World Cup of 1934

Facts about the World Cup of 1934

The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini 'used' the World Cup in 1934 in Italy as a way to pass the fascist propaganda at the public. Already at that time, football was well established in the world, which means it could more easily be directed by fascist regimes such as that in Italy.

"Mussolini knew exactly the power of propaganda. He wanted to project the image of a new Italian man, who would have excellent physical condition, strong and athletic." said Professor John Foot, who teaches modern Italian history at the University of London.

The National team of Italy in the World Cup of '34, was nicknamed "Azzurri's of Mussolini" which revealed the influence that the dictator had on every issue in the country. Of course, by the start of the event, Mussolini was the one who decided who would be the referee of every match, showing his desire to see Italy conquers the trophy...

The Azzurri's of Mussolini 1934
Italy: The 1934 World Champions

The situation got out of control in the quarterfinals against Spain, where the referees passed Italy in the next phase to meet Austria in semifinals. "Mussolini had placed a young Swedish referee in that game against Austrians. It is said that one night before, they had a 'special dinner' to discuss tactics..." says Foot.

Despite the fact that Mussolini had arranged the referee in this game, the Italians threatened and finally scored with one 'suspected' offside goal to qualify for the final. The final opponent would be Czech in a game which Mussolini would put back the same Swedish referee to "lock" the trophy.

Before the game, the coach of Italy's team, followed the steps of Mussolini and the general atmosphere of Fascist Italy, spoke to his players and called them 'soldiers' and the upcoming final such a 'war battle'!

Despite the brainwashing of Italian players and their favorite referee, Italy stayed at 1-1 at the final against Czech, after overtime. At penalties, Italy won and got the first World Cup in it's history.

"This success in Rome, cemented the popularity of Mussolini." adds Foot. Besides, these victories combined with the rise of fascism.

The World Cup of 1934 will be remembered as the event where football used in propaganda and underhanded manner by Mussolini in order to manipulate the masses. Many wondered if the same could have been done if another country conducted the event. Four years after, they received their answer when Italy celebrated again about winning the trophy, this time in France.