This is the sixth in a weekly series of World Cup history lessons brought to you by our very own “Professor” Guy Bailey. He is not actually a professor; the only professor on staff is Jamie Clary. Well, sort of.
The 1962 World Cup
The 1962 World Cup, the first of the modern era, was held in Chile; the format from the previous competition in Sweden, four groups of four, top two through was heralded a success and was retained for the first time and the qualification process whittled down the original entrants of 56 including such luminaries as Dutch Guiana and the Netherlands Antillles to a manageable 16.
As preparations were well underway an eerie foreshadowing of recent events occurred – namely the largest earthquake ever recorded at the time – a 9.5 magnitude on the Richter scale which effectively paralyzed the country and left the tournament in doubt. The president of the tournament organizing committee, Carlos Dittborn, summed up the defiant mood of the nation with a quote: “Because we don’t have anything, we will do everything in our power to rebuild.” Spurred on by national pride the stadiums and infrastructure were rebuilt in record time and the tournament went ahead on schedule with none of the expected, South-American type, catastrophes or omissions which the Europeans expected. Dittborn sadly died one month before the start of the tournament so the stadium at Arica was renamed after him and still bears his name today.
The first group saw the Soviet Union come through undefeated as group winners, joined by their communist colleagues from Yugoslavia at the expense of Uruguay and Colombia, no doubt enjoyed very much by the hosts. In their 4-4 draw with the Colombians, Marcos Coll scored the first “Olympic Goal” in the tournament, as a goal direct from a corner kick is known south of the equator.
Group Two saw the always tough West Germans come through unbeaten and the hapless Swiss go home with three defeats. The second place was literally fought over between the hosts and the Italians in the infamous Battle of Santiago. Described by British commentator David Coleman as “The most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game.” If that doesn’t set the juices flowing, I don’t know what will. The first foul occurred after 12 seconds, with the first Italian sending-off after 12 minutes. The red card recipient refused to leave the pitch of his own accord and they had to send for the police to get him off. The poor English referee Ken Aston decided to overlook a clean punch by Chilean Sanchez on Mario David (“One of the neatest left hooks I’ve ever seen” – Coleman again) but he couldn’t overlook the retaliation as David metamorphosed into Bruce Lee and committed the worst tackle I have ever seen (it’s at 2:09 on the video). I love Aston’s reaction; he drags David off the field before giving him a red card, as a father would after seeing his kid smash his brother in the face. Football sporadically broke out 15 minutes from time and Chile scored twice to go through to the quarter finals.
Group Three saw the defending champion Brazilians go through with Czechoslovakia over Mexico and Spain; Group Four saw Hungary and England progress against Argentina and Bulgaria respectively.
The first quarter final saw the hosts surprise the European Champion Soviets and win 2-1 at the Carlos Dettborn stadium; Czechoslovakia upset Hungary 1-0 in another surprise; The Yugoslavia/West Germany quarter also went against form and expectation with the Slavs edging through 1-0 and hosts Brazil began a World Cup tradition by beating England in the Quarter Finals, 3-1, so no surprises there.
The first semi final saw Czechoslovakia complete their unfancied run by beating the Yugoslavs 3-1 with two goals in the last ten minutes. In the other game, Brazil eliminated the Hosts who surpassed their own expectations by reaching this stage, 4-2. Chile secured their national pride coming third in the play off with Yugoslavia with a last minute goal from Rojas.
The 1962 World Cup Final saw Brazil defending their title against the unfancied Czechoslovakians in a repeat of the group game which ended goalless. The Czechs maintained their surprise package status taking the lead on 13 minutes through Masopust but Amarildo got Brazil back on the right road equalizing four minutes later. The score remained level until 69 minutes when Zito popped his side ahead and the evergreen Vava sealed the victory, also sealing his own place in World Cup history being the first man to score in successive World Cup Finals, adding to his two in the 1958 victory in Sweden.
This was the last World Cup that wasn’t televised live in Europe, as the Telstar satellite had yet to be launched. Footage from matches was flown in and shown two days later although radio kept everyone abreast with live developments.
Everyone (bar the Italians) agreed that the Chileans had surpassed themselves on and off the pitch with their brave displays. The players certainly had an unusual method of preparing for matches, by eating or drinking the national food of their opponents. They are Swiss cheese before playing the Swiss; spaghetti before Italy, drinking Vodka before beating the USSR but the black coffee they ingested before the semi-final saw the caffeine wear off too early.
Guy Bailey is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.