The 1966 FIFA World Cup, the eighth staging of the World Cup, took place in England from 11 July to 30 July 1966. Sixteen teams from four confederations participated in the final tournament: 10 from Europe (UEFA), 4 from South America (CONMEBOL), 1 from North America, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF), and 1 from Asia (AFC). Two teams made their first World Cup presentation: Portugal and North Korea.
This World Cup was much more interesting than the previous World Cup. There were also many controversies that will be discussed later. The tournament also set up a record for the largest average attendance in the history of the World Cup. This record was only surpassed 28 years later by the 1994 World Cup held in United States. One of the best matches of the tournament was played between North Korea and Portugal. North Koreans was leading the match by an astonishing 3-0 with only 25 minutes gone, but the Portuguese produced a stunning fightback to lead Portugal to a 5-3 victory and win one of the most exciting game in World Cups history. The great Eusebio scored a poker in that match.
The 1966 World Cup was won by the English team that defeated West Germany 4-2 in a controversial final, to achieve their first World Cup title. England became the third host team to win the title after Uruguay in 1930 and Italy in 1934.
The Feminine Mystique of Betty Friedan launches the reawakening of the Women's Movement in the United States (1963).
The first album of The Beatles is released (1963).
Kenya and Zanzibar gains their independence (1963).
Pope John XXIII dies and issucceeded by Cardinal Montini, who becomes Paul VI (1963).
Martin Luther King delivers I have a dream speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C (1963).
President Kennedy is killed by the sniper Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas (1963).
Lyndon Johnson becomes President of United States (1963).
Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment and incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town (1964).
Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway (1964).
The Beatles' first album: Please please me
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
The Rolling Stones' first album: Around and around
The President of Bolivia Víctor Paz Estenssoro is overthrown by a military rebellion (1964).
Malawi, Malta, and Zambia –formerly known as Rhodesia- gain their independence (1964).
The Rolling Stone release their first album in the United Kingdom (1964).
Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles release new albums (1964).
Cassius Clay – Mohammad Ali- is crowned heavyweight champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston (1964).
Innsbruck, Austria, holds the IX Winter Olympic Games (1964).
Tokyo, Japan, holds the 1964 Summer Olympic Games (1964).
Spain, who beat the defending champion Soviet Union 2–1 in Madrid, wins the 1964 UEFA European Nations Cup (1964).
Malcolm X, the black-nationalist leader and human-right activist, is assassinated in New York City (1965).
Martin Luther King(1929-1968)
Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
Mao Zedong (1893-1976)
Sir Winston Churchill dies (1965).
The Mont Blanc Tunnel in the Alps is inaugurated (1965).
Gambia and the Maldives become independent (1965).
The Indo-Pakistani War begins (1965).
Mao Zedong, the chairman of the Communist Party of China, launches the Cultural Revolution (1966).
The Indo-Pakistani War ends (1966).
Indira Gandhi is elected prime Minister of India (1966).
Barbados, Botswana and Lesotho gain their independence (1966).
The President of Argentina Arturo Illia is overthrown by a military rebellion (1966).
England was chosen to host the 1966 FIFA World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Rome, Italy, on 22 August 1960. There were three bids to host the 1966 FIFA World Cup: England, West Germany and Spain. Spain withdrew from the bidding before to voting leaving two remaining bids. In one round of voting, England with 34 votes defeated West Germany with 27 votes for the hosting position.
The Jules Rimet trophy caused a lot of drama when it was stolen from a public stamp exhibition at Westminster Central Hall just three month before kick-off in the tournament. The trophy was found seven days later wrapped in newspaper in South London, by Pickles, a black and white mongrel dog, while taking a walk with his owner.
Teams that played at least one qualifying match:
393 (3.09 per match)
A total of 74 teams signed up to participate in the 1966 World Cup qualification rounds setting a new record number of entries for the qualifying tournament. England, as the hosts, and Brazil, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.
The qualifying process continued to be very unclear and matter of disagreement for participants. Sixteen African nations boycotted the tournament because they did not accept the FIFA rule that required the three second-round winners from the African zone to enter a playoff round against the winners of the Asian zone in order to win a place at the finals. African nations believed that winning their zone should have been enough to go straight through to the finals.
On the other hand, two very important European teams, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia who were runners-up four years earlier failed to qualify. The 14 available spots were distributed in continental zones as shown below:
Europe (UEFA): 10 spots. 34 teams (including Israel and Syria) competed for 9 direct places. England, as the hosts, qualified directly. Syria, Malta and Iceland withdrew.
South America (CONMEBOL): 4 spots. 9 teams competed for 3 direct places. Brazil, as defending champion, qualified automatically.
North America, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 1 place. 10 teams competed for only 1 place. Guatemala withdrew since the entry was not accepted by FIFA.
Asia (AFC) and AFRICA (CAF): 1 place. 19 teams (including Australia from Oceania) competed for 1 place. African teams withdrew (15). South Africa: banned.
A total of 51 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 127 qualifying matches were played, and 393 goals were scored (an average of 3.09 per match). The teams that qualified for the World Cup were:
The format of the 1966 competition remained the same as 1962. The sixteen teams were divided in four groups of four teams with the top two advancing to the quarter-finals. Each group played a round-robin format. If the top two from each group were equal in points or the second and third teams were equals on points, then goal average would be used to separate any teams equal on points. In the knockout stage, if a match was tied after ninety minutes, then thirty minutes of extra time would be added. If the score was still tied after extra time, then lots would be drawn to determine the winner. This rule would apply to all parties in the knockout stage, except for the final match. The final would have been replayed if tied after extra time. In this World Cup ,replays or drawing of lots were not necessary.
The teams were divided for purposes of the draw into four groups according to geographic basis. Each of the four groups would contain one team from South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay), one from Europe (England, Hungary, Soviet Union, and West Germany), one from Latin Europe (France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy), and one from rest of the World (Bulgaria, Korea DPR, Mexico, and Switzerland). England, West Germany, Brazil and Italy were the seeded teams.
For a complete list of all squads that appeared in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, please, visit: 1966 World Cup squads
The first round had some facts worth noting. The English hosts had no problems winning Group A ahead of Uruguay and progressed to the quarterfinal stage, while in Group B, West Germany and Argentina with five points each advanced to the quarter-finals. One of the most unpredictable results of the tournament occurred in Group C. Portugal and Hungary advanced to the knock-out stage while the pre-tournament favourite and defending champions Brazil had to go home very early. Brazil won the first game but lost the next two and that was enough to go home early in the tournament. This was undoubtedly one of the worst performance of Brazil in any World Cup. On the other hand, Pele and Garrincha became the first players to find the net in three successive FIFA World Cups, when scoring against Bulgaria in the opening match at Goodison Park. The superstar Pele was injured after being hacked mercilessly by the Bulgarians, and he missed the second game against Hungary. The sight of him stricken, covered in a blanket on the touchline, remains one of that enduring images of the World Cups. Pele was brought back for the last crucial match against Portugal, but he was brutally fouled again. From the start, every time Pele touched the ball, he was put down by a Portuguese. Pele escaped some fouls, but was violently fouled by João Morais and hat to be carried out of the field. It is worth remembering that substitutes were not allowed at that time. George McCabe, the English referee, failed to send Morais from the field after a double foul on Pelé. McCabe played no further part in the competition following this incident. This terrible mistake of the referee is remembered as one of 10 top World Cup refereeing errors. After this game Pele vowed he would not play again in the World Cup, a decision he would later change. Portugal, on the other hand, appeared in the finals for the first time. The amazing striker Eusébio from Portugal, a superstar in Benfica and the 1965 European footballer of the year, scored three goals in this stage, making him one of the tournament's top scorers.
Another big upset occurred in group D. Soviet Union and the surprising Korea DPR topped this group and progressed to the quarter-finals at the expense of Chile and the two-time World Cup champions Italy. North Korea defeated Italy 1-0 at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough and advanced to the next stage. Pak Doo Ik became the most famous player in the world when scored the goal against Italy. This was the first time that a nation from outside Europe or the Americas had progressed from the first stage of a World Cup.
In the quarterfinals there were at least two games with great controversy and one with a surprising result. Germany defeated Uruguay 4-0, but The Uruguayans claimed that this occurred only after a clear penalty that the referee Jim Finney from England did not grant -a hand stop by Schnellinger on the goal line- when the game was 0-0 and besides sent off two Uruguayan players to claim. Argentina and England staged another very intense, passionate and controversial match. England beat Argentina 1-0 with a solo goal of Geoff Hurst almost at the end of the game. This game was called “the robbery of the century” in Argentina. The German referee Kreitlein sent off the Argentina captain Antonio Rattín for “violence of the tongue” in the first half, who refused to leave the field and eventually had to be escorted by several policemen. Kreitlein later argued that he had taken the decision, since he “didn’t like how he [Rattín] was looking at me.” After the game, England manager Alf Ramsey stopped his players swapping shirts with the Argentinians whom he described as animals. “We don't swap shirts with animals”, was Sir Alf Ramsey's contribution to British-Argentinian relationships. Meanwhile, in the other two games, the Soviets beat Hungary 2-1 and Portugal, in an extremely interesting game, advanced to semi-finals at the expense of North Korea. Despite going by an astonishing 3-0 up after 22 minutes, the Koreans were beaten 5-3 by Portugal and the unstoppable Eusébio, who scored a poker in just over half an hour. The Black Pearl as he was dubbed, using a combination of skill, power and speed, would be the golden shoe of the tournament. The Portuguese produced a stunning fightback to lead Portugal to a 5-3 victory and win one of the most exciting game in World Cups history.
All semi-finalists were from Europe as occurred in 1934. England continued their winning streak towards the final as they beat Portugal 2-1 with Bobby Charlton scoring both goals, while West Germany, in the other semi-final, defeated Soviet Union 2-1. The third place match saw the victory of Portugal over Soviet Union 2-1. This was the best finish by a team making its World Cup debut since 1934.
The 1966 FIFA World Cup Final was contested at the legendary Wembley Stadium in London, in front of 98,000 delirious fans and millions more watching on television, for the host, England, with their stars Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, and West Germany, with the elegant style of Franz Beckenbauer. England, the country that invented football, beat West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in one of the most exciting and controversial of all World Cup Finals, winning for the first and, so far, only time the World Cup, and becoming the third host to win the tournament. Geoff Hurst became the hero of England after completing a hat-trick in the final, with two goals in extra time. Hurst remains the only man to have scored three goals in a World Cup final. On the other hand, the doubts on the legitimacy of Hurst's second goal remains to this day. TV replays failed to prove if the ball had crossed the line. A British record 32 million viewers watched on television the final, and another 30 million people were watching around the world, a television audience record.
The top scorer (Golden Shoe) of the tournament was Eusébio from Portugal, who would go on to score nine goals. The best young player of the tournament was Franz Beckenbauer from West Germany. The names that people probably remember from those times are:
Sixteen African nations boycotted the tournament because they did not accept the FIFA rule that required the three second-round winners from the African zone to enter a playoff round against the winners of the Asian zone in order to win a place at the finals. African nations believed that winning their zone should have been enough to go straight through to the finals.
The final match between West Germany and England was a very controversial game. The Germans are still debating whether England's first goal in extra time crossed the line or not. TV replays failed to prove if the ball had crossed the line.
On the other hand, João Havelange, the ex-FIFA President also claimed that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were fixed so that England and Germany would win respectively. Havelange told Folha de Sao Paulo that "In the three matches that the Brazilian national team played in 1966, of the three referees and six linesmen, seven were British and two were Germans". On the other hand, it is good to remember that in quarter-finals the referee of the game between England and Argentina was from West Germany, and the referee of the game between West Germany and Uruguay was from England. Havelange's words were published in various newspapers around the world.
The Jules Rimet trophy was stolen during a public stamp exhibition at Westminster Central Hall just three month before kick-off in the tournament. The trophy was found seven days later wrapped in newspaper in South London, by Pickles, a black and white mongrel dog, while taking a walk with his owner. When England won the trophy, Pickles was invited, as a reward, to the celebration banquet.
The opening match between England and Uruguay was delayed because several of the England players left their ID cards at the team hotel. A police motorcyclist was sent to collect them. Credit: ESPN
The match between Uruguay and France was played at London's White City, not a traditional football venue, because there was greyhound racing scheduled for Wembley and the owners refused to cancel it. Credit: ESPN
North Korea caused the biggest upset of the tournament when beat Italy 1 to 0, at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough. Pak Doo Ik became the most famous player in the world when scored the goal against Italy. This victory is ranked as one of the biggest shocks in the World Cups history. Italy, on the other hand, was eliminated in the group stage. North Korea, which had a lot of trouble coming to England because they did not have diplomatic relations with the UK, got into the hearts of the people of Middlesborough. When North Koreans had to move to Liverpool for the crucial game against Portugal and Eusébio, 3,000 fans from Middlesborough followed the North Korean team.
Antonio Rattín, the captain of Argentina, became the first player to be sent off in a senior international football match at Wembley Stadium for violence of the tongue. It must be said that the German referee Rudolf Kreitlein spoke no Spanish. Rattín was so angered by what he considered an unfair decision that he initially refused to leave the field and then he sat on the red carpet which was exclusively for the Queen to walk on to show his disgust. The game was referred to in Argentina as the theft of the century, since England won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Geoff Hurst, reclaimed by the Argentines as a clear offside. After the match, the England coach Alf Ramsey refused his players to exchange shirts with the Argentineans whom he described as animals in the press. Argentina's response was immediate; one Argentine newspaper published a picture of the official World Cup mascot, the lion Willie, dressed in pirate regalia to show their opinion of the England team. This was one of several incidents between the English and the Argentine teams and their sets of fans.
Fans dance in the fountains at Trafalgar Square at 1am in 1966, after England’s World Cup victory
A North Korea player signs an autograph at Lime Street Station in Liverpool