1994 – the United States succumbed to soccer, as they call the world’s most popular sport, and hosted the 1994 World Cup. The 1994 World Cup had the biggest crowd in the FIFA event’s history, 3,587,538 spectators, and other equally impressive figures. This victory made Brazil the first nation to win four World Cup titles. The competition saw no less than 141 goals, the best mark since 1982. During qualifiers, 147 teams fought for 24 spots. In addition, Cameroon player Roger Milla got another record: he became the oldest player to ever score a goal in a World Cup. This World Cup was a tough time period for me personally and I was devastated at some personal stuff. I remember even breaking my spectacles by accident one night while trying to watch the games and I was like “great”!
Milla was 42 years, one month, and eight days when he scored Cameroon’s only goal in their 6-1 defeat to Russia. That match also registered another record in World Cups: Russian player Oleg Salenko scored five goals in just one game. The 1994 World Cup is also remembered because of two episodes. The first was Diego Maradona testing positive after a drug test, caught on the anti-doping test, which detected ephedrine. The second damaging episode was the death of Colombian defender Andrés Escobar. The player scored an own goal against the United States in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup. The mistake resulted in Colombia losing 2-1 and being eliminated from the tournament. After returning home, Escobar was murdered in front of a nightclub in the city of Medellín, supposedly ordered by Colombian gamblers who lost a lot of money with the negative result.
Europe had its turn four years earlier, in 1990, so the following non-European countries placed a bid: Morocco, the United States, and Brazil. The FIFA Executive Committee (Exco) announced on July 4, 1988, in Zurich that the United States won the bid with a little more than half of the votes. For the United States to host the 1994 World Cup, it had to meet one condition. This condition was that the United States had to create a professional football league. The sport has become more popular, and the professional football league was established in 1993 called the Major League Soccer (MLS).
West Germany and East Germany finally reunited in 1990; therefore, the German participant in the 1994 World Cup was called Germany again. The 1994 World Cup had country Russia as a participant as well. Due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia would never be referred to as the Soviet Union again. This was the first World Cup where the country qualified as Russia. Yugoslavia was suspended from international competition in 1992. This suspension was part of the United Nations sanctions against the country due to the Yugoslav Wars. The suspension ended in 1994, but it was too late to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. Euro winners in 1992, Denmark did not qualify, and neither did England and France.
In their five previous World Cup finals, Bulgaria had never won a game. Their fourth place finish was a surprise. Under coach Dimitar Penev, Bulgaria surprised many soccer fans. Bulgaria had never even won a game at the World Cup finals prior to this tournament. Led by top scorer Hristo Stoichkov they defeated the reigning World Cup winning side Germany in the quarter-finals while on their journey to the 3rd place play-off. In the World Cup 1994 quarter-final, the most exciting match, Brazil had to play the Netherlands, with players like Dennis Bergkamp, Frank Rijkaard, and Marc Overmars. At the beginning of the second half, they scored twice, with Bebeto’s famous celebration, pretending to carry a baby, in homage to his son who had just been born.
Then the Dutch equalized with Dennis Bergkamp and Aron Winter. It was then that left-back Branco, also the target of criticism, was fouled outside the box, took the ball, and scored via the free kick. Brazil also had to beat Sweden in the semis, who finished 3rd. After five successive World Cup Finals containing Argentina or West Germany, or both, the 1994 World Cup Final consisted of different countries. On the 17th of July 1994, the Final was played in Rose Bowl, Los Angeles, with an attendance of 94,194. For the first time in history, the world title would be decided on penalties. What no one expected happened when Roberto Baggio went up to take his penalty. Italy’s World Cup hopes relied on the forward to score his penalty.
The player responsible for carrying the not-so-brilliant Azzurra on his back ended up a villain when he sent his shot over the bar. Brazil was the 1994 World Cup winner and the first nation to win the FIFA World Cup four times.
1994 World Cup Facts And Records
Dates: June 17 – July 17, 1994
Final: Brazil – Italy 3-2 (penalties)
3rd place: Sweden – Bulgaria 4-0
Host cities: 9
Matches played: 52
Top scorers: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), Oleg Salenko (Russia) (6 goals)