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The 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 12th FIFA World Cup, was held in Spainmarker from 13 June to 11 July. Spain was chosen as hosts by FIFAmarker in July 1966. This World Cup was won by Italy, who beat West Germany 3-1 in the final. With their third World Cup title (after 1934 and 1938), Italy drew level with Brazil as the most successful nations at the World Cup. This tournament was marked by a series of great matches and is widely regarded as the second-best ever after the 1970 tournament. This was also the first World Cup to feature 24 teams, an expansion from at most 16 in the previous tournaments.


Qualifying countries
The most surprising absentees from the finals were those of 1974 and 1978 runners-up Netherlands (eliminated by Belgium and France), North America's power Mexico (eliminated by Honduras), and to a lesser extent 1974 and 1978 participant Sweden (eliminated by Scotland and Northern Ireland). England, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, and the Soviet Union were back in the Finals after a 12-year absence. Yugoslavia were also back after missing the 1978 tournament. Algeria, Cameroon, Honduras, Kuwait, and New Zealand all participated in the World Cup for the first time.


First round

The format of the competition changed from 1978: for the first time, 24 teams qualified, divided into six groups of four (1 through 6). The top two teams in each group advanced to the second round, where they split into four groups of three (A to D). The winners of each group advanced to the semi-finals. This was the only World Cup to be played under this format. The decision to expand from 16 to 24 teams came from FIFA to give the opportunity to more teams to participate, especially teams from North America, Africa and Asia.

The first round was marked by a series of surprisingly strong showings by these supposedly weaker teams, although the more established football powers generally prevailed in advancing to the next stage. In Group 1, first-time participants Cameroon held both Poland and Italy to draws, and only failing to advance only on the basis of fewer goals scored than Italy. However, there was some controversy in the group. In the Peru-Cameroon game, Cameroonian striker Roger Milla had a goal disallowed for offside, but TV replays showed that Milla was clearly onside when he scored the goal. The decision contributed to Cameroon's early exit, as Italy would have been eliminated instead if Milla's goal stood. As a result, Poland and Italy qualified over Cameroon and Peru. Italian journalists and tifosi criticised their team for their uninspired performances that managed three draws; the squad was reeling from the recent Serie A scandal, where national players were suspended for match fixing and illegal betting. Paolo Rossi was singled out for his poor form, being described as a ghost wandering aimlessly over the field. The Azzurri decided on a press black-out from then on, with only coach Enzo Bearzot and captain Dino Zoff allowed to speak to the press.

Group 2 saw one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day with the 2-1 victory of Algeria over reigning European Champion West Germany. This memorable game resulted in the controversial match between West Germany and Austria, their third and final match. As Algeria had already played their third match the day before, West Germany and Austria knew that a West German win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans. The fourth team in the group, Chile, were eliminated regardless of the outcome. After 10 minutes of furious attack, West Germany succeeded in scoring through a goal by Horst Hrubesch. After the goal was scored, the two German-speaking teams went into an unspoken agreement and just kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. Chants of "Fuera, fuera" ("Out, out") were screamed by the appalled Spanish crowd, while angry Algerian supporters waved banknotes at the players. This sham performance was widely deplored, even by the German and Austrian fans who had hoped for a hot rematch of the 1978 FIFA World Cup match in which Austria had beaten West Germany. One German fan was so upset by his team's display that he burned his German flag in disgust. Algeria protested to FIFA, who ruled that the result be allowed to stand, but events led to FIFA introducing a revised qualification system at subsequent World Cups in which the final two games in each group were played simultaneously.

Group 3, where the opening ceremonies and first match of the tournament took place, yielded a major upset with Belgium beating defending champions Argentina 1–0. The Camp Noumarker stadium was the home of Barcelona, and many fans had wanted to see the club's new signing, Argentinian star Diego Maradona, who did not perform to expectations. Both Belgium and Argentina ultimately advanced at the expense of Hungary and El Salvador despite Hungary's 10-1 win over the Central American nation — which, with a total of 11 goals, is the second highest scoreline in a World Cup game (as well as Brazil's 6-5 victory over Poland in the 1938 tournament and Hungary's 8-3 victory over West Germany in the 1954 tournament), second to the 12-goal Austria-Switzerland (7-5) match in the 1954 tournament.

Group 4 opened at record speed with England midfielder Bryan Robson's goal against France after only 27 seconds of play. England won the game 3-1 and qualified along with France over Czechoslovakia and Kuwait, though the tiny Gulf emirate created yet another sensation by holding Czechoslovakia to a 1-1 draw. This group was also the stage of a farcical incident during the game between Kuwait and France. As Les Bleus were leading 3-1, France midfielder Alain Giresse scored a goal vehemently contested by the Kuwait team, who had stopped play after hearing a piercing whistle from the stands, as the French player was in a suspicious, arguably offside position, which they thought had come from Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar. Play had not yet resumed when Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, brother of the Kuwaiti Emir and president of the Kuwaiti Football Association, rushed onto the pitch to give the referee a vociferous piece of his mind. The visibly shaken Stupar countermanded his initial decision and disallowed the goal to the understandable fury of the French. Maxime Bossis scored another valid goal a few minutes later and France won 4-1. Stupar lost his international refereeing credentials due to this incident, and al-Sabah received a $10,000 fine.

In Group 5, the uprising of the minnows continued with Honduras holding hosts Spain to a 1-1 draw, then became a full-fledged revolution as unfancied Northern Ireland won the group outright, eliminating Yugoslavia and beating Spain 1-0 on its home ground in the process, the result was even more impressive as Northern Ireland had to play the majority of the second half with ten men after Mal Donaghy was dismissed. The home team showed that they were not serious contenders this year, barely scraping by thanks to yet another controversial penalty in its 2-1 victory over Yugoslavia.

All eyes were on Brazil in Group 6. Around Zico, Sócrates, Falcão, Éder and fellows, the rejuvenated auriverde boasted an offensive firepower that promised a return to the glory days of 1970. The tri-campeão lived up to all expectations, beating an unexpectedly strong Soviet side 2-1 in a very entertaining first match thanks to a 20 metre Éder goal two minutes from time, then Scotland and New Zealand with four goals each. The promising Soviets took the group's other qualifying berth at the expense of the Scots, Rinat Dasayev emerging as a worthy successor to all-time legend Lev Yashin in the Soviet goal with a rarely talked about save from Joe Jordan's header. The ball was virtually on the line when Dasayev flicked it around the post with his finger at the last possible moment, much to the disbelief of the Scots and watching spectators. New Zealand earned international respect in their World Cup opener against Scotland, cutting the Scots' 3-0 lead to 3-2 before conceding two more goals late in the game.

Second Group Round

Poland opened Group A with a 3-0 defeat of Belgium thanks to a Zbigniew Boniek hat-trick. The Soviet Union prevailed 1-0 in the next match over a Belgian side which clearly had peaked too early in the tournament. The Poles edged out the USSR for the semifinal spot on the final day on goal difference thanks to a 0-0 draw in a politically charged match, as Poland's then-Communist government had imposed a martial law a few months earlier to quash internal dissent and forestall a Soviet invasion.

In Group B, a tense yet fair-minded opening match between England and West Germany ended in a goalless draw. West Germany took an option on the semifinal spot in their second match by beating Spain 2-1. The home side salvaged some national pride on the last day by drawing 0-0 against England, denying Ron Greenwood's team a semi-final place.

It was in Group C, a true Group of Death with Brazil, Argentina and Italy, that World Cup history was made. In the opener, the Azzurri prevailed 2-1 over Diego Maradona's side after an ill-tempered, obscure battle in which Italian defenders Gaetano Scirea and Claudio Gentile proved to be able to stop the Argentinian attack. Gentile's dominance of Maradona is still considered one of the best performances of all time for a marking defensive back. Argentina now needed a win over Brazil on the second day, but they were no match as the Seleção attacking game, characterised by nimble, one-touch passing on-the-run, eclipsed the reigning World Champions. The final score of 3-1 — Argentina only scoring in the last minute — could have been much higher had Brazil centre-forward Serginho not wasted a series of near-certain scoring opportunities. Frustrated because of the imminent loss, Diego Maradona kicked Brazilian player Joao Batista. He promptly received a red card and was sent off on the 85th minute for his actions.

The third-day match between Brazil and Italy was the tournament shocker. Brazil brought to the game the best and most sophisticated and modern attack in the world, characterised by their precision one-touch passing on the run, Italy their vaunted and smothering defence built around the two central defenders, Claudio Gentile and Gaetano Scirea. The majority of the game, in fact, was played around the Italian area, with the Italian mid-fielders and defenders returning the repeated set volleys of Brazilian shooters such as Zico, Socrates and Falcao. Italian centre back Claudio Gentile was assigned to mark Brazilian striker Zico, and his brutal play earned him a yellow card and a sit-out for the following game against Poland. Enzo Bearzot's opportunistic striker, Paolo Rossi, silent thus far in the tournament, opened the scoring when he headed in Antonio Cabrini's cross with just five minutes played. Socrates equalised for Brazil twelve minutes later, but in the twenty-fifth minute Rossi stepped past a Brazilian defender who had been screening him, intercepted an ill-advised pass across the Brazilians' own goal, and drilled the shot home. Rossi's opportunism shocked the Brazilians, who threw everything in search of another equaliser, while Italy defended bravely. For a time it seemed they would hold out, but on 68 minutes, Falcao collected a pass from Junior and fired home from 20 yards out to tie the match. Twice now Italy gained the lead on Paolo Rossi goals, and twice Brazil came back. At 2-2, Brazil would have been through on goal difference, but at 74 minutes, a poor clearance on an Italy corner kick went back to the Brazil six-yard line where Rossi and Francesco Graziani were waiting. Both world-class strikers reflexively aimed at the same shot, Rossi connecting to get a hat trick and sending Italy into the lead for good. At this point, the Italians fell back into their trademark defensive style, and smothered the Brazilians the rest of the way. Nevertheless two minutes before the end of regular time Italy's Giancarlo Antognoni managed to score again but his goal was declared void for off side (although nowadays this goal is widely considered regular) so the match ended 3 - 2 for Italy. This great semifinal upset is still considered one of the best all-time matches of World Cup history.

To this day, Brazilian football aficionados consider this a great upset, given the facts that 1) Brazil had a spectacular campaign up to that point, 2) Italy had advanced to the quarter-finals with only a single victory and the rest of their games tied, and 3) that Rossi, who would go on to become the tournament's top scorer and win the Golden Boot, had not scored a single goal in the tournament before this match. The game was also a contest between Brazil's offensive brilliance and Italy's defensive discipline, coupled with a calculated counter-strike strategy in which Italy kept ten men around their area and left only Paolo Rossi high to seize opportune moments. The Italian strategy worked, first, because the Brazilians could never outnumber the Italians in the Italian area, and second because of the standout defensive performances by centre backs Claudio Gentile and Gaetano Scirea.

The last group, Group D, paled in comparison, the unexpected second-place finish of Spain in the first round having sent them to another group and cleared a path for the French. Les Bleus dispatched Austria 1-0 in their opener, then strolled 4-1 past Northern Ireland for their first semifinal appearance since 1958.

Semi-finals, third-place match, and final

In the wake of its brilliant second-round performance, Italy easily dispatched Poland in the first semi-final through two goals from Paolo Rossi. However, this stunning performance by the Italians was overshadowed by the unforgettable confrontation between France and West Germany. After the Germans opened the scoring through an inspired Pierre Littbarski strike in the 17th minute, the French held on, equalising nine minutes later with a Michel Platini penalty. The closely fought match continued until the middle of the second half when a long through ball sent French defender Patrick Battiston racing clear towards the German goal. With both Battiston and the lone German defender trying to be the first to reach the ball, Battiston flicked it past German keeper Harald Schumacher from the edge of the German penalty area and Schumacher reacted by jumping up to block. Schumacher completely missed the ball, however, and clattered straight into the oncoming Battiston - which knocked the French player unconscious and caused two of his teeth to fall out. The ball went just wide of the post and, to the vociferous astonishment of the French, Dutch referee Charles Corver deemed Schumacher's assault on Battiston to be not a foul and awarded a goal kick. Play was interrupted for several minutes while Battiston, still unconscious, was carried off the field on a stretcher. The match went on without retaliatory violent actions, to the credit of both teams. After French defender Manuel Amoros had sent a thundering 25-metre drive crashing onto the West German crossbar in the final minute, the match went into extra time. On 92 minutes, France's sweeper Marius Trésor, in a rare attack, fired a splendid swerving volley under Schumacher's crossbar from ten metres out to make it 2-1. Six minutes later, an unmarked Alain Giresse drove in a beautiful 18-metre shot off the inside of the right post to finish off a counter-attack and put France up 3-1. But West Germany would not give up. In the 102nd minute a flowing counter-attack culminated in a cross that recent substitute Karl-Heinz Rummenigge turned in at the near post from a difficult angle with the outside of his foot, reducing France's lead to 3-2. Then in the 108th minute Germany took a short corner and after France failed to clear their lines once, the ball was played around by Germany to Littbarski whose sublime cross to Horst Hrubesch was headed back to the centre to Klaus Fischer who was unmarked thanks to Hrubesch winning his header over two defenders. Fischer in turn volleyed the ball past French keeper Jean-Luc Ettori with one of his trademark spectacular bicycle kicks, levelling the scores at 3-3 and sending the match to penalties. This goal was voted the greatest goal in the history of German football by German supporters. In penalties, Giresse, Manfred Kaltz, Manuel Amoros, Paul Breitner and Dominique Rocheteau all converted penalties until Uli Stielike was stopped by Ettori, giving France a huge advantage. But then Schumacher stepped forward, lifted the tearful Stielike from the ground, and promptly pulled off a diving stop on Didier Six's shot. With Germany handed the lifeline they needed Littbarski converted his penalty, followed by Platini for France, and then Rummenigge for Germany as the tension mounted. France defender Maxime Bossis, a pillar of strength on the left flank throughout the tournament, then had his kick parried by Schumacher who anticipated it well, and Hrubesch stepped up confidently to score and send Germany to the World Cup final yet again with a 3–3 (4–5) victory on penalties. The match is today considered the greatest ever played in the competition and one of the greatest matches all-time, with the only argument generally being Italy's epic semi-final win over West Germany in FIFA World Cup 1970. Asked years later what he thought of the game, Michel Platini replied, "For me, no book or film or play could ever recapture the way I felt that day. It was so complete, so strong and so fabulous."

Coming after in the wake of Italy's spectacular quarter-final victory of the favoured Brazilians and on the heels of the monumental French-German semifinal, the final seemed anticlimactic. The Italians were fresh and confident following their easy win over Poland, but the West Germans were tired and had not recovered from the bruising epic in which they had been involved only days earlier against one the tournament's toughest teams. After a scoreless first half during which Antonio Cabrini fired a penalty wide of goal, the fresher legs of the Italians and the confidence gained from their previous two victories began to make the difference between the teams. After a deliberate foul just outside the area by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Italian central defender Claudio Gentile raced upfield to set the ball and initiate the quick restart, catching the German Goalkeeper Schumacher out of position and the German defence unprepared. Paolo Rossi scored first for the third straight game by heading home Gentile's bouncing cross at close range. Once behind, the Germans threw more men forward at the expense of defence in the hopes they could equalise quickly without having to exert too much control. This choice was problematic for them, in their tired condition, and left large gaps at the back for Italy to counter-attack. Exploiting the situation, the Azzurri scored twice more on quick counter-strikes, all the while capitalising on their best-in-the-world defence to hold the Germans. With Claudio Gentile and Gaetano Scirea of Juventus holding the centre, the Italian strikers were free to counter-punch the weakened German defence. Marco Tardelli's splendid shot from the edge of the area (and his legendary shouting and arm-pumping celebration) beat Schumacher first, and Alessandro Altobelli, the substitute for injured striker Francesco Graziani, made it 3-0 at the end of a trademark solo sprint down the right side by the stand-out winger Bruno Conti. Italy's lead appeared secure, encouraging Italian president Sandro Pertini to wag his finger at the cameras in a playful "not going to catch us now" gesture, overcoming an initial reluctance from the Italian crowd to declare victory early after West Germany's famous comeback in the semi-final. In the 83rd minute, however, Paul Breitner managed to put a small scare back into the Italians by driving home a goal against the otherwise spectacular Dino Zoff but it was never enough and Italy claimed their first World Cup title in 48 years, and their third in total with a 3-1 victory.

Coming after the 1934 and 1938 victories, Italy had now drawn level with record champions Brazil. Italy's Paolo Rossi won both the Golden Boot as the tournament's top goalscorer, and the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player (handed out for the very first time), and 40-year-old captain-goalkeeper Dino Zoff became the oldest-ever player to win the World Cup. Germany would recover to reach the World Cup final again in 1986 and finally winning in 1990.

In the third-place match, Poland edged an exhausted, depleted and emotionally drained French side 3-2 which matched Poland's best ever performance at a World Cup previously achieved in 1974. France would go on to win the European Championship two years later


The official mascot of this World Cup was Naranjito, an orange, a typical fruit in Spainmarker, wearing the kit of the host's national team. Its name comes from naranja, Spanish for orange, and the diminutive suffix "-ito".


Seventeen stadia in fourteen cities hosted the tournament.

Madridmarker Barcelonamarker Vigomarker
Estadio Santiago Bernabeumarker Estadio Vicente Calderónmarker Camp Noumarker Estadi de Sarriàmarker Estadio Balaídosmarker
Capacity: 90,800 Capacity: 65,000 Capacity: 93,053 Capacity: 43,667 Capacity: 31,800
Elxmarker A Coruñamarker Gijón Oviedomarker Alicantemarker
Nuevo Estadiomarker Estadio Riazormarker El Molinónmarker Estadio Carlos Tartiere Estadio José Rico Pérezmarker
Capacity: 39,000 Capacity: 34,617 Capacity: 25,885 Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 30,000
Bilbaomarker Valladolidmarker Valenciamarker Zaragozamarker Málagamarker
Estadio San Mamésmarker Estadio José Zorrillamarker Estadio Luis Casanovamarker Estadio La Romaredamarker Estadio La Rosaledamarker
Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 30,500 Capacity: 49,092 Capacity: 34,596 Capacity: 45,000
Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuánmarker Estadio Benito Villamarínmarker
Capacity: 56,000 Capacity: 52,500

Match officials




North and Central America


South America


For a list of all squads that appeared in the final tournament, see 1982 FIFA World Cup squads.


First round

All times local (UTC+2)

Group 1

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

Group 2

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

Group 3

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 3 1 +2 5
3 2 0 1 6 2 +4 4
3 1 1 1 12 6 +6 3
3 0 0 3 1 13 -12 0

Group 4

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

Group 5

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

Group 6

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 3 0 0 10 2 +8 6
3 1 1 1 6 4 +2 3
3 1 1 1 8 8 0 3
3 0 0 3 2 12 -10 0

Second round

Group A

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

Group B

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

Group C

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

Group D

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

Knockout stage


Third place match



6 goals

5 goals

4 goals

3 goals

2 goals

1 goal

Own goals


  • Italy beat three previous winners: Argentina, West Germany and Brazil, on their way to winning the world cup.
  • England were eliminated without being defeated (in 5 games).
  • At just 17 years and 41 days, Northern Ireland forward Norman Whiteside was the youngest player to appear in a World Cup match.
  • This tournament saw the most appearances by third-choice goalkeepers in World Cup history. Czechoslovakia and Belgium used all three goalkeepers from their squads due to injury, suspension, or poor performance. Also, Jean-Luc Ettori of France and Frank van Hattum of New Zealand had originally been selected as second alternates but were designated starters thanks to strong performance in training.
  • As they had done for the previous tournament, the Argentine team assigned jersey numbers alphabetically, with the exception of Diego Maradona switching jerseys with Patricio Hernández in order to wear number 10.


  • This was the first World Cup in which teams from all 6 continental confederations participated. While teams from all confederations qualified for the 2006 World Cup, as of 1 January 2006, Australia became a member of the Asian Football Confederation, moving from the Oceania Football Confederation.
  • Italy became the first team to advance from the first round without winning a game, drawing all three (even though Cameroon were eliminated in the very same way). However, the second round was also a group stage, and they subsequently went on to win the tournament. In 1986, Bulgaria and Uruguay would qualify for the knockout stages as one of the four best third-place teams, after two draws and a loss in the first round (as the second round allowed 16 teams instead of 12 in 1982). In 1990, both the Republic of Ireland and Netherlands advanced after drawing all three games. Ireland subsequently defeated Romania by penalty kicks to reach the quarter-finals, the first to do so without winning a single game in regulation. Chile would also advance to the second round in 1998 after drawing all three games in the first round, when the tournament featured 32 teams, (although, in another group, Belgium were eliminated with three draws).
  • Algeria became the first African team to defeat a European team at the World Cup (2-1 against West Germany in the first round).
  • László Kiss of Hungary was the first substitute ever to score a hat-trick in a World Cup match.
  • Antonio Cabrini of Italy was the first player to miss a penalty in a World Cup final match.
  • The semifinal match between West Germany and France was the first ever in a World Cup to be decided in a penalty shootout. After a 3-3 draw in 120 minutes, The Germans beat the French 5-4 and advanced to the final match against Italy.
  • Honduras was the first Central American football team to score 2 points in a World Cup tournament.
  • This was the first world cup where the anthems were not played by bands but by recordings.


  • For the last time the games of the 3rd leg in the group stage were played in different times. The way in which the match between Austria and West Germany was played is thought by commentators, public in general, and even fellow players, to have influenced the decision (see "First Round" section for details).


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