Final result: Uruguay 2-0 Argentina
Odd ball: As Argentina were leading France 1-0 in the group stages, the referee blew the final whistle six minutes early. Realising his mistake he had to call players back onto the pitch, some of whom were dragged from their bath to finish the match. The score remained the same.
Final result: Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia
Odd ball: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini saw the World Cup as an opportunity to disseminate his fascist propaganda and ordered the nation to stand to attention during the final in expectancy of Italy’s triumph – lord knows what would’ve happened if they hadn’t won.
Final result: Italy 4-2 Hungary
Odd ball: Forget notions of smiling and dancing Brazilians with their sense of fair play. Their game against the Czechs ended in a mass brawl with three players sent off and two hospitalised. And in those days, it wasn’t easy to get sent off.
Final result: Uruguay 2-1 Brazil
Odd ball: The Indian team pulled out of the World Cup because FIFA wouldn’t allow them to play in bare feet. They haven’t qualified for the tournament since.
Winner: West Germany
Final result: West Germany 3-2 Hungary
Odd ball: When the great Hungarian team beat Brazil, three players were sent off and it ended with a mass brawl in the dressing rooms afterwards. However, it was all good preparation for English referee Arthur Ellis who went on to become an official on the BBC television series It’s A Knockout.
Final result: Brazil 5-2 Sweden
Odd ball: Before the final in ’58, a troupe of Swedish cheerleaders were on hand to entertain fans. The Brazilians complained, since they thought it would give
the Swedes an advantage. The cheerleaders were consequently banned, but samba-dancing Brazilian babes in the crowd have been a feature of every World Cup since.
Final result: Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia
Odd ball: In a tournament marred by violence both on and off the pitch, Italy’s game against hosts Chile was dubbed the ‘Battle of Santiago’. Faces were punched, necks were kicked and the police had to drag off the Azzurri’s Giorgio Ferrini when he refused to go after being shown the red card.
Final result: England 4-2 West Germany
Odd ball: African teams were invited to take part in the World Cup for the first time, but they boycotted the tournament when it emerged that only one team from the entire continent would be allowed to appear at the finals and, even then, only after an additional play-off with an Asian team.
Final result: Brazil 4-1 Italy
Odd ball: During qualification for the 1970 World Cup Honduras and El Salvador had to play each other while the countries were at war. Although the war only lasted six days, national media in both countries encouraged hatred towards citizens of the other and during the play-off match there was rioting and violence. Dubbed the ‘football war’, it escalated and 2,000 people were killed as the countries fought on all fronts. El Salvador qualified at the expense of Honduras, only to lose all their games in the
Winners: West Germany
Final result: West Germany 2-1 Netherlands
Odd ball: Despite winning the tournament, Germany were still not happy. There was a dispute with the German authorities concerning player bonuses and the team walked out of their own victory celebrations.
Final result: Argentina 3-1 Netherlands
Odd ball: At the time of this tournament, Argentina was under the rule of a military dictatorship that had taken control following a coup two years earlier. Many teams threatened to boycott but in the end the only one with the moral conviction to stay away was the Netherlands’ star player Johan Cruyff.
Final result: Italy 3-1 West Germany
Odd ball: Italy’s top scorer, Paolo Rossi, had not played for two years before the finals owing to a worldwide ban following a betting scandal. The ban was originally meant to last for three years but was suspiciously reduced to two, thus allowing him to play in the finals.
Final result: Argentina 3-2 West Germany
Odd ball: The ’86 World Cup was meant to be held in Colombia, but after being awarded it, they realised that they couldn’t afford to host the finals. Mexico was then chosen, but eight months before the opening game there was an earthquake, in which 9,000 died, 30,000 people were injured, while another 95,000 were left homeless. The tournament still went ahead and was eventually won by Argentina.
Winners: West Germany
Final result: West Germany 1-0 Argentina
Odd ball: Soon after the 1990 World Cup, four teams ceased to exist: West Germany merged with the East to become plain-old Germany; Czechoslovakia split to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia; Yugoslavia split to become Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia & Montenegro; and the USSR split into 14 smaller states.
Final result: Brazil 3-2 Italy (on penalties after 0-0 draw)
Odd ball: Maradona was banned after failing a drug test for ephedrine doping. He claimed he had an agreement with FIFA allowing him to use the drug. FIFA denied any such deal was made, but Diego stated (somewhat dramatically), ‘They have cut my legs off.’
Final result: France 3-0 Brazil
Odd ball: The World Cup was used to try to resurrect the ancient French game of choule. It involved crowds of competing villagers moving a wooden ball from one church to another. People remained uninterested.
Hosts: South Korea & Japan
Final result: Brazil 2-0 Germany
Odd ball: Co-hosts Japan and South Korea fell out over whose name went first on the tickets. FIFA took South Korea’s side on the matter. The Japanese sulked. And got knocked out first despite being the more favoured team.
Final result: Italy 5-3 France (on penalties after 0-0 draw)
Odd ball: Literally. The Adidas ‘+Teamgeist’ football, used in the 2006 tournament for the first time, had 14 curved panels rather than the traditional 32, which were bonded rather than stitched. Some players complained the ball was too light and commentators blamed the ball for the record scoring in the opening games. 2010’s Jabulani ball is rumoured to have similar qualities.