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The 1970 FIFA World Cup, the ninth staging of the World Cup, was held in Mexicomarker, from 31 May to 21 June. Mexico was chosen as hosts by FIFAmarker in October 1964. The 1970 tournament was the first World Cup hosted in North America, and the first held outside South America and Europe. In a match-up of two-time World Cup champions, the final was won by Brazil, who beat Italy 4–1. With their third World Cup triumph, Brazil were allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently.

The Brazilian team, featuring the likes of Pelé (who was in his fourth and final World Cup), Carlos Alberto, Clodoaldo, Gérson, Jairzinho, Rivelino, and Tostão, is usually regarded as the greatest attacking World Cup team ever. This tournament saw the return of free-flowing, attacking play after the physical battles of 1962 and 1966, and is still considered by many fans to be the finest World Cup in history.


Qualifying countries
A total of 75 teams entered the qualifying tournament. Those who failed to qualify included France, Portugal, Hungary, Argentina and Spain. Meanwhile, Morocco became the first African nation to reach the World Cup finals since the Second World War.


First Round

The 1970 World Cup is now remembered as a classic – but, as usual, the tournament was preceded by disputes over the organisation of the event. This World Cup was the first one to be televised in colour. However, to fit into the European viewing schedules, some matches kicked off at noon. This was an unpopular decision with many players and managers because of the intense heat in Mexico at that time of day.
The format of the competition stayed the same as 1966: 16 teams qualified, divided into four groups of four playing each other once in a round-robin tournament format. There were no seeds, instead the organizers formed geographical ‘sections’ from which the four groups were drawn in Mexico Citymarker, on 10 January 1970. The top two teams in each group advanced to the quarter-finals. However, for the first time in the World Cup finals, teams level on points at the end of the group stage were separated by goal difference (replacing play-offs and goal average) and where two or more teams had equal goal difference, by the drawing of lots. If a quarter-final or semi-final match resulted in a draw after extra time the referee would have drawn the name of the team to progress to the next round out of a hat.

Controversy surrounded the World Cup before a ball was even kicked. For England, the build-up to the tournament took a bizarre turn when their captain was accused of theft. While England were in Colombia for a pre-tournament friendly, Bobby Moore was arrested for allegedly stealing a bracelet from a jeweller's shop. He was released on bail to allow him to appear in the World Cup finals, and the charges were later quietly dropped.

In Group 1, hosts Mexico lived up to the expectations of an entire nation by advancing along with the Soviet Union.Group 2 of the opening round produced just six goals in six games as Uruguay, reigning South America champions, and the reigning European champions, Italy, prevail over Sweden and surprise qualifier Israel after a series of dull, uninspired games. Italy would, however, show the true measure of its talent in the knock-out phase.

The first great moments of this memorable World Cup happened in Group 3, where two-time former World champion Brazil were pooled with the current world champions England and solid European sides Czechoslovakia and Romania. In the rematch of the 1962 World Cup final, they fell behind early in their opening game against Czechoslovakia, but fought back strongly and eventually won 4–1. Pelé scored one of their goals, but a goal attempt that in which Pelé audaciously attempted to lob a shot over Czechoslovak goalkeeper Ivo Viktor from the halfway line, missed the goal by a whisker. The "Clash of the Champions" between Brazil and England lived up to all expectations. The match is best remembered for a Pelé near-miss. His powerful close-range downward header was kept out by an amazing save from Gordon Banks, who somehow managed to get down to the ball and flick it upwards and over the bar. In the end, a single Jairzinho goal was enough to win the game for Brazil. Romania ran Brazil close in their third game, but were finally beaten 3–2. England joined Brazil with two 1–0 victories over Romania and Czechoslovakia.
The official 1970 FIFA World Cup poster.
In Group 4, Peru and its attacking style created a sensation by beating established side Bulgaria 3–2 after trailing 0–2 at halftime. Morocco also got off to a bright start, taking the lead against West Germany in their first match, but the Germans came back to win 2–1. West Germany also went behind against Bulgaria in their second match, but a Gerd Muller hat-trick helped them fight back to win 5–2. Muller hit another hat-trick in the Germans' last group game, scoring all their goals in a 3–1 win over Peru. In the end, Peru eventually advanced along with West Germany after scoring three times in 11 second-half minutes to beat Morocco 3–0.

Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and third-place match

The quarter-finals saw a transformed Italy prevail 4–1 over Mexico after trailing 0–1. The host took the lead against Italy with a Jose Gonzales goal, but his team-mate Gustavo Pena equalised with an own goal before half-time. Italy then took over, and dominated the second half. Two goals from Luigi Riva and one from Gianni Rivera saw them go through 4–1. In Guadalajara, Peru's World Cup adventure ended in the quarter-finals, where they lost 4–2 to Brazil after an entertaining and dramatic match between two equally attacking teams.

The game between Uruguay and the Soviet Union was goalless until five minutes from the end of extra time, when Victor Esparrago struck to send the South Americans through. The last quarter-final, a rematch of the 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany, produced one of the great matches of World Cup history. England suffered a serious blow before the game, when their great goalkeeper Gordon Banks was taken ill with food poisoning. His deputy Peter Bonetti stepped into the breach, and early in the second half England had a 2–0 lead and seemed to have West Germany firmly in its grasp. However, West Germany pulled one back with a goal from Beckenbauer in the 68th minute. In a panic, England coach Alf Ramsey decided then to substitute the tiring Bobby Charlton. Without Charlton, England lost its ability to set its own pace on the game and could not contain the relentless German attacks which eventually resulted in West Germany equalizing eight minutes from time with an Uwe Seeler header. Momentum had irrevocably shifted and West Germany avenged the 1966 final loss with Gerd Müller's winning goal in extra time after another Bonetti error, thus, ending England's reign as world champions.

The semi-finals featured an exciting final four, all four having won the World Cup in the past: Brazil vs Uruguay, in a rematch of the 1950 World Cup final, and Italy vs West Germany. In the all-South American match, Brazil managed to defeat Uruguay 3–1 despite falling behind 20 minutes into the match. The game was evenly matched for 70 minutes but the Uruguayans found Brazil's attack too much to overcome. This match also featured another bright moment by Pelé: upon holding possession near the box, he managed to rush all alone up to Uruguayan goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz and, tipping the ball through his left side, the Brazilian ran through the right side, catching the ball on the run and then taking a shot to the empty goal. Unfortunately, Pelé missed by a sliver again. The other, all-European semi-final was regarded by many as the greatest World Cup game ever. Italy took a 1–0 lead through Roberto Boninsegna on 8 minutes after an excellent "one-two" combination with Luigi Riva. West Germany pressed to equalize for the rest of the game, until the very end when sweeper Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, then with Italy's AC Milan, scored in injury time. In extra time, Gerd Müller brought Germany the lead on 94 minutes before Italy defender Tarcisio Burgnich leveled the score with a rare international goal. On 103 minutes, Riva made it 3–2 past goalkeeper Sepp Maier, only for Müller to equalize six minutes later. As television cameras were still replaying Müller's goal, Italy midfielder Gianni Rivera, left unmarked near the penalty spot, volleyed a fine Boninsegna cross past Maier for the winning goal in the 111th minute. Franz Beckenbauer sustained a broken clavicle during extra time. As Helmut Schön, the West German manager, had already used the two permitted substitutes, Beckenbauer stayed on with his arm in a sling. This match is regarded as the "Game of the Centurymarker", also known as the Partita del Secolo in Italy and Jahrhundertspiel in Germany. A monument at the Estadio Aztecamarker in Mexico Citymarker commemorates it. West Germany went on to win the 3rd place match against Uruguay (1–0).


In the final, Brazil struck first, with Pelé heading in a cross by Rivelino at the 18th minute. Roberto Boninsegna equalized for Italy after a blunder in the Brazilian defence. In the second half, Brazil's firepower and creativity was too much for a tired Italian side. Gérson fired in a powerful shot for the second goal, and then helped provide the third, with a long free kick to Pelé who headed down into the path of the onrushing Jairzinho. Pelé capped his superb performance by drawing the Italian defence in the center and feeding captain Carlos Alberto on the right flank for the final score. Carlos Alberto's goal, after a series of moves by the Brazilian team from the left to the center, is considered one of the greatest goals ever scored in the history of the tournament.

A total of 8 outfield players from Brazil passed the ball until Captain Carlos Alberto hammered the ball into the corner of the Italian goal following an inch perfect pass across the Italian 18 yard box from Pelé, prompted by the intelligent Tostão, who, with his back to the goal, told Pelé that Alberto was steaming in on the right flank. Tostão started the move 5 yards from the left of the Brazilian 18 yard box, then ran the length of the field to the Italian box without touching the ball again to tell Pelé to lay it off for Alberto. The players involved in the passes in order were Tostão, Brito, Clodoaldo, Pelé, Gérson, defender Clodoaldo beat 4 Italian players in his own half before passing to Rivelino who hit a perfect pass down the wing to Jairzinho. Jairzinho crossed from the wing to the centre of the box to Pelé who held the ball up to play a pass for Alberto to smash it home. The only outfield players not involved in the move were Everaldo and Piazza. The full team was Carlos Alberto, Felix, Piazza, Brito, Clodoaldo, Everaldo Antonio, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão, Pelé and Rivelino. Brazil won the World Cup with 19 goals scored by 7 players, all of whom featured in the Carlos Alberto goal. Before the finals in Mexico, Brazil had to play the qualifying rounds against Colombia, Venezuela and Paraguay. Brazil was far superior winning all 6 games, scoring 23 goals and conceding only 2. In the last match of the qualifying rounds Brazil beat Paraguay 1 – 0 and had the largest official audience ever recorded for a football match, with 183,341 spectators in Brazil's Maracanã Stadium. In total the Brazilian team won all 12 games , scoring 42 goals and conceding only 8.

This victory consecrated the first tri-campeão (three-time champions) in football history.

With this third win after 1958 and 1962, Brazil earned the right to retain the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently. Brazilian coach Mário Zagallo was the first footballer to become World Cup champion as a player (1958, 1962) and a coach, and Pelé ended his World Cup playing career as the first (and so far only) three-time winner.

Brazilian right winger Jairzinho scored at least one goal in each of the six games that Brazil played (in the first game, against Czechoslovakia, he scored two), a feat which has never been repeated. However, the top scorer of the tournament was West Germany's Gerd Müller, with an impressive 10 goals in the competition. Müller incredibly scored hat-tricks in two consecutive games, against Bulgaria and Peru in the group stage.


The official mascot of this World Cup was Juanito, a boy wearing Mexico's uniform and a sombrero.


Five cities hosted the tournament:

Guadalajaramarker Leónmarker Mexico Citymarker Pueblamarker Tolucamarker
Estadio Jaliscomarker Estadio Nou Campmarker Estadio Aztecamarker Estadio Cuauhtémocmarker Estadio Luis Dosalmarker

Match officials

East Germany


Soviet Union
United Arab Republic
United States of America
West Germany


For a list of all squads that appeared in the final tournament, see 1970 FIFA World Cup squads.


First round

Group 1

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 6 1 +5 5
3 2 1 0 5 0 +5 5
3 1 0 2 4 5 –1 2
3 0 0 3 0 9 –9 0

Group 2

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 1 2 0 1 0 +1 4
3 1 1 1 2 1 +1 3
3 1 1 1 2 2 0 3
3 0 2 1 1 3 –2 2

Group 3

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 3 0 0 8 3 +5 6
3 2 0 1 2 1 +1 4
3 1 0 2 4 5 –1 2
3 0 0 3 2 7 –5 0

Group 4

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 3 0 0 10 4 +6 6
3 2 0 1 7 5 +2 4
3 0 1 2 5 9 –4 1
3 0 1 2 2 6 –4 1

Knockout stage



Third place match



FIFA Fair Play Trophy


10 goals
7 goals
5 goals
4 goals
3 goals
2 goals

1 goal

Own goals

Notable innovations

For the first time, substitutions were allowed in World Cup play. Each team were allowed to make two substitutions during a match. The Soviet Union were the first team to make a substitution in World Cup history against Mexico in the opening match. Viktor Serebryanikov was the first player to be replaced, by Anatoliy Puzach after 45 minutes.

This World Cup also featured the first ever use of yellow and red cards for cautions and expulsions respectively. (Note that cautions and expulsions already existed prior to 1970.) Five yellow cards were shown in the opening Mexico vs USSR match, while no red cards were given in the tournament. These were thought of when the coach attempted to warn off an offending player in the previous World Cup.


  1. History of the World Cup Final Draw
  2. "La Lista" #5 has the information

External links

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