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The 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 15th staging of the FIFA World Cup, was held in the United Statesmarker from 17 June to 17 July 1994. The United States was chosen as hosts by FIFAmarker on 4 July 1988. Brazil became the first nation to win four World Cup titles when they beat Italy 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 0-0 after extra-time, the first final to be decided by penalties.

The average attendance for the tournament was 69,000 while the total attendance was 3.6 million. The 1994 World Cup holds the record for the highest attendance in World Cup history. It was also the highest-attended single sport event in U. S. history.


Qualifying countries
Greece, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time. Russia, competing independently for the first time after the dissolution of the Soviet Unionmarker, also qualified. The defending champions West Germany were united with their East Germanmarker counterparts, representing the unified Germany for the first time since the 1938 World Cup. Due to the strong performances by African teams in 1990, Africa were given three spots for the first time, with Nigeria joining Cameroon and Morocco. For the first, and so far the only time, no British teams competed in a World Cup since they started to participate in the tournament in 1950.


FIFA's decision to hold the event in the United States over the bids of Morocco and Brazil surprised many due to the common perception that the United States had a relative lack of football fans. FIFA hoped that by staging the world's most prestigious football tournament there, it would lead to America's growth of interest in the sport - one condition FIFA imposed was the creation of a professional football league; Major League Soccer started play in 1996. Despite these misgivings, in terms of attendance the event was a success. The average attendance of nearly 69,000 shattered a record that had stood since 1950, due to the bigger capacities of the American stadiums compared to those of Europe and Latin America. To this day, the total attendance for the final tournament of nearly 3.6 million remains the highest in World Cup history, despite the expansion of the competition to 32 teams in 1998. Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Italy and the USA were seeded for the final draw that took place in Las Vegas, on 19 December 1993.

The format of the competition stayed the same as in 1990: 24 teams qualified, divided into six groups of four. Sixteen teams would qualify for the knockout competition: the six group winners, the six group runners-up, and the four third-placed teams with the best records. This was the last time this format was used, due to the expansion of the finals tournament in 1998 to 32 teams. This World Cup was the first in which three points were awarded for a win instead of two. FIFA instituted this feature to encourage attacking football after the defensive display of many teams at Italia '90.

The tournament saw the end of Diego Maradona's World Cup career. Hero in 1986 as he led Argentina to the World Cup title, he was expelled from the tournament after he failed a drug test. Maradona was found to have ephedrine, a weight loss drug, in his blood. Colombia's Andrés Escobar was another tragic figure of this tournament. In a first-round match with the United States, he scored an own goal as the USA went on win, 2-1. As a result of this defeat, Colombia went out in the group stage and Escobar paid for the own goal when he was shot to death outside a bar in a Medellínmarker suburb only 10 days after the match.

On the field, the biggest surprise of the tournament was Bulgaria. The Bulgarians had previously never won a match in the finals but, led by the goal-scoring of Hristo Stoichkov, they made a surprising run; Bulgaria won two of their three group matches to qualify for the second round where a 3-1 penalty shoout-out win over Mexico set them up with reigning world champions, Germany, in the quarter-finals. This was the game for which this Bulgarian side would be remembered as goals from Stoichkov and Yordan Letchkov gave them a 2-1 victory. Bulgaria eventually finished in fourth place. The United States advanced to the second round as one of the best third-place teams. There they played Brazil and, despite a 1-0 defeat, the USA's performance was considered a great success.

Brazil's win over the USA helped take them to the final against Italy. While Brazil's path was relatively smooth as they defeated the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and Sweden in the semis (it was the second game between Sweden and Brazil in the tournament, the first ending 1-1), the Italians had made hard work of reaching the final game. During the group stage the Italian team struggled and narrowly advanced to the next round, despite losing 1-0 to the Republic of Ireland. Roberto Baggio, who was expected to be the shining star, had not scored a goal. During the Round of 16 match against Nigeria, Italy was trailing 1-0 in the dying minutes when Baggio scored the equalizer forcing the game into extra time. There, he scored again with a penalty kick to send Italy through. Baggio carried the Italians from there, scoring the game-winning goal in the quarter-final against Spain, and both goals in Italy's semi-final victory over Bulgaria.

The final match at the Rose Bowlmarker was tense but devoid of scoring chances. Despite the strategies disposed by the FIFA to promote offensive play, both teams failed to produce a goal. After 120 goalless minutes, the World Cup was decided for the first time by a penalty shoot-out. After four rounds, Brazil led 3-2, and Baggio, playing injured, had to score to keep Italy's hopes alive. He missed by shooting it over the bar, and Brazil were crowned champions. The trophy was handed to captain Dunga from the hands of the vice-president Al Gore. The Brazilian national team dedicated the title to the deceased Brazilian F1 champion Ayrton Senna, who had died two and a half months prior.

The third-place playoff was set between Bulgaria and Sweden, the team which scored more goals than any other in this World Cup. Sweden won convincingly with a 4-0 victory. One of Sweden's players - Thomas Brolin - was named to the All-star team.

The tournament's Golden Boot went jointly to Bulgaria's Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko of Russia, who scored a record five goals in their match against Cameroon. Both players scored six goals in the tournament. Brazil's Romário, with five goals, won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.

Saudi Arabia flag controversy

McDonald's and Coca-Cola advertised their sponsorship of the World Cup by printing the flags of the participating nations on take-out bags and soda cans, respectively. However, in doing so they made the faux pas of including the flag of Saudi Arabia, which bears the Islamic declaration of faith. Outraged Saudi Arabian officials said that printing the creed on disposable items was completely unacceptable, and these items were discontinued.


The official mascot of this World Cup was Striker, a dog wearing a red, white and blue football kit with a football.


Pasadenamarker (Los Angeles) Pontiacmarker (Detroit) Stanfordmarker (San Francisco) East Rutherfordmarker (New Jersey) Orlandomarker
Rose Bowlmarker Pontiac Silverdomemarker Stanford Stadiummarker Giants Stadiummarker Citrus Bowlmarker
Capacity: 91,000 Capacity: 80,000 Capacity: 85,500 Capacity: 77,000 Capacity: 70,000
Chicagomarker Dallasmarker Foxboroughmarker (Boston) Washington DCmarker
Soldier Fieldmarker Cotton Bowlmarker Foxboro Stadiummarker RFK Stadiummarker
Capacity: 67,000 Capacity: 67,000 Capacity: 61,000 Capacity: 57,000





North and Central America

South America


Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony of the World Cup was held on June 17 at Chicago's Soldier Field. Numerous dignitaries attended, including US President Bill Clinton, Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl and President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. The ceremony was emceed by Oprah Winfrey. In addition, Diana Ross also gave a performance. She was supposed to score a penalty right at the end of her performance, splitting a goal in half. However, she sent the ball wide to the left, but the goals still split open, for no obvious reason at the time.


First round

All kick-off times local. (EDT/UTC-4, CDT/UTC-5, PDT/UTC-7)

Group A

Group A will be remembered for two historical moments in international football. First was that the match between USA and Switzerland would be the first ever to take place indoors, having been played under the roof at the Pontiac Silverdome. The second was the murder of Colombian defender Andres Escobar - shot dead on his return to Colombia, after his own goal had contributed to them being knocked out of the tournament.Victories against Colombia and the USA (in front of a staggering crowd of 93,869) were enough to see Romania through as group winners, despite a 4-1 hammering by Switzerland in between. The magnitude of that victory let the Swiss pip the USA to second place on goal difference, although the hosts qualified for the second round as one of the best third-placed teams.

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

Group B

Group B produced two of the four semi-finalists of this World Cup, and was also one of the two groups in which two, rather than three, sides would progress to the second round. Brazil and Sweden proved to be far stronger than Cameroon and Russia in every department. The match between the latter two broke two World Cup records. Oleg Salenko of Russia became the first - and remains the only - man ever to score five goals in a single World Cup match as Russia ran out 6-1 winners against their African opponents. The goals also ensured that Salenko finished the tournament joint-top scorer with six goals, having previously bagged one against Sweden. Cameroon left a mark too as Roger Milla, at the age of 42, became the oldest World Cup goalscorer of all time as he grabbed his side's consolation goal in the match. The result was not enough to take Russia through following heavy defeats at the hands of both Brazil and Sweden. Brazil overcame Cameroon with similar ease before a draw with Sweden confirmed top spot. The Swedes also progressed, finishing in second place with five points.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 6 1 +5 7
3 1 2 0 6 4 +2 5
3 1 0 2 7 6 +1 3
3 0 1 2 3 11 -8 1

Group C

Holders Germany, and Spain progressed to round two. Coming from two goals down with four minutes left to snatch a 2-2 draw against Spain, the Koreans very nearly eclipsed that feat against Germany when they came from 3-0 down to lose narrowly 3-2. In spite of these comebacks, South Korea were held to a 0-0 draw against Bolivia in their other group match when a win would have seen them through. Instead, only two teams progressed, Spain's late implosion against the Koreans effectively deciding that it would be Germany who won the group and not them. Germany, who defeated Bolivia 1-0 in the tournament's opening match, finished on seven points. Spain had to settle for second place despite leading in all three matches.

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

Group D

Argentina collected a maximum of six points from their opening two matches after beating Greece 4-0 in Foxboro before coming from behind to overcome the feisty Nigerians 2-1 on the same ground four days later, yet still only finished third. The match against Greece had been won in style thanks mainly to a hat-trick from Gabriel Batistuta, yet it was the other goal in the match - from Diego Maradona - that hit the headlines. An over-zealous goal celebration aroused suspicion regarding Diego Maradona's use of banned substances. This proved to be true and as a result, he was excluded from the tournament. Nigeria had been very impressive on their World Cup debut, and despite the narrow loss to Argentina, had emerged as group winners following comfortable victories against Bulgaria and Greece. The Bulgarians also surprised many. Having never won a single match at the World Cup finals prior to this tournament, their fortunes seemed unlikely to change in the aftermath of the 3-0 defeat by Nigeria in their first game. However a 4-0 demolition of the Greeks (who had suffered the exact same fate five days earlier against Argentina) and a win against Argentina had seen them advance in style. Argentina had actually been winning the group going into injury-time, however a 91st minute strike from Nasko Sirakov meant that they dropped two places and finished 3rd.

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

Group E

Group E remains the only group in World Cup history in which all four teams finished on the same points. It began when Ray Houghton's chip ensured that Ireland would gain revenge on Italy by reversing a 1-0 scoreline the Italians had beaten them by in the quarter-finals of the previous World Cup. The next day in Washington, Kjetil Rekdal's goal five minutes from time proved decisive in an equally tense encounter as Norway beat Mexico. Mexico however were much more comfortable playing in Orlando, the setting for their next match against Ireland, where the heat proved to be a key factor. Garcia's double had them 2-0 up and in control of the game before a disagreement on the touchline resulted in fines for both Republic of Ireland's manager, Jack Charlton, and their striker John Aldridge. Fortunately for Ireland, Aldridge was able to re-gain concentration in time to score six minutes from the end of the game. Though Ireland still lost the match 2-1, Aldridge's goal proved crucial in the final group standings. The previous day in New York, Italy's World Cup hopes seemed to be diminishing fast as goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca was sent off with the game still at 0-0. Yet despite this, Italy were still able to salvage an important 1-0 victory. Norway would ultimately pay for a price for their inability to take advantage of Pagliuca's dismissal. With the four teams level on points, the final two group matches would each have to finish as draws for things to stay that way. Republic of Ireland made it through after a dreary 0-0 draw with Norway, whilst midfielders Massaro and Bernal traded strikes as Italy were held 1-1 by Mexico. That result meant that Mexico won the group on goals scored with Ireland and Italy also progressing having finished with identical records (Ireland finishing second on account of the fact that they had beaten Italy when the teams played one another). Norway's shortcomings in attack had ultimately let them down.

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

Group F

Morocco lost each of their matches only by a single goal. Belgium's campaign went the same way as Argentina's; finishing third despite winning their first two matches. After 1-0 victories against Morocco and the Netherlands, Belgium were ultimately beaten by what is regarded by many as the finest goal in World Cup history - Saudi player Saaed Al-Owairian running from his own half through a maze of Belgian players to score the game's only goal. Both teams went through. For the much-fancied Dutch however, progression to the second round was a somewhat nervier experience. The opening 2-1 victory against Saudi Arabia was followed by defeat against the Belgians before another 2-1 victory - this time at the expense of Morocco - eventually saw them win the group. Winger Bryan Roy scored the winner a mere twelve minutes from time.

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

Third Place qualifiers for round of 16

Group Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
D 3 2 0 1 6 3 +3 6
F 3 2 0 1 2 1 +1 6
A 3 1 1 1 3 3 0 4
E 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
B 3 1 0 2 7 6 +1 3
C 3 0 2 1 4 5 -1 2

Knockout stage

Round of 16



Third place match



Golden Shoe Winners Golden Ball Winner Yashin Award FIFA Fair Play Trophy Most Entertaining Team
Hristo Stoichkov
Oleg Salenko
Romário Michel Preud'homme

All-star team

Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards
 Michel Preud'homme
Márcio Santos
Paolo Maldini
Krassimir Balakov
Gheorghe Hagi
Tomas Brolin
Hristo Stoichkov
Roberto Baggio


6 goals

5 goals

4 goals

3 goals

2 goals

1 goal

Own goals



  • The United States-Switzerland match in the Pontiac Silverdomemarker was the first to be played indoors in World Cup history: grass was grown by Michigan State Universitymarker and was the first time since 1965 that natural turf was used in an indoor stadium in the United States.
  • Oleg Salenko of Russia became the first player to score 5 goals in a single World Cup finals game in his country's group stage win over Cameroon. Cameroon's Roger Milla also scored a goal in the same match, becoming the oldest player to score a goal in a World Cup. At 42, he was also the oldest player to appear in a World Cup match.
  • Gianluca Pagliuca of Italy became the first goalkeeper to be sent off in a World Cup Finals match, dismissed for handling outside his area against Norway.
  • The finals were the first time FIFA decided to experiment with the style of jerseys worn by officials, foregoing the traditional black. They would choose between burgundy, yellow or white shirts depending on what was feasible to avoid a clash of colours with the two competing teams. This custom has since been followed, but with black shirts added as an option later.
  • The finals were also the first time that players had their names printed in the back of their jerseys in a World Cup, just like other American sports did. This custom followed from Euro 92, and has followed ever since.
  • The finals were the first to award 3 points for a win in the group stage to motivate teams to play an attacking style.
  • In disciplinary matters, for the first time yellow card accumulated in the group stage were wiped clean after its completion, and players start with a clean slate at the start of the knockout stage. Previously, players were suspended for one match if accumulating two yellow cards throughout the tournament. Now, players were suspended for one match if accumulating two yellow cards in the group stage, or two yellow cards in the knockout stage. This was in response to the situation in 1990, where players such as Claudio Caniggia and Paul Gascoigne were suspended for the later matches.
  • The 1994 World Cup revolutionized television coverage of sports in the USA through the sponsored scoreboard and game clock that were constantly shown on screen throughout the game. Television sports coverage in the US had long been dependent upon commercial breaks; a feature suitable for sports such as baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American football (which all have breaks in the action), but long considered incompatible with football, due to the long stretches of uninterrupted play. Variations on it were quickly incorporated into virtually every team sports broadcast by the decade's end. The first American pro sports broadcaster to do this was Fox Sports which won national rights to broadcast the NFL's National Football Conference from CBS 6 1/2 months before the 1994 World Cup began.

  • The 1994 FIFA World Cup final match was the first to be decided on a penalty shoot-out with no goals being scored either in regular time or in extra time.


  • This was the last World Cup in which matches other than the last two in each group would be played simultaneously, although this would only happen once in this tournament; Saudi Arabia v Morocco and Belgium v Netherlands in Group F. From France '98 onwards, each game in the first two rounds of group play and the whole knockout stage would be played separately to maximise television audiences.
  • This was the last World Cup where the 3rd-placed team in each group was still able to progress via Third Place qualifiers for round of 16.


  1. History of the World Cup Final Draw
  2. XV FIFA World Cup (USA '94) – World Cup History Page.

External links

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