History of Football: FIFA World Cup - 1938

The third FIFA football World Cup tournament took place in France from 4th June to 19th June, 1938. They qualified automatically as hosts, as did Italy as holders. This rule continued until the 2006 World Cup.

In protest at a second consecutive tournament taking place in Europe, Uruguay and Argentina refused to travel, leaving only three countries from outside the host country’s continent to participate – the smallest number ever in a World Cup tournament.

This was the last major sporting event to take place before the Second World War; the World Cup tournament was not held again until 1950. However, Spain were unable to take part in 1938 either, because of the Civil War already taking place in that country.

The final was held in the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris on 19th June 1938 in front of a crowd of 45,124. Italy beat Hungary, 4.2, to become the first nation to retain the World Cup and also the first country not hosting the tournament to do so. Italy’s scorers were Luigi Colausig and Silvio Piola; Pál Titkos and György Sárosi scored for Hungary.

The Golden Boot (‘adidas Golden Shoe’ since 1982) award for most goals scored in the tournament was won by Leônidas da Silva of Brazil with 7 goals.

Winners: Italy

Runners-up: Hungary

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