Battle of Berne (Football history of World Cup 1954)

The quarterfinals of the World Cup between Hungary and Brazil on 27 June 1954 at “Wankdorf Stadium” of Bern (Switzerland) was important not only for the show, but for it’s ferocity on and off the pitch.

Within the game, the team of Hungary dominated. Although, Brazil was strong but succumbed to the superiority of Magyars, who characterized as the best national team in the world in the early 50s.

The sequel was not proportional and the “Battle of Berne” was the last great appearance of the strong team of Hungary.

On the contrary, in the next few years, Brazil unleashed a great counterattack and in 1958 won the first World Cup in its history.

Favorites and underdogs

Brazil was not the favorite against Hungary. Hungary had the best players worldwide such as Zoltan Czibor, Sandor Kocsis and Ferenc Puskas.

They won the gold medal at the Olympic Games of Helsinki in 1952 and remained unbeaten for 32 matches. This streak included the historic victory against England at Wembley in 1953, the first time that England lost at home by a team from outside the UK.

Also, in the opening match of the World Cup, they crushed Korea with a score of 9-0 and 8-3 against West Germany.

Brazil, instead, was trying to heal its wounds after losing the World Cup back at home from Uruguay in the final, four years earlier. “Selecao” had lost 2-1 in “Marakana”, and the country plunged in mourning.

The changes were inevitable. Zeze Moreira became the coach of Brazil and only six players who have played against Uruguay traveled in Switzerland. A few months before the match, Brazil changed the color of their jersey to yellow instead of white.

Ten minutes was enough

Brazil started its obligations at 1954 World Cup against Mexico (won 5-0) and had a draw (1-1) against Yugoslavia. The next match was the one against Hungary.

With the fans on their side, players faced the match as an opportunity to rectify the loss they had four years ago.

Hungary needed just a few minutes to erase any doubt about their superiority and to overcome the absence of Ferenc Puskas. Nandor Hidegkuti opened the score and Sandor Kocsis doubled the score just in the first 10 minutes.

At 18′, Djalma Santos scored for Brazil with a penalty and years later in an interview to FIFA, he said that no-one wanted to shoot this penalty and it was the most difficult penalty of his career.


The score was 2-1 at the end of the half, a result which gave hopes to Brazil. In the first quarter of the second half, Hungary scored again with a penalty.

The decision about the given penalty angered the Brazilian journalists and members of the team, who invaded the pitch and forced the police to take them away from the stadium. Five minutes later Zoulinio reduced the score to 3-2.

The match was strong and aggressive until that point, but ended nervous and episodic. Clashes between the players started when Nílton Santos and Jozsef Bozsik came into hands.

The two players sent off at 71′ and from that moment Brazil desperately tried to reach the equalizer, cutting each attack of Hungary with a very hard way.

11 minutes before the end of the match, Humberto did a hard foul on Gyula Lorant. The referee Arthur Edward Ellis, sent off the Brazilian player.

Hungary sealed the qualification with a final result of 4-2. The match ended with complexes that began on the pitch, continued in the locker room and came off the field between players, team members, organizers, photographers and spectators.


Players of both teams gave so many kicks each other, equal to the times they kicked the ball in the match!

Witnesses say that a bottle was thrown from the bench of the winners to the players of Brazil, while five people were injured in the hall that led to locker rooms, in which the Brazilians had broken all lights.

The coach of Hungary, Gustav Sebes, had stitches after an attack with a bottle. The episodes lasted about 20 minutes and at the next match of Hungary against Uruguay, the organizers placed army soldiers in the stadium to prevent any trouble.

The statements

After the end of the battle of Berne, Sandor Kocsis, who scored two decisive goals and covered the absence of Ferenc Puskas declared about the match:

“We scored four times in the match. We were the better team and will win the match many times if we played again”

The referee, Arthur Ellis, had only one thought in his mind:

“It was the best fight I ever saw in my life but ended episodically. Nowadays, many of these players should sent off. My only thought was to finish the match.”

In his biography, written at 1962, the referee says:

“I’m sure that the famous “Battle of Berne” was a battle between politics and religion. The policy of the Communists Hungarians towards the religion of Catholic Brazilians…”

More information on Wikipedia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *