In a ritual that has historically sparked popular speculation and fantasy, the fates of the teams attending the Qatar World Cup will be determined in front of the entire world. Before anticipating the largest sports event in the world, it’s worthwhile that we examine some beliefs that have permeated popular culture and research the myths and their true realities surrounding the FIFA World Cup, both in the past and the present.
There have been a large number of unfounded or only partially true stories throughout history. Amazingly, because they are perpetuated by a media that is ignorant of what actually occurred, all of these misconceptions are still prevalent in the twenty-first century. You’ll notice that these made-up tales are drawn from a variety of historical periods, proving that it is still possible to deceive a large number of people nowadays. To shed some light on these claims, below are the 10 biggest myths surrounding the FIFA World Cup you may not have known existed, along with their stories.
#10 The United States undoubtedly won the third place in the 1930 FIFA World Cup
The 1930 FIFA World Cup remains the most prosperous for US Soccer. The team competed in that year’s semifinals before falling to Argentina 6-1. The other match, which Uruguay won over Yugoslavia by the same score, did not serve as the official third-place decider. Because of this, it was frequently unclear who finished third, and to be honest, we’re not certain it was the US national team.
According to FIFA, there was a third-place match in 1984 that Yugoslavia won 3-1. Even still, there were still rumors that this game was a hoax. As a result of their loss to the eventual champions, Uruguay, Yugoslavia was officially rated third, which was another point in their favor. The USA was placed third by FIFA only much later, thanks to a higher goal differential. We found it interesting that both teams were awarded bronze medals, therefore they tied for third place. You see, anyone can succeed!
#9 South Korea won two fixed matches in the 2002 FIFA World Cup
Due to numerous issues, the 2002 FIFA World Cup has already been dubbed the worst in history. Despite the passage of time, nobody has forgotten some of the worst referees ever. Naturally, we’re referring to South Korea, which eliminated Spain and Italy after two egregious matches. However, many people have forgotten about another dubious South Korean game.
South Korea’s final encounter in the group stage was against Portugal; if they lost, they would likely be eliminated. Even though South Korea played exceedingly hard, only the Portuguese player Joao Pinto was sent out after 30 minutes, but they were still unable to score. Beto was unexpectedly dismissed from the game in the 66th minute, leaving Portugal with just nine players. South Korea only managed to win by one goal after that. In spite of this, this doesn’t even seem like a big thing following their games against Italy and Spain.
#8 Brazil and Uruguay played the final of the 1950 FIFA World Cup
Even before it started, the first FIFA World Cup following World War II was an odd event! One of the groups only had two teams instead of four due to the fact that many nations qualified and then gave up! This meant that for Uruguay to advance to the top four teams, they just needed to win one game against Bolivia, which was no big deal. Although few people are aware of this, everyone is aware that in front of 200,000 spectators, Uruguay defeated the host Brazil in the championship game. The fact is, though, that this wasn’t the end!
Because there was no knockout stage at the 1950 FIFA World Cup, the last four teams formed a round-robin group. Brazil didn’t even need to win their final game to win the world championship because they already had two victories compared to Uruguay’s one victory and one draw. Additionally, Sweden and Spain played simultaneously, so this wasn’t even the tournament’s final game! Therefore, there would be no mistake if Brazil and Uruguay had drawn.
#7 Roberto Baggio’s missed penalty in the 1994 FIFA World Cup final was crucial
Although the 1994 FIFA World Cup was the best in history, the championship game wasn’t all that spectacular. Although Brazil had the better chances, it seemed impossible for them to score against the formidable Italian defense of Baresi, Maldini, and Costacurta. Due to this, a penalty shootout was required to determine the winner. Brazil was fortunate to win, 3-2. We all recall how, as the Brazilians began to celebrate, Roberto Baggio took the penalty and shot over the crossbar.
But everyone seems to overlook the fact that Italy would probably still lose even if Baggio had scored! Because he tied the score to start the fifth series, the Brazilians simply needed to achieve their ensuing penalty to win. Of course, they may miss it, but blaming Baggio so much when two other Italian players also missed their opportunities from the spot is incorrect.
#6 India skipped the 1950 World Cup as they weren’t allowed to play barefooted
Like no other tournament edition before or after, the 1950 FIFA World Cup was chaotic, as we’ve already mentioned. While several other teams chose not to participate, citing various justifications, India was the topic of conversation. We were repeatedly informed that this country decided against visiting Brazil because they couldn’t play barefoot like they used to. It was reasonable to assume that India withdrew in protest after FIFA decided to outlaw playing barefoot in 1948.
However, it was the case that India occasionally played with boots on, even when the field was dry. As the team’s captain, Sailen Manna asserted that they would have agreed to follow any additional regulations. Another common misconception was that Indians couldn’t afford the high cost of the trip since FIFA pledged to cover all costs. What actually occurred was that the FIFA World Cup wasn’t a worldwide event in 1950. The All-Indian Football Federation made the decision to emphasize the Asian Games and the Olympic Games as a result. Even if it seems like a terrible error now, the situation was very different back then.
#5 The Brazilian Leônidas didn’t play in the 1938 World Cup semifinal as the coach rested him
Leônidas was one of Brazil’s greatest soccer players for a very long time before Pelé. He was at the height of his abilities during the 1938 FIFA World Cup, scoring five goals in three games. Brazil advanced to the semifinals for the first time because of his effort, but they fell to reigning champions Italy.
The fact that Leônidas didn’t even appear for one minute during this game was a major surprise. There has been a rumor that the haughty Brazilian coach Adhemar Pimenta is resting him for the championship game for at least fifty years. The truth was that Leônidas wasn’t fit to participate because he had been so badly battered in the previous games. Many people continue to hold the notion despite his admitting it and even publishing an open letter.
#4 Mussolini Fixed the 1934 FIFA World Cup for the Italians to win It
Benito Mussolini, the dictator of Italy, was not a good man and disliked soccer, to put it politely. He considered the 1934 World Cup that Italy hosted as a fantastic opportunity to advance fascism. Of course, the statement also implied that Italy winning the trophy would benefit him and demonstrate the greatness of his country. He was undoubtedly thrilled when it did occur when the hosts in Rome defeated Czechoslovakia in the championship match. Since then, there have been numerous rumors of fixed games, threats, and bribes. Knowing Mussolini, it was easy to believe them.
However, there was no evidence that a severe crime was committed. None of the games were thought to be manipulated, and the Italians actually had the best team. They repeated as champions four years later, demonstrating the point. Interestingly, there is a rumor that Mussolini told the Italian squad over the phone that they had to win the 1938 championship game or perish. Pietro Rava, one of the participants, later claimed that he had just offered them his best wishes. But he did force them to dress in fascist garb.
#3 You have to be good to reach the World Cup semifinals
Source: Mark Leech/Getty Images
Since reaching the final four in the FIFA World Cup is a huge accomplishment for 99% of the participating nations, you must play exceptionally well to get there, right? However, numerous cases show the opposite, so let’s concentrate on Belgium and Bulgaria. Belgium finished fourth in 1986 after losing to Argentina in the quarterfinal match. It was incredible that they only had a negative goal difference and two victories out of seven games!
In 1994, Bulgaria didn’t do much better, finishing fourth with just three victories, one tie, and three losses. They were humiliated by Sweden and Nigeria, scoring zero goals while giving up seven, hence their goal differential was likewise negative. Brazil in 2014, South Korea in 2002, and England in 2018 all had dreadful semifinal performances.
#2 North Korea state TV announced North Korean victory over Brazil in 2010
North Korea played Brazil in their opening World Cup match in 2010. Everyone anticipated that they would lose badly, yet it never occurred! Brazil won the game 2-1 despite not scoring until the 55th minute. Despite the valiant effort, the North Korean leadership apparently wasn’t happy, according to the accounts at the time. According to the article, North Korea’s state TV reported that their victory was decided by a single goal.
Despite the horror stories we’ve all heard about the nation, this one is entirely untrue! Not only was the right outcome proclaimed, but the performance as a whole delighted the country. We assume that only a few days later when Portugal defeated them 7-0, things were very different. Later reports stated that the team had been publicly humiliated and even imprisoned! A South Korean intelligence source, however, asserts that nothing of the sort actually occurred.
#1 Maradona was rightfully thrown out from the 1994 World Cup
Source: EMPICS Sport
Even though Diego Maradona wasn’t perfect, he was very honest about his vices. His drug use severely damaged his career, and he even received a lengthy competition suspension. The miracle occurred, though, when he returned to play for Argentina in 1993! No one took the team seriously because they were barely qualified, but after two group games, everything drastically changed. Argentina, led by Diego, won both games and was now regarded as one of the favorites! Even the skeptics in the English remarked about his outstanding performance as he scored goals and provided fantastic assists while also being in excellent shape. He was, however, disqualified from the competition following that second game!
The truth is that he did not utilize doping or test positive for cocaine. Instead, ephedrine, a weight-loss medicine with no effect on performance, resulted in his exclusion! What’s even more absurd is that Ramón Calderé, a Spanish player, tested positive in 1986 for the same reason. He was nonetheless permitted to keep playing, with only the medical staff receiving punishment. Ephedrine was also permitted in the NBA, MLB, and NFL because it didn’t impair athletes’ performance. Many still hold the opinion that FIFA wanted Maradona gone because controversial FIFA president Joo Havelange required Brazil to win the championship. He had good reason to be scared because Maradona was leading the best Argentina squad ever and was in top form.
All of these top 10 myths are still prevalent, and Qatar 2022 will likely add a few more, even though the internet makes it possible for us to conduct fairly quick fact-checks. The explanation is straightforward: If you are confident that something is true, you won’t feel the need to perform further studies. We hope you’ve learned something new even if you already knew the truth about some of these myths. Even if they can occasionally be boring and even unpleasant, facts are what we would always rely on!
Have you heard any of the above rumors surrounding the FIFA World Cup? Are you aware that some of them weren’t accurate? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!