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World Cup 1994: Brazil frustrates Italy’s hopes of winning its fourth title

The event spanned nine US cities from the East Coast to the West and from the South to the Midwest.

Host: USA
Equipment: 24
Format: Group stage, knockouts
Matches played: 52
Goals scored: 141
Winner: Brazil
runners-up: Italy
Golden Boot: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), Oleg Salenko (Russia)


The World Cup has finally arrived in the United States, following an impressive bid based on preparations to host the tournament on a large scale. The event spanned nine cities from the East Coast to the West and from the South to the Midwest.

To encourage attacking play, FIFA introduced some rule changes. Back passes to the goalkeeper were not allowed, linesmen were encouraged to be lenient with the offside rule, and three points would be awarded for winning a pool match.

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Despite the lack of a professional football league, the host nation managed to qualify for the first knockout stage as one of the best third-placed teams. They lost 1-0 to eventual champions Brazil on US Independence Day.

Saudi Arabia were also among the surprise qualifiers for the round of 16 after wins against Morocco and Belgium.

Pre-tournament favorites included Italy with FIFA Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner Roberto Baggio and Brazil with star strikers Romario and Bebeto.

Germany was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Bulgaria.

The final turn was dominated by nerves as both teams failed to score until the end of extra time. In the penalty shootout, Italy’s star player Baggio shot wide and dropped back in what has become one of the defining images of the tournament.

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Brazil won its fourth world title, the first and (then) the only country to do so.

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This World Cup saw the last of Argentine legend Diego Maradona in the tournament.


Russia’s Oleg Salenko became the first and only player (as of 2018) to score five goals in a World Cup match in a 6-1 win over Cameroon.

A World Cup match (USA vs. Switzerland) was played indoors for the first time.

The tournament had record attendance and broke previous records with 3,587,538 spectators (average of 68,991 per match).


Maradona tested positive for ephedrine, a banned stimulant, and was subsequently removed from the Argentina squad before FIFA could sanction him.

Colombian defender Andrés Escobar was assassinated on his way home after his own goal left his team out of the tournament.

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