top of page

The 1966 FIFA World Cup is the eighth FIFA World Cup held in England from 11 to 30 July 1966. The International Football Federation chose England as the host nation of the World Cup in August 1960 to celebrate the centenary of the standardization of football in England. England defeated West Germany 4-2 in the final to win their first (and so far only) World Cup.


The 1966 World Cup was marked by scandal even before it began. Sixteen African countries boycotted the tournament in protest of FIFA's 1964 decision that the winning team in the Africa zone had to play a play-off against the winners of either the Asia zone or the Oceania zone to qualify for the World Cup finals. Representatives of the African teams believed that Africa should be given direct access to the final part of the tournament. Despite the absence of African teams in the qualifying round, a new record was set for the number of countries that took part in the qualifying tournament (70 countries). As a result, FIFA decided that 10 teams from Europe, 4 teams from South America, 1 team from Asia and one team from North and Central America will enter the final part of the tournament.


The mascot of the tournament was the lion Willie (World Cup Willie). He also became the first mascot in the history of the World Cup and one of the first mascots associated with a major sports tournament. The lion is a traditional symbol of Great Britain, he is wearing a T-shirt with the flag of Great Britain and the inscription WORLD CUP.


First round

In March 1966, the Championship prize, the Jules Rimet Cup, which was on display for the public, was stolen. A nationwide campaign to find the stolen cup has been launched. As a result, a figurine wrapped in a newspaper was found by a dog named Pickles in a bush in London. In case the original cup was never found, the Football Association of England made an exact copy of it (it is stored in the National Football Museum in Preston).

The format of the tournament remained the same as in 1962: 16 teams were divided into four groups of four participants each, the two best teams in each group advanced to the quarterfinals. The draw for the final tournament took place on January 6, 1966 in London and was the first draw in history to be shown on television. The national teams of England, Germany, Brazil and Italy were initially divided into different groups, the rest of the participants were determined by lot.

Despite record attendance figures for the time, not many goals were scored at the 1966 World Cup as teams began to play in a more tactical and defensive style. An illustrative example in this regard is the England team, which finished Group 1 in first place with only four goals scored, but not conceded a single one. Uruguay became the second team to advance from Group 1, while Mexico and France left the tournament after the first round. All matches in this group were played at Wembley Stadium (except for the match between Uruguay and France, which took place at White City).

Germany and Argentina left Group 2 with 5 points each. The Spanish team scored 2 points, while the Swiss team lost all three of their matches.

Group 3 matches were played in the North West of England, hosted by Old Trafford and Goodison Park. The world champions, the Brazilian national team, took only third place in the group, losing to Portugal and Hungary. Bulgaria finished last in the group. The Brazilians lost to the Hungarians and the Portuguese in two controversial matches, officiated by English referees Ken Dagnall and George McCabe respectively, who ignored a high number of fouls against key Brazil players. It was the first time Portugal had competed in a World Cup final and performed extremely well, winning all three of their group stage matches, thanks in large part to striker Eusebio, who became the tournament's top scorer with nine goals.

In group 4, there was also a sensation. The North Korean team beat the Italian team 1-0 and left the group in second place along with the USSR team, which took first place. The Italians and Chile did not make it out of the group.

Playoff stage

In the 1/4 finals, the German national team beat Uruguay with a score of 4: 0, but the South Americans blamed the referee for this result (it was Jim Finney), who did not notice Schnellinger's handball on the goal line and sent off two players from the Uruguayan national team. Korea were leading 3-0 against Portugal, but thanks to Eusebio's "poker" and José Augusto's goal, Portugal were able to win this amazing match.

The 1/4 final match between the national teams of the USSR and Hungary ended with the victory of Soviet football players with a score of 2: 1. In the match between the national teams of Argentina and England, the British won with a minimum score. The referee sent off the Argentine national team player Antonio Rattin in this meeting. Subsequently, the German referee Rudolf Kreitlein admitted that he sent Rattin off because he did not like the way he was looking at him (it should be noted that the referee did not know Spanish)

In the first semi-final match, the teams of England and Portugal met. It was originally planned to hold the first semi-final at Goodison Park in Liverpool, but the English football functionaries moved the match venue to London's Wembley. Another semi-final also ended with a score of 2: 1: the German team won against the USSR team. In the match for third place, the Portuguese defeated the USSR national team with a score of 2: 1. These achievements (3rd and 4th places) still (2014) remain the highest achievements of Portugal and the USSR at the World Championships.

bottom of page