously in each of the three rounds of the group phase, as did the quarter-finals and semi-finals. The exceptions were Sweden's three group matches, all of which were televised by Sveriges Television; these started at other times so Swedes could attend other matches without missing their own team's. Apart from these, one match per round was televised, and relayed across Europe by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Many Swedes bought their first television for the World Cup. France and Germany successfully lobbied the EBU to have their semi-final televised rather than Sweden's, arguing from the greater potential audience. The Sweden–Brazil match was live only on radio, and many Swedes brought transistor radios to the France–Germany match.
The official ball was the "Top Star" model made by Sydsvenska Läder och Remfabriken (aka "Remmen" or "Sydläder") in Ängelholm. It was chosen from 102 candidates in a blind test by four FIFA officials.
In Group 4, Pelé did not play until the last of Brazil's group games, against the Soviet Union. He failed to score, but Brazil won the game 2–0 (much thanks to an impressive exhibition of dribbling prowess by his partner Garrincha) and the group by two points. Previously, they had drawn 0–0 with England in what was the first ever goalless game in World Cup history. Eventually, the Soviet Union and England went to a playoff game, in which Anatoli Ilyin scored in the 67th minute to knock England out, while Austria had already been eliminated. The English side had been weakened by the Munich Air Disaster which killed 3 internationals on the books o fManchester United, including England's young star Duncan Edwards.
Playoffs were also needed in Group 1 (Northern Ireland beat Czechoslovakia to join the defending champions West Germany in the quarter-finals) and Group 3 (Wales topped Hungary to advance with hosts Sweden). Hungary had become a spent force after their appearance in the final of the previous tournament. They had lost their best players two years before, when they fled in the wake of the failed uprising against the communist regime. In a rather restrictive sense, from the 1954 team, only goalkeeper Gyula Grosics, defender Jozsef Bozsik and forward Nándor Hidegkuti remained.
In Group 2, Scotland faced Yugoslavia, Paraguay, and France. France topped the group, with Just Fontaine netting six goals. Yugoslavia finished second, while Scotland came in last.
The quarter-finals saw France's Just Fontaine continue in similar form to the group stage, managing another two goals as France triumphed over Northern Ireland. West Germany's Helmut Rahn put them into the semi-finals with a single goal against Yugoslavia, while Sweden went though at the expense of USSR. The other game in the quarter-finals saw Pelé score the only goal against Wales.
In the semi-finals, Sweden continued their strong run as they defeated West Germany 3–1 in a vicious game that saw the German player Erich Juskowiak sent off (the first ever German player to be sent off in an international game) and German team captain Fritz Walter injured, which further weakened the German team (substitutes were first allowed in the 1970 FIFA World Cup).
While another goal from Fontaine of France added to his impressive tally, it was not enough to prevent Brazil thundering into the Final as a Pelé hat-trick gave them a 5–2 victory. The French were effectively down to ten men from the 30th minute onwards when their most experienced defender and captain Robert Jonquet got incapacitated after a clash with Vavá. The third place match saw Fontaine score four more goals as France defeated Germany 6-3. This brought his total to 13 goals in one competition, a record that still stands.
The final was played in Solna, in the Råsunda Stadium; 50,000 people watched as the Brazilians went a goal down after four minutes. However Vavá equalised shortly afterwards and then put them a goal ahead before half time. In the second half Pelé outshone everyone, notching up two goals, including the first one where he lobbed the ball over Bengt Gustavsson then followed it with a precise volley shot. Zagallo added a goal in between, and Sweden managed a consolation goal.
The Final holds many records in World Cup history. Pelé became the youngest player to play a World Cup Finals, the youngest scorer in a World Cup Final and the youngest player to win a World Cup Winner's Medal. Nils Liedholm became the oldest player to score in a World Cup Final (35 years, 263 Days). This final had the highest number of goals scored by a winning team (5), the highest number of total goals scored (7); together with the World Cup finals in 1970 and 1998, it also had the greatest victory margin (3).
The game is also notable for the first and only appearance of Sweden in a World Cup Final, and for the first Brazilian win of a World Cup Final.