It was won by Argentina (their second title, after winning in 1978). Argentina was captained by Diego Maradona who scored the infamous "Hand of God" goal, as well as another voted "Goal of the Century", in the same quarter-final against England. These were two of the five goals that Maradona scored during the tournament, and he also created another five for his team-mates. Argentina beat West Germany 3–2 in the final at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca. Total attendance was 2,393,031, an average per match of 46,019. The 1986 World Cup saw the appearance of the phenomenon dubbed the Mexican wave, which was popularised world-wide after featuring during the tournament.|
The format of the competition changed from 1982, with the second round being played on a knock-out basis rather than groups. The 24 teams qualified were divided into six groups of four (A to F). The top two teams and the four best third place finishers from the six groups advanced to the knockout round of 16 teams. It was the last FIFA World Cup where teams from the same continent were not fully separated from each other in the draw for the first round. Under new rules after this competition, each World Cup group had either two or three European teams. In 1986, Group B only had one European team (Belgium).
World Cup 1986 Facts
World Cup 1986 Background
For the 13th World Cup, Colombia was the only South American to place a bid. Host voting was from this World Cup on only handled by the FIFA Executive Committee (Exco) instead of the FIFA congress. They announced on June 9 1974 in Stockholm that Colombia would host the 1986 World Cup.
However in November 1982, 4 years before the World Cup would start, Colombia withdrew their bid! They stated the reason was financial problems the country was facing regarding the World Cup organisation. As a reaction, countries were able again to place a bid to host the 1986 World Cup.
Canada, United States and Mexico showed interest and placed officially a bid. On May 20 1983 in Zurich, the Exco voted unanimously for Mexico, which was allowed to host the 1986 World Cup for the 2nd time. Their first World Cup was hosted in 1970. Mexico became the first country in World Cup history to have hosted a World Cup twice.
This was the first time the host country announcement was made from Zürich, Switzerland. From this announcement on, all the votes regarding the World Cup host countries would be announced in Zürich where the FIFA headquarters are based.
On September 19 1985 8 months before the World Cup, a severe earthquake occurred in Mexico City creating immense damage in several cities. This event created doubt whether Mexico would be able to continue with the preparations, as was the case with Chile, the host country of the 1962 World Cup. The stadiums however, were not damaged and Mexico was still able to go forward with the preparations and finished on time.
The year 1986 was declared as International Year of Peace by the United Nations. There was clearly emphasis on this declaration since the advertising boards on the stadiums showed both the FIFA and United Nations logos including the slogan: Football for Peace – Peace Year.
The logo of the 1986 World Cup received the following unofficial motto or slogan referring to the design of the logo: El Mundo Unido por Un Balón (The World United by a Ball). This slogan could be considered as the first ever World Cup slogan.
World Cup 1986 Participants
As was the case with every new World Cup, more countries tried to qualify. For the 1986 World Cup a total of 121 countries participated in the qualifications, trying to be 1 of the 24 countries which eventually would participate in the tournament.
As was introduced in the 1982 World Cup, Mexico ‘86 would consist of 24 countries. 2 of them Mexico (host country) and Italy (previous World Cup winner) were automatically qualified.
12 places for Europe were allocated to the following countries: Bulgaria, Belgium, Soviet Union, France, Hungary, Spain, Northern Ireland, Denmark, West Germany, England, Poland and Portugal. Denmark qualified for the first time and Portugal qualified for the first time since 1966.
4 places for South America were allocated to the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay which qualified for the first time since 1958.
2 places for Africa were allocated to the following countries: Algeria and Morocco.
2 places for Asia were allocated to the following countries: South Korea and Iraq. Iraq qualified for the first time and South Korea qualified for the first time since 1954.
1 place for North/Central America and Caribbean excluding Mexico was allocated to country Canada which qualified for the first time.
1 intercontinental play-off had to be played by 2 countries which didn’t qualify directly: UEFA country Scotland against OFC country Australia. Scotland won the play-off and therefore qualified last minute for the 1986 World Cup.
World Cup 1986 Groups
Although Mexico ’86 contained 24 teams just like in Spain ‘82, the format introduced new features. The round-robin 2nd round which was introduced in the 1974 World Cup has been replaced with a different format. It is the Round of 16 that makes its introduction in this World Cup. This is the start of the knockout phase, meaning if you lose, you’re out.
The 6 groups are now mentioned as group A, B etc. instead of group 1, 2 etc. Each group contains 4 teams where the 2 best teams advance to the Round of 16. The 2nd interesting aspect of the format, is that for the first time in World Cup history the last 2 group matches would be played simultaneously. In both the 1978 and 1982 World Cups the last group matches were affected due to the result of the other group match previously played. (Remember Argentina against Peru in 1978? Or West Germany against Austria in 1982?). Therefore by introducing this rule, all 4 teams will give their best in the last group matches since it is uncertain yet what the outcome will be of the other match. The last group matches have become more exciting with this rule.
The 3rd new aspect of the 1986 format is that aside from the number 1 and 2 teams, the 4 best third place teams would advance to the Round of 16 as well. This means of the 6 groups, only 2 teams occupying the third place would not advance. If multiple third place teams have equal points, the goal difference rule would be implemented. If the goal difference was the same, the amount of goals scored would have to determine the position of both countries. Only when this amount is the same as well, lots had to be drawn.
In the Round of 16 the number 1 teams of the groups would play against the number 2 or number 3 teams of other groups. Although some Round of 16 matches contained number 2 teams against other number 2 teams, they would not play against number 3 teams.
After the Round of 16, the winning team advanced to the Quarter-Finals. The last time the Quarter-Finals stage was played was back in Mexico ’70. After the Quarter-Finals the teams had to play the Semi-Finals before reaching the Final, or in the pessimistic case the match for the third place.
The 6 seed countries were Mexico, Italy, West Germany, Poland, France and Brazil. They were kept apart from each other and were placed in different groups.
The groups were as followed:
World Cup 1986 Stadiums
12 stadiums were used in 11 host cities. In Mexico ’70, only 5 host cities and 5 stadiums were used. All the stadiums used in the 1970 World Cup were used in this tournament. In the 1986 World Cup 2 stadiums were used in Mexico City: Estadio Azteca and Estadio Olímpico. Estadio Azteca has the honour of being the first and only stadium so far to have hosted a World Cup Final twice.
Soon Estadio Azteca will not be the only stadium anymore to have this privilege. Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro will be the 2nd stadium to host a World Cup Final for the 2nd time during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The following 11 cities and 12 stadiums were used in Mexico:
World Cup 1986 Schedule
World Cup 1986 Memorable Matches
Italy – Argentina 1-1
Argentina was the only group A country which have won 2 matches. Therefore they easily advanced to the next round. The match against Italy was the only match Argentina didn’t win in this successful World Cup. Italian striker Alessandro Altobelli scored a penalty which resulted in a 1-0 score. Diego Maradona who was going to steal the show in Mexico ’86, scored the equalizer 28 minutes later. Both countries advanced including Bulgaria which didn’t win any matches.Group B
Belgium – Mexico 1-2
This was the first win of the tournament for Mexico. Like Argentina, Mexico won 2 matches and drew 1 match. In the match against Belgium, Mexican players Fernando Quirarte and Hugo Sánchez scored the first 2 goals. Striker Erwin Vandenbergh scored for Belgium. Belgium ended up on the 3rd place but advanced to the next round. Although it appeared to be unlikely at first, Belgium would go far in this tournament with a great goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff. Mexico, for a 2nd time in history, advanced to the next round as well together with Paraguay.Group C
France – Soviet Union 1-1
A strong Soviet Union was able to defeat Hungary with an impressive 6-0 score. It was this high amount which would help Soviet Union to top group C. This was the only group C match which ended in a draw. Vasyl Rats scored first for Soviet Union and Luis Fernández for France. Both teams would win the other 2 group matches against Canada and Hungary. Therefore both teams ended up with 5 points. Since Soviet Union scored more goals than France thus ending up with a better goal difference, France ended up on the 2nd place. Hungary with 2 points became the only country in World Cup history to be eliminated as third place country due to the goal difference rule. Bulgaria and Uruguay of group A and E also had 2 points, but with a better goal difference.Group D
Northern Ireland - Brazil 0-3
Brazil won their first 2 matches and would easily win this match against Northern Ireland. Careca scored the first and the 3rd goal of the match. Josimar who played his first World Cup scored the 2nd goal of the match. It was a goal which is his first and memorable at the same time. Josimar ended up playing since first choice right back Édson got injured. Northern Ireland was eliminated which meant goalkeeper Pat Jennings played his last international match. Jennings played international matches for 22 years and participated in 6 World Cup qualification rounds (1966-1986). Brazil topped the group and advanced together with Spain. The only group match Spain lost was the one against Brazil.Group E
Denmark – Uruguay 6-1
Denmark finally played their first World Cup and made an impressive debut! At least in the group stage. Group E was considered as the group of death with West Germany and Uruguay as strong opponents. Denmark however defeated all of them and trashed especially Uruguay. The only goal scored by Uruguay was a penalty taken by Enzo Francescoli. Søren Lerby, Michael Laudrup and Jesper Olsen scored a goal each for Denmark. Elkjær Larsen scored a hat-trick. Denmark obviously topped the group and advanced together with West Germany and Uruguay. Uruguay advanced without having won any group matches.Group F
Portugal – Morocco 1-3
In this match Morocco wrote history. This was the decisive match. Due to the 1-3 score, Morocco became the first African country to top a group and to advance to the next round. They also became the 2nd country outside Europe and America to advance. The first was North Korea back in the 1966 World Cup. Morocco drew the 2 previous group matches and therefore had to win against Portugal. Abderrazak Khairi scored 2 goals for Morocco and Krimau 1 goal. Midfielder Diamantino scored the only goal for Portugal. Portugal, which qualified for the first time since Eusébio wrote history in 1966, was eliminated. Portugal wasn’t having a great tournament and even refused to train between their first and the 2nd match.They went on strike due to prize-money issues. Although Portugal defeated England, it was Morocco, England and Poland which advanced. The goal difference rule needed to be used for England and Poland, resulting in England taking the 2nd spot and Poland the 3rd spot of the group. Round of 16
Mexico – Bulgaria 2-0
Mexico the number 1 of Group B was to strong for Bulgaria. The first goal scored by Mexico was a beauty. Midfielder Manuel Negrete scored this classic goal with a spectacular scissors-kick. The goal boosted up Mexico’s confidence. In the 2nd half Raúl Servín scored the final goal. Bulgaria which finished 3rd in group A was eliminated without having won any matches in this tournament.Soviet Union – Belgium 3-4
Estadio Nou Camp, León – attendance: 32,277
This exciting and unique match finished the 90 minutes with an end score of 2-2. Enzo Scifo and Jan Ceulemans scored for Belgium and Igor Belanov scored 2 goals for Soviet Union. The match entered extra time. Belgium changed their pace resulting in Stéphane Demol and Nico Claesen scoring a goal in the first 15 minutes. Igor Belanov scored a penalty for Soviet Union 1 minute after the 4th Belgian goal. Desperately they were trying to find the net before extra time was over, but Soviet Union didn’t succeed. Although Igor Belanov scored a hat-trick, it was Belgium which advanced to the next round.
Argentina – Uruguay 1-0
The first ever World Cup Final back in 1930 was between Uruguay and Argentina. Since then, they have never encountered each other in a World Cup again. Until the 1986 World Cup! After 56 years Argentina had the chance to take revenge, and they did! Pedro Pasculli was the scorer of this important goal. Diego Maradona scored a goal as well but this was dissalowed. The 1-0 was enough to eliminate Uruguay and for Argentina to advance in the tournament.Denmark – Spain 1-5
Estadio La Corregidora, Querétaro – attendance: 38,500
Denmark was unstoppable in the group stage. But the race ended in the Round of 16 match. Their opponent was Spain. The match started good for Denmark. Jesper Olsen scored a penalty and changed the score into 1-0. Spanish player Emilio Butragueño equalized 2 minutes before half time. In the break Spain apparently changed their mindset completely. In the 2nd half they crushed Denmark with 4 more goals. Emilio Butragueño scored 3 more goals of which 1 was a penalty. Andoni Goikoetxea also scored a penalty. The Danish dream was suddenly over.Quarter-Finals
Brazil – France 1-1 (3-4)
Brazil eliminated Poland and France eliminated Italy. Brazil was a hard opponent with having won every match so far in the tournament. It was Brazilian striker Careca who scored the first goal 17 minutes after kick-off. Michel Platini who also scored against Poland, scored his final World Cup goal in this match. Coincidentally this day was also his birthday. Before half time the score was 1-1. Nobody scored in the 2nd half but Zico had the chance to score the winning goal. A penalty was awarded but goalkeeper Joël Bats saved his penalty. Brazilian goalkeeper Carlos was lucky not to be booked in the match due to an obvious foul outside the box on French player Bruno Bellone. France as has happened in the Spain ’82, had to participate in a penalty shootout again. This was the first penalty shootout for Brazil. Alemão, Zico and Branco scored for Brazil. Sócrates and Júlio César missed. Yannick Stopyra, Manuel Amoros, Bruno Bellone and Luis Fernández scored for France. Bellone’s valid penalty was pretty remarkable since it had to hit the crossbar and the back of the goalkeeper first before entering the goal! Michel Platini was the only one who missed, the shot went over the bar. France advanced and Brazil was eliminated. This is the only penalty shootout so far which Brazil has lost.
Argentina – England 2-1
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City – attendance: 114,580
A legendary and instant classic match this was. Many people can still remember this match clearly because of no one other than Diego Maradona. 2 legendary World Cup moments happened in this match. Amazingly both moments happened in a time span of 5 minutes! It was in this match against England where Maradona scored his famous ‘hand of God‘ goal. He clearly touched the ball with his hands but the referee didn’t see it. Maradona stated that the goal was scored ”un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios” (“a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”). 4 minutes later he scored a goal which in 2002 was selected as ‘Goal of the Century‘. Maradona dribbled half the length of the field past 5 English players before scoring his legendary goal. Striker Gary Lineker scored the only goal for England in the last 10 minutes of the match. With this goal Lineker became the 1986 World Cup top scorer with 6 goals. Nevertheless, Argentina won this match. Another memorable fact is that Argentina’s opponent was rival England. This match was politically charged due to the Falklands War which occurred 4 years earlier. This was Argentina’s revenge.Semi-Finals
France – West Germany 0-2
West Germany won the penalty shootout against Mexico and encountered France. In the 1982 World Cup they played against each other, where the shocking foul on Patrick Battiston occurrd by goalkeeper Harald Schumacher. They both shook hands before this match. Andreas Brehme scored early in the match resulting in 0-1 score. This remained for the majority of the 2nd half of the match. France was trying hard to score the 1-1, but Rudi Völler’s goal ensured West Germany would enter the Final for a 2nd time in a row. As in the 1982 World Cup, France lost to West Germany. For a 2nd time in a row, France had to play the match for the third place.Argentina – Belgium 2-0
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City – attendance: 114,500
From the 3rd position of group B, Belgium managed to go all the way to the Semi-Final. In the Quarter-Final Belgium defeated Spain in the penalty shootout. They became the first country which have scored all 5 penalties. They encountered Argentina in the Semi-Final, but Diego Maradona and his team were determined to win this World Cup. Diego Maradona scored a goal but was dissalowed since he used his arm. Nevertheless he scored 2 great goals where the last one is considered as 1 of the greatest World Cup goals ever as well. Argentina went to the Final and Belgium played the match for the third place, where they lost against France.
World Cup 1986 Final
2 giants Argentina and West Germany met each other in the Final. Argentina never managed to defeat West Germany in a World Cup. Argentina won the FIFA World Cup trophy only once (1978) and West Germany won already 2 times (1954, 1974) together with Uruguay.
Argentina with captain Diego Maradona performed a memorable performance in this World Cup. Only 1 group match ended in a draw before beating all their opponents in the knockout stage. It was impossible not knowing who Diego Maradona was, especially after his ‘Hand of God’ goal and a legendary goal that since the year 2002 is called Goal of the Century. Both goals were scored against England in the Quarter-Final.
As in the previous World Cup, West Germany reached a World Cup Final again. Before reaching the knockout stage, they lost, won and drew a match. In the Quarter-Final against Mexico, a penalty shootout needed to be won in order to reach the Semi-Final.
Argentina and West Germany encountered each other for the 3rd time in a World Cup. They played against each other in 1958 and in 1966 as well. West Germany ended up winning the 1958 match but the 1966 match ended in a draw.
On the 29th of June, in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City with an attendance of 114,600 the Final was ready to start. the Final started with an opening goal by Argentinian player Jose Luis Brown (23′).That was the only goal scored in the first half. This changed completely in the 2nd half. 11 minutes after the 2nd half started, Argentinian Jorge Valdano scored the 2-0. But of course West Germany wouldn’t be West Germany if nothing surprising would happen.
They showed their opponent once more never to underestimate the Germans and scored 2 goals in the 74th and 80th minute. The first was scored by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and the 2nd by Rudi Völler. With a score of 2-2 any team could still become 1986 World Cup champion. 3 minutes after Germany’s 2nd goal, Diego Maradona gave an excellent pass to Jorge Burruchaga who scored the final goal of the match: 3-2 (83’).
Argentina won their 2nd World Cup and West Germany lost a World Cup Final for the 3rd time. 6 yellow cards were handed out in this Final which was a record, but this has already been beaten in the 2010 World Cup Final.
West Germany would have their revenge in the next World Cup. For the first time a World Cup Final would repeat itself in a next World Cup.
World Cup 1986 Mascot
The previous mascot of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico was Juanito, a little boy. This time a different mascot had to be created. As in Spain ’82, FIFA introduced a character that itself is related to the host country’s culture. This time it was a jalapeño pepper named Pique. The jalapeño pepper is a common ingredient in the Mexican hot cuisine to create spicy dishes. Pique’s name comes from picante which is Spanish for spicy peppers and sauces. Pique wears a moustache and the flat part of a sombrero since his head completes the sombrero form. Although Mexico is using green shirts, Pique contains a red shirt and white shorts to match Mexico’s colours. A green shirt would simply be hard to differentiate. As with other mascots, Pique is shown with a football. As with the latest mascots, the football is not the Azteca but the famous 1970 World Cup match ball Telstar.
World Cup 1986 Song
The 1986 World Cup song is very different in comparison to the 1982 World Cup song. Instead of a catchy happy beat, a deep and beautiful English song named A Special Kind of Hero was introduced as the 1986 World Cup song. The singer who touched many with this beautiful piece of art is British musical theater actress Stephanie Lawrence. Unfortunately she passed away in 2000. A Special Kind of Hero is considered as one of the best and most memorable World Cup songs ever.
World Cup 1986 Records
Did You Know
World Cup 1986 FIFA Awards
World Cup 1986 FIFA All-Star Team
2 countries are included for the first time: Belgium and Denmark. Only French player Michel Platini has been included before in an All-Star Team. Argentinian player Diego Maradona made its first appearance in an All-Star Team. What makes this All-Star Team interesting is the fact that of all the Argentinian players who won the 1986 World Cup, only Maradona is included.
World Cup 1986 in Action
1986 FIFA World Cup Highlights World Cup Mexico 86 Top 20 Goals Hero - Official 1982 World Cup Movie Part 1 Hero - Official 1982 World Cup Movie Part 2 Hero - Official 1982 World Cup Movie (in Portuguese)
1986 World Cup
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