History of Football: FIFA World Cup - 1978

The eleventh FIFA football World Cup tournament took place in Argentina from 1st June to 25th June 1978. Argentina won their first World Cup, 48 years after appearing in the first World Cup Final in 1930.

The event was played against the backdrop of General Jorge Rafael Videla’s military dictatorship after the 1976 coup d’état that deposed Argentina’s president, Isabel Martinez de Peron. There had been widespread opposition to Argentina hosting the finals. On the pitch, there were also allegations of match-rigging and all of Argentina’s games kicked off at night, giving them the advantage of already knowing other results in their group ahead of their own games. FIFA changed the rules ahead of the 1982 event as a result of the protests abroad.

Tunisia and Iran both qualified for the first time with the latter drawing against Scotland in a miserable tournament apart from a storming 3.2 victory over eventual finalists The Netherlands, including a stunning goal from Archie Gemmill. Dutch forward Rob Rensenbrink scored the 1,000th goal in World Cup history, converting a penalty in the same match. England failed to qualify for the second tournament in a row, having missed out on West Germany in 1974.

As with Scotland in 1974, Brazil were undefeated throughout the competition but still did not make the final stages.

Tunisia’s 3-1 win against Mexico in the opening round was the first by an African country at the World Cup; they later also held defending champions West Germany to a goalless draw.

In failing to take part in 1978, Sri Lanka became the first country to withdraw from a World Cup due to the inability to pay the entrance fee.

West Germany manager, Helmut Schön, retired following the 1978 competition after managing a team in four consecutive World Cups. He still holds the record for most World Cup appearances (25) and wins (16) by a manager.

Dutch defender Ernie Brandts became the only player to score a goal and an own-goal in a single World Cup game – a second-round match against Italy.

The final was held at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires on 25th June 1978 in front of a crowd of 71,483. Argentina beat The Netherlands 3.1 after extra-time. This was the second successive Final that The Netherlands had lost after their defeat to West Germany in 1974. Argentina’s scorers were Mario Kempes and Ricardo Bertoni; Dirk “Dick” Nanninga scored for The Netherlands.

The Golden Boot (‘adidas Golden Shoe’ since 1982) award for most goals scored in the tournament was won by Mario Kempes of Argentina with 6 goals.

Winners: Argentina

Runners-up: The Netherlands

The Football Ground is a content aggregating site and is in no way endorsed, authorised or licensed by any of the third-party sites being linked to

You can contact us at any time via our Contact us page

Share this page