Fifa World Cup 1978 the 11th staging of the FIFA World Cup, quadrennial international football world championship tournament, was held in Argentina between 1 and 25 June.
The 1978 World Cup was
won by Argentina who beat the Netherlands 3–1 after extra time in the
final. This win was the first World Cup title for Argentina, who became
the fifth team (after Uruguay, Italy, England and West Germany), to be
both hosts and world champions. Argentina, the Netherlands and Brazil
were the gold, silver and bronze medalists respectively.
The official match ball was the Adidas Tango. For the first time the number of entries passed the one-hundred mark. Among the most prominent teams not to survive the qualifiers were Uruguay, who were eliminated in the South American preliminaries.
World Cup 1978 Facts
World Cup 1978 Background
For the 11th World Cup it was time again for a South American country to be the host country. For the 1978 World Cup there were 2 countries interested: Argentina and Mexico. On July 6 1966 in London, the host country was announced together with the host country for the 1974 and 1982 World Cup.
Since Mexico was awarded the 1970 World Cup 2 years earlier in 1964, they withdrew in order to give the hosting opportunity to Argentina. Therefore in July 1966 it was announced Argentina would host the 1978 World Cup, the first and only World Cup so far in Argentina. This is the last World Cup which was hosted in South America, before Brazil received the hosting honor in 2007 for the 2014 World Cup.
This 1978 World Cup is considered controversial due to a military coup Argentina has suffered 2 years prior the World Cup in 1976. This meant a military dictatorship leaded by General Jorge Rafael Videla was in the government during the 1978 World Cup. This dictatorship was responsible for the killing of thousands of people. Therefore multiple countries like the Netherlands were thinking of boycotting the World Cup. At the end they all participated. The dictator showed diplomacy from their side and guaranteed there would be no bloodshed during the tournament.
Other allegations were the fact that Argentina were playing their matches at night after other group matches have been played. In other words they knew their position in the group. They knew what kind of results needed to be achieved in order to succeed in the World Cup. They knew which teams would proceed to the next round or how to eliminate an opponent from the World Cup.
Another allegation was an agreement between Argentina and Peru. Both teams encountered each other in the 2nd round and Argentina had to win with a certain score to reach the Final. Read more about this in Memorable Matches.
World Cup 1978 Participants
For the first time more than 100 countries tried to qualify for a World Cup. A total of 107 teams entered the World Cup qualifications. As in previous World Cups, there was only room for 14 countries. This meant the 1978 World Cup with 16 participants was statistically the hardest World Cup to have qualified for.
West Germany already qualified since they won the 1974 World Cup and Argentina as the host country qualified automatically as well.
8 places for Europe excluding West Germany were allocated to the following countries: Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Austria and France. Austria qualified for the first time since 1958 and Spain, France and Hungary qualified for the first time since 1966.
2 places for South America excluding Argentina were allocated to the following countries: Brazil and Peru.
1 place for North/Central America and Caribbean was allocated to country Mexico.
1 place for Africa was allocated to country Tunisia which qualified for the first time.
1 place for Asia was allocated to country Iran which also qualified for the first time.
1 intercontinental play-off had to be played by 2 countries which didn’t qualify directly: UEFA country Hungary against CONMEBOL country Bolivia. Hungary won the play-off and therefore qualified last minute for the 1978 World Cup.
This is the last World Cup which contains 16 teams. The amount of teams would increase in the 1982 World Cup.
World Cup 1978 Groups
The exact same format used in the 1974 World Cup has been used in the 1978 World Cup as well. 16 teams have been qualified which are divided in 4 groups. A round-robin had to be played (all teams within a group had to play against each other) where 1 point was rewarded for a draw and 2 points for a win.
2 teams of each group would advance to the next round which was again a group stage. The 8 teams making it to this 2nd round were divided in 2 groups of 4 teams in each group. The winner of each group would play against each other in the Final. The 2 teams which reached the 2nd place of each group encountered each other in the match for the third place.
There was 1 vital aspect which made the 1978 World Cup format unique. This is the first World Cup where the penalty shootout rule has been introduced. In the knockout stages, when the score is still even after 120 minutes (including 30 minutes of extra time) the penalty shootout would determine the winner. This means no rematches of the Final would be necessary anymore. In World Cup history, this ended up never being necessary. Every Final till the introduction of the penalty shootout ended with a winner.
Eventually no penalty shootouts have been taken in this World Cup. The Final and match for the third place were decided in 120 minutes. The first World Cup penalty shootout would only occur in the 1982 World Cup.
The 1978 World Cup is the first World Cup to consider the amount of goals scored when the goal difference is the same. Before, lots had to be drawn when the goal difference is the same. But now when 2 teams in a group have the same amount of points and goal difference, the amount of goals will be the decisive factor.This would occur only once in this World Cup, in group 3. These rules apply for every upcoming World Cup.
When the amount of goals scored were the same as well, the winner of the match between both teams would be the decisive factor. Only when this match ended in a draw, lots will be drawn. This happened only once so far in World Cup history, in the 1990 World Cup between group F members the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland.
This would be the last World Cup to contain 16 participants. The first World Cup of the 80s would contain 8 more countries: a total of 24 countries.
Although there are 4 groups, there were 5 seed countries. They were Brazil, Italy, West Germany, Netherlands and Argentina. They were kept apart from each other and were placed in different groups. Italy and Argentina were put together in group 1.
The groups were as followed:
World Cup 1978 Stadiums
6 stadiums were used in 5 host cities during the 1978 World Cup. It was in the capital city Buenos Aires where 2 stadiums were used: Estadio Monumental and Estadio José Amalfitani.
The following 5 cities and 6 stadiums were used in Argentina:
World Cup 1978 Schedule
World Cup 1978 Memorable Matches
Argentina – Italy 0-1
Unlike the previous World Cup in 1974, Italy was able to top the group again. Striker Paolo Rossi played his first World Cup and scored his first goal against France. Italy was the only team which was able to beat the 3 other teams. The last opponent was Argentina. 1 goal by Italian Roberto Bettega was enough to gain victory. Eventually this match became the only match which Argentina lost. Both countries advanced to the Quarter-Finals. Argentina would win all the other matches and draw only once. By the way, in the group match Argentina against France, it was midfielder Michel Platini who scored his first World Cup goal. The 1978 World Cup was his first World Cup but ended quickly after the group stage.Group 2
Tunisia – Mexico 3-1
This match is memorable since Tunisia became the first African country to win a World Cup match! It took 44 years for this to happen. The score started with Mexican Arturo Vázquez Ayala scoring the first goal in the first half. In the 2nd half, Tunisia managed to score 3 goals in the last 35 minutes. The goal scorers were Ali Kaabi, Néjib Ghommidh and Mokhtar Dhouieb. But Tunisia didn’t manage to advance to the 2nd round. The 2 other group members Poland and West Germany advanced. It would take 8 more years before an African country was able to advance to the 2nd round. Tunisia did drew the group match against West Germany, which was a respectable achievement as well.Group 3
Brazil – Sweden 1-1
This was the first 1978 World Cup match for Brazil and Sweden. Both countries have met before multiple times, and would continue to meet in upcoming World Cups. This was their only encounter which ended in a draw. All other World Cup matches against Sweden are won by Brazil. Swedish midfielder Thomas Sjöberg scored the first goal of the match. However it only took less than 10 minutes before striker Reinaldo scored the equalizer. A controversial decision made by the referee was the following: he awarded Brazil a very late corner kick and attacking midfielder Zico headed the kick into the goal. However, the referee claimed he blew the final whistle while the ball was in the air and before Zico made contact with the ball. The goal was surprisingly disallowed. Anyhow, Brazil at the end advanced to the next round. But the biggest surprise of group 3 was Austria! Austria, which qualified for the first time since 1958, topped the group. Both Brazil and Austria had 4 points and equal goal difference, but Austria took the first position since they scored more goals than Brazil. This was the last time so far, Brazil advanced without topping their group. Group 4
Scotland – Netherlands 3-2
After the successful 1974 World Cup, the Netherlands successfully qualified again. The team was missing Johan Cruijff, but still managed to be successful. However, this match against Scotland was the only match that was lost. The first goal (a penalty) of the match was scored by Rob Rensenbrink and was the 1000th World Cup goal. Kenny Dalglish scored the equalizer for Scotland and midfielder Archie Gemmill scored the other 2 goals for Scotland. His first goal was a penalty and his 2nd goal is considered as 1 of the greatest World Cup goals. 3 minutes later Johnny Rep was able to score the 2nd goal for the Netherlands. The Netherlands lost but advanced together with Peru. Peru was the surprising number 1 of Group 4. Like in the 1974 World Cup, Scotland was not lucky and got eliminated due to the goal difference rule again. Second Round
Austria – West Germany 3-2 (Miracle of Cordoba)
Austria against West Germany. Both teams have met each other a few times already and even became 1 team in the 1938 World Cup. Due to the Angschluss just before World War II would start, Austria became united with Germany. However the German team with a few Austrians in 1938 showed the worst performance in German World Cup history. Austria as a separate team has never won against West Germany until this match. An interesting fact was that Austria was already eliminated and didn’t have a chance to advance to the next round. West Germany would still have a chance to reach the Final. But no, Austria was determined to end the World Cup for West Germany as well. It started with German Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scoring the first goal. In the 2nd half an own goal was scored by German defender Berti Vogts. Austrian striker Hans Krankl scored 2 goals in total and Bernd Hölzenbein scored Germany’s 2nd goal of the match. Due to the loss, West Germany did not only miss the Final, but also the match for the third place. This match is called the Miracle of Cordoba, but Germans also use the term the Disgrace of Cordoba.
Italy – Netherlands 1-2
This was the last Group A match for Italy and the Netherlands. The winner would advance to the Final. The Netherlands easily defeated Austria with 1-5 and showed once more why they should be considered as favourites. Both Italy and the Netherlands drew against West Germany. This match ended in 1-2, but all goals were scored by Dutch players. Ernie Brandts became the first and only player so far, who scored both an own goal and a normal goal in the same match. Midfielder Arie Haan scored the last and decisive goal of the match for the Netherlands which was a beauty!Group B
Argentina – Peru 6-0
Till this day many people still doubt whether the final score was agreed upfront by both teams. The deal supposedly was for Peru to lose in the 2nd round against Argentina. Argentina awaited first the final score of the match Brazil – Poland (3-1). With this information Argentina knew they had to win with at least 4-0 in order to reach the Final instead of Brazil. Argentina won pretty easy with a final score of 6-0….The goalscorers were Mario Kempes (2x), Alberto Tarantini, Leopoldo Luque (2x) and René Houseman. The allegation regarding this possible deal between both teams was never proven. Peruvian goalkeeper Ramon Quiroga who is originally from Argentina was accused of allowing the 6 goals passing the goal line so easily. He always kept pleading his innocence. So although Brazil and Argentina had both 5 points, Argentina advanced due to the goal difference rule.Match for the third place
Brazil – Italy 2-1
Since Argentina scored more than 4 goals, Brazil had to play the match for the third place. The first goal was scored by Italian winger Franco Causio in the first half. In the 2nd half Brazil scored 2 goals in a time span of less than 10 minutes. The first memorable goal was scored by Nelinho and the 2nd by Dirceu. Brazilian coach Cláudio Coutinho named Brazil as the ”moral champions” of the World Cup since although they didn’t make it to the Final, they didn’t lose any matches.
World Cup 1978 Final
For the 2nd time in a row the Netherlands reached a World Cup Final again. After having lost to West Germany in the 1974 Final, they had to play against Argentina this time. Argentina also played a Final before but this was way back in the first World Cup in 1930 against Uruguay.
Both countries have played against each other before in a World Cup, which was in 1974. The Netherlands defeated Argentina with an impressive 4-0 score.
The absence of Dutch player Johan Cruijff was very surprising since he showed a fantastic performance in the previous World Cup in 1974. At first It was believed Cruijff didn’t participate due to the military coup that took over Argentina’s government. However Johan Cruijff stated many years later, that he did not participate due to a kidnap attempt months before the tournament. This attempt made him unable to focus on the World Cup.
Johan Cruijff stated: “To play a World Cup you have to be 200 per cent. There are moments when there are other values in life. “
Nevertheless, the Netherlands won only 3 matches in total which was enough to reach the Final. Both the Netherlands and Argentina lost 1 match before reaching the Final. So why was the Final considered as controversial?
The Dutch players accused the Argentians for purposely delaying the match by stalling tactics. The Argentinians supposedly questioned the material of a plaster cast which was used on René van de Kerkhof’s wrist, stating this might be dangerous to other players. The Dutch players claimed this caused tension in front of an intimidating and hostile crowd in the stadium. The Dutch players weren’t feeling at ease at all, which created an advantage for Argentina.
On the 25th of June, in Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires, the controversial Final was held between Argentina and the Netherlands. Around 71,483 spectators in the stadium watched the Netherlands without Johan Cruijff and Argentina with Mario Kempes aka El Toro or El Matador.
The game eventually started and it was top scorer Mario Kempes who scored the first goal in the last couple of minutes before half time (38′). In the 2nd half the Netherlands struck back in the last minutes only before the end of the match (82′). It was Dutch player Dick Nanninga who extended the match to extra time. Rob Rensenbrink had a memorable chance to score the winning goal, but his shot hit the post instead.
This is the 3rd Final in World Cup history where extra time had to be played. During extra time 2 goals were scored, each in 1 half of extra time. None of the 2 goals were scored for the Netherlands though, but both for Argentina. It was Mario Kempes again who changed the score into 2-1 (104′) and Daniel Bertoni who changed the score into 3-1 (115′). Argentina became the 2nd country to win the new FIFA World Cup trophy, and the 5th country to win the World Cup as a host country. Mario Kempes became top scorer of the 1978 World Cup with 6 goals.
This was the first time a country won the Final without having won 2 previous matches. 1 match they lost against Italy in the first round and the other match ended in a draw against Brazil in the 2nd round.
After the loss, the Netherlands refused to participate in the ceremonies after the match and didn’t receive the silver medals from the dictator. The Netherlands had lost a Final for the 2nd time, coincidentally 2 times to a host nation and 2 times in a row.
The Netherlands was not the only country which has lost 2 Finals without having won a Final once. Czechoslovakia and Hungary shared the same faith. But the Netherlands would surpass this record in the 2010 World Cup.
Argentina would play another Final pretty soon: 8 years later with an important role for Diego Maradona. The Netherlands would make it to another Final only in the first World Cup organised in Africa.
World Cup 1978 Mascot
The official 1978 World Cup mascot is boy, continuing the mascot tradition of introducing a human being since 1970. In terms of attributes such as the name, hat and football, he resembles greatly with mascot Juanito of the 1970 World Cup. The boy’s name is Gauchito. Gauchito means little Gaucho. A Gaucho is a term which describes a traditional resident in South America and can be compared with the North American cowboy. Gauchito wears the Argentian kit together with a whip and a neckerchief which are commonly used by Gauchos. He wears a hat with the text ARGENTINA 78 on it and has a white/blue Telstar football from the 1970 World Cup. Gauchito would be the last human mascot till this date that was introduced for a World Cup tournament.
World Cup 1978 Song
The 1978 World Cup song is not really a song but more of an anthem. The name of the official 1978 World Cup anthem is called El Mundial aka 1978 World Cup Anthem. The musical piece with little lyrics is composed by the legendary movie composer Ennio Morricone, and is performed by the Buenos Aires Municipal Symphony. This group is considered as one of the most prestigious orchestras in Argentina and South America.
World Cup 1978 Records
Did You Know
World Cup 1978 FIFA Awards
World Cup 1978 FIFA All-Star Team
The 1978 FIFA All-Star Team includes 3 players which have been included in the previous World Cup All-Star Team. 2 are from the same country the Netherlands: Ruud Krol and Rob Rensenbrink. Rob Rensenbrink is this time included as a midfielder instead of a forward. The 3rd person is Berti Vogts from West Germany. Peruvian player Teófilo Cubillas is the only player from Peru to have been included in an All-Star Team.
World Cup 1978 in Action
1978 FIFA World Cup Highlights Fifa World Cup History : 1978 part 1 Fifa World Cup History : 1978 part 2 Greatest goals 1 Greatest goals 2 Campeones – Official 1978 World Cup Movie (in Portuguese)
Tag: 1978 Fifa World Cup Final
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