Now that the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is well and truly under way, here are some of my favourite pieces of World Cup trivia:
- During their 4-0 loss to Yugoslavia at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, the Bolivian team’s shirts had a letter on the front, with the whole team spelling VIVA URUGUAY when they stood side by side.
- Bulgarian goalkeeper Borislav Mihaylov wore a toupee during the 1994 tournament in the USA, to cover his prematurely bald head.
- The record for the most appearances by one player as a substitute in a World Cup finals tournament occurred in 1974, when Leslar Cimikiewicz made 6 appearances for Poland.
- Prior to the Brazil-Yugoslavia match in the 1950 World Cup, Yugoslav captain Rajko Mitic cut his head on an exposed girder in the dressing room of the barely completed Maracana stadium. The referee refused to delay the start of the game, and by the time Mitic was patched up and got onto the field, Brazil were already ahead 1-0.
- The only player to receive a red card after a World Cup finals match was Argentinian defender Leandro Cufré, after kicking German defender Per Mertesacker in a scuffle after their quarter-final game in 2006, which Germany won on penalties. Cufré didn’t even play in the game, having sat on the substitutes bench for the whole match.
- Argentina and Uruguay could not agree on which ball to use for the 1930 World Cup final, so a compromise was reached – the Argentines used their own ball in the first half, while Uruguay used their own ball for the second half.