Wordl Cup Qualifiers
This Group appeared to be a formality for Germany and Sweden as two teams were guaranteed to qualify, with Finland and Estonia posing no threat.
The Germans and Swedes comfortably defeated Finland and Estonia ahead of their inconsequential clash on November 21st, 1937 in Hamburg.
In Germany’s win over Estonia (4-1) on August 29th, 1937, it has been reported that the Match Referee the Sudeten-German (Czechoslovakian), awarded Germany’s goal in the 51st minute after the corner kick hit the post and rebounded off the field. He also impeded the Estonian goalkeeper three times (with the Germans scoring each time).
The Germans demolished a below strength (7 debutants) Swedish squad (5-0) to win the Group and qualify with Sweden.
Photo From: Deutschlands Fussball Landerspiele, Eine Dokumentation von 1908-1989(Germany squad, November 21, 1937, World Cup Qualifier, Germany 5-Sweden 0)
Norway eliminated the Irish Free State after two hard fought matches that yielded many goals (3-2 in Oslo) and (3-3 in Dublin).
Norway used the backbone of the 1936 Olympics side that had finished third. Neither team had ever met one another before in International play.
In Oslo, Norway were dominant and felt the scoreline should have been wider.
The sports paper ‘Sportsmanden’ printed the following headline: '37 chances gave 3 Norwegian goals'.
In the match at Oslo, the Swedish FIFA observer, Anton Johanson, had protested that Ireland’s James Dunne might be ineligible on the grounds that he had played for the IFA, who were not members of FIFA. The Norwegian secretary was so confident of FIFA’s decision that he stated the return leg would rank only as a friendly.
The FAI Secretary Joe Wickham contacted FIFA and the selectors went ahead and chose Dunne for the game in Dublin before word came that Norway had decided to take no action on the protest that 'had been suggested to them'.
In the match at Dublin, for the first time in a FIFA competition the two teams used numbered shirts.
Photo From: IFFHS-Norge (1908-1940), Suomi (1911-1940)-Essti (1920-1940)(October 10, 1937, World Cup Qualifier, Norway 3-Irish Free State 2)
Poland eliminated Yugoslavia in this Group. Poland had taken a comfortable (4-0) lead in the first leg on October 10, 1937 in Warszawa.
The return leg was nearly six months later on April 2nd, 1938 at Belgrade. Yugoslavia’s narrow (1-0) win was insufficient as Poland qualified for its First ever World Cup.
Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Christopher Lash) (@rightbankwarsaw)(October 10, 1937, World Cup Qualifier, Poland 4-Yugoslavia 0)
African representative Egypt were drawn against European representatives of Romania.
The home and away series were scheduled for December 1937 (or February 1938 in some sources).
However, Egypt withdrew in November 1937 and therefore Romania qualified for the World Cup without kicking a ball.
Switzerland and Portugal were to play one another in a single play-off match just over a month before the World Cup on May 1st, 1938 at the neutral venue of Milan in Italy.
Switzerland defeated the Portugese (2-1) and qualified for the World Cup.
It was reported that the Milan crowd were hostile to Switzerland for political reasons.
The Portuguese under the Salazar regime made the Fascist salute to the Milan crowd, while the Swiss just yelled ‘hip, hip, hourrah, as tradition dictated at the time.
The crowd jeered them as a result.
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were both in the stands.
Photo From: L'Equipe de Suisse, Authors Guy Balibouse, Roger Felix, Pierre Tripod, 1993(May 1, 1938, World Cup Qualifier, Switzerland 2-Portugal 1)
Hungary were favorites in a Group along with Greece and Palestine. Greece had eliminated Palestine in home and away series.
The Greeks had to face Hungary in a play-off. Hungary demolished Greece (11-1) on March 25th, 1938 to qualify for the World Cup.
Czechoslovakia faced Bulgaria for a spot in this Group. The first leg at Sofia ended as a (1-1) tie on November 7th, 1937.
The return leg was almost six months later on April 24th, 1938 at Prague. Czechoslovakia comfortably won (6-0) to qualify for the World Cup.
Photo From: III Fussballweltmeisterschaft 1938 Frankreich, Author Robert Franta
(April 24, 1938, World Cup Qualifier, Czechoslovakia 6-Bulgaria 0)
The Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania had to face off and the winner was to face Austria for a play-off.
Latvia defeated Lithuania (4-2 at home) and (5-1 away).
On October 5th, 1937, Austria defeated Latvia (2-1) in Vienna to qualify for the World Cup.
However, after the ‘Anchluss’ on March 12th, 1938, Austria withdrew from the World Cup.
Latvia requested to be included in the World Cup, but FIFA denied this request.
Neighboring Nations Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg were in a Group with two teams qualifying. It was a formality that Belgium and Holland would qualify.
Both Holland and Belgium defeated Luxembourg. The match-up between Belgium and Holland in Antwerp on April 3rd, 1938 was inconsequential and ended as a (1-1) tie.
Photo From: IFFHS-Belgique-Belgie (1904-1940)
(Team captains, April 3, 1938, World Cup Qualifier, Belgium 1-Holland 1)
Initially Four nations from the Americas were to qualify.
Peru had withdrawn in protest stemming back from the 1936 Olympics. On October 2nd, 1937, the Peruvian Football Federation resigned its FIFA affiliation, three months before the registration term for the 1938 World Cup expired.
The South American qualifying campaign winner would directly qualify. The other three would have to play pre-qualification games in French venues. Thus, the winner of the North-American zone would decide a vacancy against the winner of the Asian group and the winner from the Central American zone would play against the second place in South America.
Uruguay had withdrawn a year prior to the World and other Nations would follow suit.
Only two Nations sent their registration forms before the deadline; Brazil and Colombia. Somehow, FIFA officials decided that Colombia would play in Group 11 (Central American Zone, in a Group with El Salvador, Mexico, Cuba and Dutch Guyana.).
Colombia eventually withdrew due to lack of funds.
The Bolivia and Argentina Federations requested FIFA to extend the registration date. The suit was accepted, but a week before the new deadline expired the Bolivians withdrew.
Argentina had originally withdrawn on April 3rd, 1937, after not getting the hosting rights. They reconsidered and on October 27th, 1937 registered for the World Cup, provided they did not have to play in qualification matches.
On November 7th, 1937, FIFA accepted their registration.
They later re-entered in January 1938.
On March 5, 1938, the day of the draw for the finals in France, FIFA considered Brazil as a ranked team and determined that Argentina would have to play a pre-qualification game against Cuba, winner of the Central American zone in Bordeaux on May 29th, 1938.
In some sources it is stated that on January 9th, 1938, the Organizing Committee decided that Paris would be the match's venue on May 31st.
Argentina appeared to accept the decision. On March 9th, 1938, Argentina’s First Division clubs asked the Association Council, to withdraw from participating in the World Cup. On March 15th, the Council insisted upon playing the tournament. On March 22nd, Argentina ultimately withdrew from the World Cup.
Finally, on April 10, the Argentina sent a telegram to FIFA saying they were out of the World Cup. The motive given was ‘solidarity with Uruguay over the Europeans' boycott of the 1930 World Cup’.
Note: Some sources state that had Argentina won their qualifying match, they would play against Romania in a play-off.
FIFA assigned the South American berth to Brazil, the only Nation from the continent eager to participate.
Mexico were to play Cuba, however, due to a dispute over funds withdrew. It was also stated that Mexico might have withdrawn as a show of solidarity with Uruguay and Argentina
USA scheduled to play Dutch East Indies on May 26th, 1938 in Rotterdam but withdrew in April 1938.
A tournament was scheduled in April 1938 between Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica and El Salvador, with each tie decided over three legs.
Surinam (Dutch Guyana) were expelled on April 9th, 1938 for allegedly having not replied to correspondence from the organizers (they would protest this decision).
Later in April 1938, Colombia and El Salvador withdrew, leaving Cuba, Costa Rica and Surinam.
Surinam withdrew for lack of funds. They requested to play the match against the Dutch East Indies that USA had withdrawn from. This request was refused by the FIFA.
Costa Rica would in turn withdraw.
Cuba had a walkover, as Argentina also withdrew.
Cuba became the first country from Central America to qualify for a World Cup.
The Dutch East Indies were to face Japan for a spot in this Group. The place was to be decided over one match in Saigon on January 1938.
Japan withdrew leaving the Dutch East Indies to face off against USA in a play-off scheduled for May 26th, 1938 in Rotterdam.
However, USA withdrew as well in April 1938 for Financial motives and the Dutch East Indies qualified without kicking a ball
They became the first Nation from Asia to qualify for the World Cup.
The Americans had been hoping to raise funds with the receipts of a match against an English club. However, the English cancelled the match refusingto play on a Sunday.