The 1938 FIFA World Cup France was the third edition of the men’s world soccer championship organized by FIFA. It was held in France between June 4 and June 19, 1938.
The organization maintained for the last time the format of the 1934 edition, consisting of a phase of direct elimination to a single party. In the event of a tie, a 30-minute extension would be played, and if the result remained the same, a tie-breaker should be held the following day. As of 1938, the organizing country and the champion of the previous edition were classified directly.
The tournament was marked by the pre-war climate that existed before the Second World War. Only 15 countries participated because Austria, qualified for the final phase, had been occupied by Nazi Germany and its place became vacant. In addition, 12 of the 15 selections were European and there were only three participating teams from the rest of the world. South America turned its back on the event in protest of the election of a European state, with the outstanding absences of Argentina (aspiring to organize it) and Uruguay. The only American representatives were Brazil and a newcomer Cuba. In addition, the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) was the first Asian country to participate.
In the final held at the Colombes stadium, Italy beat Hungary 4-2 and became the first country to win the bicampeonato. The coach Vittorio Pozzo was also the first coach (and to date only) who has won the World Cup twice.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the war events prevented FIFA from organizing the World Cup in its subsequent editions, and did not resume it until the 1950 edition in Brazil.
The choice of venue for the 1938 World Cup took place in Berlin (Germany) on August 13, 1936, at the Olympic Games, with the candidacies of France, Germany and Argentina on the table, the FIFA members elected absolute majority to the French. It was the second time that a European country would host this event, after the previous edition took place in Italy.
The Argentines took it for granted that they would be the organizers, after FIFA president and founder of the Cup, Jules Rimet, insinuated it to the leaders of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) during an official visit. According to their version, they interpreted that there would be alternation between the continents of Europe and America for each edition, however, several French football leaders such as Henri Delaunay and Robert Guérin (former president of FIFA) lobbied for France to present a project.1 Rimet was convinced, and the rest of the members decided in favor of the Europeans for the number of stadiums and transportation issues.
As there was no alternation, almost all the countries of the Americas renounced the qualifying phase. Uruguay was still upset with the weight of Europe in FIFA and its majority absence in the 1930 World Cup, so the Uruguayan Football Association did not sign up. In the same way, Colombia acted. The AFA only wanted to participate if they did not play eliminatory, and although FIFA raised it, the First Division clubs pressured the AFA because they did not want to give up their players. For this reason, Argentina missed the World Cup for the first time in its history, Brazil, interested in organizing the 1942 edition, did attend and was the only South American representative.
The 1938 World Cup was held in a context of political crisis at the end of the 1930s. Spain had been immersed in a Civil War for two years, and the totalitarian boom in Italy and Germany posed a threat to Europe’s freedom. Three months before the World Cup, the regime of Adolf Hitler had annexed the state of Austria as a province of the Third Reich, within its expansionist policy, which affected the organization because Austria, which was qualified for the final phase He left a vacancy in response, the French public was very hostile against Italians and Germans in their matches. In Asia the situation was also complicated due to the second Sino-Japanese war.