Football World Cup 1994, United States

The 1994 FIFA World Cup United States was the fifteenth edition of the World Cup, and was held in the United States between June 17 and July 17, 1994. The United States was chosen to host the World Cup, and also, for the first time in history, generating great controversy for being a country without a football tradition, due to the popularity of other sports such as basketball, baseball and American football. However, due to the economic development and infrastructure of that country, the event was a great success, marking historical figures of public attendance and financial collection, unbeatable to this day, and even allowed the development of soccer in the United States, becoming a very important sport in that country. It was also the last World Cup that consisted of 24 participating teams, which allowed the classification to the second round of the four best third places of the group stage. It was developed in 9 venues whose stadiums on average hosted 70,000 spectators.

Brazil and Italy met in the final at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium in the city of Los Angeles. Previously Brazil had been the only country of America located in the quarterfinals being the rest European. After tying without goals, both in the regulation time and in the extension, both teams met in the first final of a World Cup determined in a penalty shoot-out. Finally, the South American team was crowned four-time champion after the Italian Roberto Baggio missed his last shot to leave the score 3: 2 in favor of the Brazilian squad.

Among the players that stood out are the Brazilians Romário and Bebeto, the Italian Roberto Baggio, the Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov, the Russian Oleg Salenko, the Romanian Gheorghe Hagi, the Dutch Dennis Bergkamp, the Belgian Michel Preud’homme, the Swedes Martin Dahlin and Kennet Andersson and the German Jürgen Klinsmann. On the other hand, the Argentine Diego Armando Maradona was expelled from the tournament after detecting ephedrine in an anti-doping control after the match against Nigeria and scoring a goal against Greece.

The mascot of the tournament was the dog Striker. The official song of the event was “Gloryland” performed by Daryl Hall and the Sound of the Blackness inspired by a 19th century American antiabolitionist folk song “The Anthem of the Battle of the Republic.” Likewise, the tournament marked the premiere of the Anthem of FIFA in the previous ceremony of the matches.

Roger Milla, a 42-year-old Cameroonian footballer, became the oldest player to play in a World Cup and also to score a goal in a World Cup (against Russia). Milla maintained that record until 2014, when he was overtaken by the Colombian Faryd Mondragón.

After the resignation of Colombia to organize the 1986 World Cup, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States presented their candidacies to organize the event. However, the US candidacy did not have international support, so the government of that country decided to resign and support its southern neighbor, who was unanimously elected, in exchange for having the support of FIFA to host the event. 1994, which had the possibility of returning to America.

The United States represented a very important place for FIFA, due to its economic power. However, soccer was not a popular sport and there was not even a professional football league, these negative factors were evidently reflected in the absence of the US national team in World Cup participations from 1954 to 1986. While FIFA supported the candidature of the United States as a way to extend the practice of sport in the country, much of the international community was against taking the most important event of football to a country that was not practiced massively. Morocco and Brazil submitted nominations, but that of the African country represented the clearest possibility of holding the tournament for the first time in a continent where football was developing rapidly. Finally, and despite the rejection and nonconformity of some traditionalist groups, the United States was elected by 10 votes in favor, seven for the Moroccans, two for Brazil and Chile declined his candidacy on July 4, 1988.

After being granted the headquarters to the United States, the government of that country, began with the preparations of the event and to fulfill to the FIFA his promise to stimulate the soccer in the nation. Despite the efforts of the Football Federation of the United States, among which they stood out, to encourage the competitiveness of their national team in their role as hostess by hiring the Serbian coach Bora Milutinović who had successfully managed the national teams of Mexico and Costa Rica in the World Cups of 1986 and 1990 respectively and with whom a resurgence of American football was seen at the beginning of the 90’s after having excelled in important previous tournaments, as well as the creation of Major League Soccer in 1993, American public was not interested in football. A USA Today survey conducted days before the start of the World Cup reported that only 25% of Americans knew about the event and that 15% of them would watch a game. The newspapers of the country criticized the organization of the tournament: a newspaper said “Here football is the sport of the future, and always will be”, while a Washington Post editorial noted that “football is a game that Americans teach our children until they are old enough to do something interesting ». After the start of the tournament, 10% of the New York Times sports news talked about the World Cup, while 70% was dedicated to baseball. Only two years after having managed to host the World Cup, the American city of Atlanta was elected as the venue for the Centennial Olympic Games to be held in 1996, becoming the third country to organize two events of this magnitude in a period of two years ( previously Mexico and Germany had done it) and a lot of North American sports press was also mostly inclined to the details of the organization of the Olympiad as well as the national athletes with a view to this event in its previous stages of preparation. Even the opening match between Germany and Bolivia was not broadcast by any national network, which preferred to cover the US Open, and throughout the tournament the attention was marked by the trial of former football star O.J. Simpson for the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown, relegating the Cup to the background.

However, after the historic victory of the local team to the Colombian team and with it its historic pass to the round of 16, the American public began to participate in the event. A new survey by USA Today indicated that 88% of Americans knew that the World Cup was held in the United States and 44% of the total said they would watch at least one game on television. In the same way, the number of local spectators grew in the matches played throughout the country.

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