Backpacking Football Geek: Who Won the 1942 World Cup?

“Mussolini hangs from a butcher’s hook” – Richey James Edwards.

Backpacking Football Geek: Who Won the World Cup In 1942?

Backpacking Football Geek: Who Won the World Cup In 1942?

I love the World Cup. It is the most magnificent tournament in the world. It is the reason I fell in love with travel and football all in one. Mexico 86. I had the Panini sticker album, my Dad bought me a Northern Ireland scarf, a Northern Ireland shirt and a set of green and white Northern Ireland sweatbands. I also had a Belfast Telegraph wallchart, an official programme (with Alan McDonald on the front), a green and white Northern Ireland football and a green and white pair of old goalkeeper gloves. My heroes were from the 1986 World Cup. Norman Whiteside, Pat Jennings, Billy Hamilton, Colin Clarke and Gerry Armstrong were the first names of footballers I knew. In that World Cup, I also enjoyed watching Maradona, Gary Lineker, Jorge Burruchaga, Hugo Sanchez, Joel Bats, Rinat Dasaev and Careca.

Drawing Maradona and the Norn Iron page of my Mexico 86 Panini album

On television with Dad, Raymond and Neil, I watched Northern Ireland play against Brazil, Spain and Algeria. I loved it. Suddenly I started to research and borrow library books on football and delve into World Cup history. Since those childhood days, my interest for the World Cup hasn’t waned. I got more and more interested and eventually, 80 years after the first World Cup (1930), I visited the place where it all began…I was in Uruguay…

Read about my trip to Estadio Centenario in Montevideo in Uruguay

Flying the Northern Ireland flag inside Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay.

montevideo uruguay norn iron flag

Flying the Northern Ireland flag at one of the matches watching Penarol in Montevideo, Uruguay – where the World Cup began

In fact, I have now been to four World Cups and one European Championships. I was at the Under 20s World Cup in Canada in 2007 and again in Poland in 2019. In between those two, I attended the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Along the way, I also backpacked to over 150 football stadiums, 700+ matches, Euro 2016 and I kissed the thing…

Backpacking Football Geek: Who Won the World Cup In 1942?

Now for the peculiar. The world is in lockdown, traveldown, meltdown, shutdown etc. We are not whackpacking anywhere – there is NO football on at all – COVID-19, Coronavirus has destroyed our football lifestyle. I am staying at home in my flat in Warszawa, Poland. Incidentally, Poland EASILY has the infrastructure to host a FIFA World Cup – I am surprised it hasn’t been here yet. Ample stadiums, football reputation, twice World Cup bronze medalists, Olympic winners, it has huge cities, loads of great bars, hotels, restaurants etc. One day, Poland will host the full World Cup (we had the under 20s one last year – Ukraine won it). So, the World Cup began in 1930. Here are the early winners and finals…

1930 Uruguay 4-2 Argentina
1934 Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia
1938 Italy 4 -2 Hungary

The 1938 World Cup in France – early days.

The FIFA World Cup has been running every four years since 1930 without fail, right? Well no, in fact, officially there weren’t any tournaments held between Italy’s victory in 1938 and Uruguay’s triumph in 1950. Indeed, there was once a gap of twelve years without a single World Cup tournament!! And even in 1950, there was no actual World Cup final, meaning that West Germany’s 3-2 win over Hungary in 1954 was the first World Cup final for a whoppaday 16 years. Don’t mention the war…

Maradona’s dream in 1986

16 years with no final, and 12 years with no tournament??

Yet the war ‘only’ lasted 6 years, from 1939 to 1945…so why was there such a long gap in World Cups? Was there an alternative football tournament as a substitute for the World Cup? Who won the World Cup in 1942 and 1946? I needed to know the answer. I couldn’t award the trophy as such:

1930 Uruguay
1934 Italy
1938 Italy
1942 Italy?
1946 Italy?
1950 Uruguay
It just wouldn’t be fair to award the trophy to Italy for a 16 year period from 1934 to 1950. They only won it twice in that period, not fource. So what happened after Italy won the thing in 1938? It was research time…

“And I said hey, what’s going on?” – 4 Non Blondes.

Italy v Hungary in the 1938 World Cup Final

The aftermath of Italy’s triumph at the 1938 World Cup

Italy won the 1938 World Cup with some aplomb, to retain the trophy. This time, they beat Hungary 4-2 in the final in France. Nobody knew what would happen next. The next tournament was scheduled to be held in South America in 1942, with no confirmed host just yet. However, things didn’t go according to plan, in football, in love, in life.

“Lebensraum” – Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s Nazis riding through Ulica Długa in Gdańsk, Poland in the 1930s

I did my gory war stuff as a long term backpacker and saw some chilling impacts of war. Perhaps I milked death zones too much in my desire to understand it all.

My visit to Gori, Stalin’s Town, GEORGIA
My visit to Braunau Am Inn, Hitler’s Town, AUSTRIA
German Death Camp visit in Majdanek, POLAND
German Death Camp visit in Stutthof, POLAND
German Death Camp visit in Auschwitz, POLAND
My visit to Westerplatte in Gdańsk, POLAND
My visit to the Post Office in Gdańsk, POLAND
My visit to the Genocide Centre in Sarajevo, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
My visit to Saddam Hussein’s House of Horrors, Sulimaniyeh, IRAQ
My visit to the Genocide Centre in Kigali, RWANDA
My visit to Tuol Sleng Concentration Camp, Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA

My visit to Choeung Ek, Killing Fields of CAMBODIA
My visit to the Genocide Centre in Yerevan, ARMENIA
My visit to the place where Mussolini hanged in Milan, ITALY…

The spot where Mussolini hanged

Mussolini hangs from a butcher’s hook.

So enough of the war, who actually won the 1942 World Cup?

Record books show that no one won the World Cup in 1942, FIFA declared it as non existent due to the war, but that’s not the entire story. The FIFA World Cup was set to take place in 1942 in either Nazi Germany or Brazil. However, the South Americans were outraged that Germany was even considered, as the previous two World Cups (1934 in Italy, 1938 in France) had also been hosted in Europe. The tournament was supposed to be rotated fairly – Uruguay hosted the inaugural tournament in 1930 and with 1934 and 1938 in Europe, 1942 HAD to be in South America surely. But by September 1939, the world had changed. FIFA still hadn’t made the decision between Nazi Germany and Brazil when European hostilities broke out when the Germans invaded Poland on 1st September 1939. This was the start of the Second World War. As a result, it was decided that the 1942 World Cup would be cancelled. But that answer wasn’t good enough for me, a football geek. There had to be some alternative. I got spinning a record and went to find out, coming up with THREE possible 1942 World Cups…

Northern Ireland’s 1986 World Cup song.

Case One – The South American Argument

An unofficial 1942 World Cup was held in Patagonia, Argentina

I present you with Case One – The South American Argument. Did football stop completely due to the war? Of course not, football was still played in parts of the world albeit less organised. Despite FIFA’s refusal to host, endorse or award a trophy in 1942 or 1946, historians have often tried to research whether any “Alternative World Cup” was held unofficially; and whether the winner or best team from such a tournament stakes a genuine claim for being the 1942 World Champions. Research shows that during 1942 and there have been two cases put forward and I agree with both of them and believe that one of these winning teams is actual the 1942 world champion, I will look at both cases here – firstly the one from Patagonia, Argentina and secondly, the one from Nazi Germany. To add a bit of extra spice to the argument, and just for a bit of biased fun, I also added in a third case, which will come into play again for the 1946 World Cup. First, have a look at this photo below. Yes, this is a photo from the 1942 World Cup!! The World Cup you thought didn’t exist!

Case One - The South American Argument An unofficial 1942 World Cup was held in Patagonia, Argentina

Case One – The South American Argument
An unofficial 1942 World Cup was held in Patagonia, Argentina

Whether you believe the above photo and the below video and the numerous archives from Argentina and Chile or not is up to you. However, I WANT to believe it happened and so, I go with it. In Patagonia, a land mass which covers both Argentina and Chile, there was an unofficial world football tournament in 1942. It involved twelve teams and as the picture above shows, there was a trophy as a replica of the official Jules Rimet trophy, the original World Cup, and below a poster to advertise the “Mundial de Futbol: Patagonia, 1942”. That is good enough for me, this was surely the World Cup of 1942…

Case One - The South American Argument An unofficial 1942 World Cup was held in Patagonia, Argentina

Case One – The South American Argument
An unofficial 1942 World Cup was held in Patagonia, Argentina

This “World Cup” of Patagonia (Argentina and Chile) took place in mid-November 1942. The tournament was the brainchild of the Balkan Royal Patagonia Minister of Religion, Count Vladimir von Otz. Yes there was a World War on, but many teams were invited and 12 teams were in it, as legend has it. Teams representing (but not affiliated officially with) Italy, Poland, Germany, Brazil, Scotland, England, USSR / Soviet Union, Uruguay, Spain, Argentina, Chile and France all played. It is also written that local teams Real Patagonia and Mapuche Indians competed in the tournament. Those teams are generally filled with players who are immigrants, miners and laborers. There are not many books or even online mentions of this tournament, but I did as much research as I could online about it. For the football geek who loves the wacaday journeymen of the world, this phantom or genuine world cup holds intrigue. Lorenzo Garzella and Filippo Macelloni made a movie about this ‘lost World Cup’, which was also featured in a book by Daniele Mazzocca and Pier Andrea Nocella.

As I see it, this tournament stakes a genuine claim to being the “1942 World Cup” there are a few great links to read up on it:

Yes, so who won the Patagonia World Cup of 1942?

Archival evidence is sketchy to say the least, photography even less so. However, the opening match was allegedly held on 8th November 1942 between Italy and the Real Patagonia team. Author David Wood in Football and Literature in South America reports on the winners of this World Cup in a surprising final that – “Mapuche Indians are champions after they beat Germany 2-1 in the final”! However, no one really has an answer as to which country won that unofficial World Cup in Argentina. So I have to roll with this one…

1942 Unofficial World Cup Final – Mapuche Indians 2-1 Germany.

However, In Germany, there was another opinion of what might have been the 1942 World Cup…

Case Two – The European Argument

An unofficial 1942 World Cup was held in Nazi Germany

So you read that there was an actual World Cup of 12 teams held in South America in 1942. That seems to be the nearest thing we have to a “World Cup” in 1942. 12 teams is a decent number, indeed only 1 team less than the first ever World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay, so to all intents and purposes it was the real 1942 World Cup. But the Nazi Germans wanted to host a World Cup once FIFA cancelled it, and legend says they did just that, in 1942 – yes, in the middle of the war – Hitler was ordering Germans to attend stadiums and support Nazi Germany to triumph. After wins against Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, the Nazi German team lined up against Sweden in Berlin’s Olympiastadion on the 30th of September 1942 for the “1942 World Cup final”. The German team had previously lost 2-1 to Switzerland on Hitler’s birthday and players were warned if they lost any more matches, they would be sent to the Eastern Front. So the match with Sweden was some kind of ‘unofficial World Cup Final’, and one of the biggest football matches in Europe during the Second World War. Allegedly!

The Sweden team of the 1940s – the real World Champions in 1942?

Was Germany v. Sweden the unofficial 1942 World Cup Final?

Even though FIFA didn’t organise and recognise a World Cup in 1942, this match held in Nazi Germany in front of almost 100,000 fans was billed as the clash of the two best football teams in Europe – Nazi Germany and Sweden. The match has some official yet unofficial status however – it recognised by the Unofficial Football World Championships as an “unofficial World Cup final”!! And also the details of this match are not sketchy. There is a clear winner and the match really happened. Here’s the mini match report.

Sweden remained neutral during the Second World War and were given permission from the British forces to travel to Berlin for this “World Cup Final” v. Germany. The stadium was packed with 98,000 German supporters, and Sweden went 1-0 up. The Germans fought back to lead 2-1 with goals from Lehner and Klingler, in control and destined to win their first ever World Cup. However, the Swedes had other ideas. Henry Carlsson levelled the scores to make it 2-2 for half-time. Then in the 71st minute, the unthinkable happened as Malte Martensson won the match for Sweden. No official trophy was handed out, and certainly no pictures show Sweden lifting any cup, but some die-hard Swedes still claim this as their World Cup victory.

1942 Unofficial World Cup Final – Nazi Germany 2-3 Sweden.

This does resonate as Sweden did have a superb team in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Eventually though, in 1958 Sweden did take home a World Cup runner up, losing to Brazil at home in the final. This victory for Sweden was also the beginning of the end of the Nazi German football team. From November 1942, the Nazi party suspended all national football team games and most players were forced to join the armed forces. There is one final argument…

Case Three – The British Argument

Use the British Home Nations as the unofficial 1942 World Cup

The third and final option here, holds not much weight…and is really just for fun. But with all the scenarios going around of the current 2019-2020 league season being cancelled, voided, postponed etc., speculation got my mind wandering. Another option could be to suggest that the 1942 British Championship between the world’s four oldest footballing nations can be used as the World Cup! After all from 1884 – 1930, the British Championships were the main international football tournament, (as well as the Olympics which I already excluded from my possibilities – see below on Italy). However, it appears that during the Second World War, the British Home Championships were cancelled. By default on alphabetical order, England are first with Northern Ireland as runner-up and Scotland in third, with Wales fourth. But as much as I want Northern Ireland to be World runners up, that would be ludicrous to award it as such – not a ball was kicked!

Were Northern Ireland runners up in the 1942 World Cup without kicking a ball?

Or we could use the 1939 British Championship placing, which would see England also as World Champions (on goal difference), with Wales as runner-up, Scotland in third and Northern Ireland in fourth…but that is a bit elitist to not include the other countries around the world. The other issue with including this is that the tournament was held in four different countries, something which never happens at the official World Cup (even 3 countries as hosts in 2026 seems crazy). Plus, as it is round robin style, there was no final (though admittedly the official 1950 World Cup did the same).

The 1939 British Home Championship – not the World Cup

And finally, an argument for Italy and Uruguay…

As a final note, Uruguay won the South American Championship (Copa America) in 1942 after winning six from six in the round robin tournament, scoring 21, conceding just twice. However, this was clearly only ever classed as the South American championship with no reference to it being a “World Cup” so the wacaday dreamer in me prefers my own three cases…

And Italy won the final Olympics before the Second World War (in 1936), but since that preceded their 1938 World Cup win, there is no need to even delve into that. We could award Italy the 1942 World Cup based on the fact that they had won the previous three global football tournaments anyway.

So the winner of the 1942 World Cup was…

This is my blog and my article so I decided the winner! I would award the 1942 World Cup to Mapuche Indians. They appear to have won the argument out of the few that I looked at – they won an international football tournament in 1942 (correct year for the World Cup) that was held in a single country. There were 12 teams in it and they beat Germany in the final and received the Jules Rimet trophy (or a very good fake replica to it). The biggest issue is that there is no official country as Mapuche Indians on FIFA or UN, so whose door do we knock to present them with the trophy, all these years on?? We can’t so we won’t. The 1942 World Cup will have to remain as a virtual World Cup!! There is no team photo so here is the flag of the 1942 World Champions, Mapuche Indians!

Mapuche Indians World Champions of Football 1942

Mapuche Indians World Champions of Football 1942!

Jonny’s Fantasy 1942 World Cup

Just for fun though, after doing all that research, I decided there was another way to decide on the 1942 World Cup winners. I would use the details from my research, and make six groups of my own, a 24 team tournament which actually worked out perfectly as it included the exact number of teams from each of:
– The 4 British Home Nations – last international tournament before war broke out (1939)
– The 4 Olympic Semi Finalists – last Olympics before war broke out (1936)
– The 4 World Cup Semi Finalists – last World Cup before war broke out (1938)
– The 4 top Copa America Nations – happened as normal (1942)
– The 5 remaining teams from the Unofficial Patagonia 1942 World Cup
– Nazi Germany and the 3 teams Nazi Germany claimed to have played in 1942

Here are the teams that played in the 1942 World Cup, and the positions based on results I could gather from 1936-1942 (in some cases, I had to go back as far as 1913). I also made mock groups…ensuring that each country only appeared once of course. The strike throughs denote teams that I already placed in an earlier group.

Group Phase /First Round:

Group A (I selected these 4 from British nations from 1939 – the nearest British Championships to 1942)
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales.
(this exact number of four was perfect).

Group B (I selected the 4 latest Olympics last 4 – 1936)
Italy, Austria, Norway, Poland.
(this exact number of four was perfect).

Group C (I selected the 4 latest World Cup semi finalists from 1938)
Italy, Hungary, Brazil, Sweden. + Uruguay
(this exact number of four had to change to three, as Italy were already in Group B, so one more team was needed so I added Uruguay by default, as they won the Copa America in 1942).

Group D (I selected these 4 teams mentioned in the alleged Nazi Germany games at their “1942 World Cup”)
Original Group – Nazi Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden.
(this number was six, but as Hungary and Sweden were already in Group D, the group of four was perfect, however Nazi Germany were banned * prior to the tournament, so Paraguay, 4th in Copa America in 1942, were added)
Nazi Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Paraguay, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden.

Group E (I selected the first 4 teams mentioned in the alleged Patagonia 1942 World Cup)
Italy, Poland, Germany, Brazil, Scotland, England, USSR / Soviet Union, Uruguay, Spain, Argentina.
(this has a flaw as the Germany team in Patagonia was not the same one as the Nazi Germany team in Group D)

Group F (I selected the final 4 teams mentioned in the alleged Patagonia 1942 World Cup)
Chile, France, Real Patagonia, Mapuche Indians.
(These remaining teams ridiculously made up exactly 4, so I had 6 perfect groups of 4!)

*Prior to the tournament, I decided to ban Nazi Germany as they had illegally started a war against other competing teams in the tournament. The Germany team (from Patagonia 1942) still competed and were unaffected by the expulsion of Nazi Germany. I replaced Nazi Germany with Paraguay (who finished fourth in the Copa America in 1942 as the top three – Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina were already in previous groups). It was very logical to add Paraguay in such circumstances.

How did I decide the quarter finals? I chose the 6 group winners based on prior tournaments and results, that was easy. I then added the next two best teams based on their final matches before September 1942. By continuing to play and win matches in Belfast and Buenos Aires in 1942, Northern Ireland and Argentina were added to the Quarter finals. There may have been a slight bias here, as I am from Northern Ireland, but that is perfectly acceptable, as it is my blog.

1942 World Cup Quarter Finalists (Group position – reason)

1.England (Group A winners – 1939 British Champions)
2.Italy (Group B winners – 1936 Olympics and 1938 World Cup Winners)
3.Uruguay (Group C winners – 1942 Copa America winners is better than Hungary’s runner up in 1938 World Cup)
4.Switzerland (Group D winners – this was the weakest group but Switzerland won as they were 1938 Quarter Finalists)
5.Germany (Group E winners – Germany and Nazi Germany were both in the “unofficial 1942 World Cup finals”)
6.Mapuche Indians (Group F winners – 1942 Patagonia World Cup Winners)
7.Argentina (Best Runner Up – Argentina finished second in the Copa America in 1942)
8.Northern Ireland (Best Runner Up – a Northern Ireland XI beat a British Army XI in Belfast in 1942)

1 v 5, 2 v 6, 3 v 7, 4 v 8.

1942 World Cup Quarter Finals results (reason)

England 6-3 Germany (this was a tough one to call as Germany made the “Unofficial Patagonia World Cup of 1942 final”, but I awarded it to England based on their most recent 6-3 meeting, 1938)
Italy 0-1 Mapuche Indians (Mapuche Indians won the “Unofficial Patagonia World Cup of 1942”, Italy hadn’t won anything since 1938)
Uruguay 3-0 Argentina (Uruguay were Copa America Champions so they won, I made it more convincing as they had also won the World Cup and Olympica before)
Switzerland 0-1 Northern Ireland (these two teams didn’t meet until 1964, so this was also a tough callNorthern Ireland were awarded the win based on the most international trophies won – the British Championship in 1913)

Semi Finalists 

England, Mapuche Indians, Uruguay, Northern Ireland

1 v 3, 2 v 4.

1942 World Cup Semi Finals results (reason)

England 0-1 Uruguay (Copa America win in 1942 beat British Championship win of 1939)
Mapuche Indians 1-0 Northern Ireland (Unofficial Patagonia World Cup of 1942 was far more recent than British Championship win of 1913)

1942 World Cup Third/Fourth Place Match

Northern Ireland 3-2 England (this was simple – I used the exact scoreline in the match in 1942 – dates were perfect – Ireland (which was basically a Northern Ireland team) v. British Army (which was basically an England team)

1942 World Cup Final

Uruguay v. Mapuche Indians

How I decided the winner…this was just far too tough to call, as the only information I had on Mapuche Indians is that they won their only ever World Cup final 2-1 v. Germany – the unofficial World Cup in Patagonia in 1942. However, Uruguay had just won the Copa America in 1942, so I added those results together. This was an issue though, as I could make it 2-1 to Mapuche Indians in their final of 1942 as their “leg” but the Copa America that year didn’t have a final!! So I had to go back to 1930 and Uruguay’s World Cup win to put the results together. Here is the final score…

Mapuche Indians 2-1 Uruguay
Uruguay 4-2 Mapuche Indians

Combined score – Uruguay 5-4 Mapuche Indians

World Cup Winners – Uruguay
World Cup runners up – Mapuche Indians
World Cup third place – Northern Ireland
World Cup fourth place – England

So after all that research, the 1942 World Cup Champions were actually…


Uruguay – 1942 World Cup winners

I will also report on who won the 1946 World Cup.

Every World Cup final (1930 – 2030)

1930 Uruguay 4-2 Argentina
1934 Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia
1938 Italy 4 -2 Hungary
1942 Sweden 3-2 Nazi Germany / Mapuche Indians 2-1 Germany (/ Uruguay 5-4 Mapuche Indians) *
1946 Argentina 2-0 Brazil *
1950 Uruguay 2-1 Brazil +
1954 West Germany 3-2 Hungary
1958 Brazil 5-2 Sweden
1962 Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia
1966 England 4-2 West Germany
1970 Brazil 4-1 Italy
1974 West Germany 2-1 The Netherlands
1978 Argentina 3-1 The Netherlands
1982 Italy 3-1 West Germany
1986 Argentina 3-2 West Germany
1990 West Germany 1-0 Argentina
1994 Brazil 3-2 Italy (penalties – match was a sh*t 0-0)
1998 France 3-0 Brazil
2002 Brazil 2-0 Germany
2006 Italy 5 – 3 France (penalties – match was 1-1)
2010 Spain 1-0 The Netherlands
2014 Germany 1-0 Argentina (I was at this match)
2018 France 4-2 Croatia
2022 Northern Ireland 3-0 Qatar
2026 Northern Ireland 3-0 United States of America
2030 Northern Ireland 5-4 Uruguay (AET)

+ Officially this was NOT the World Cup final, instead the last match of the 1950 World Cup which by coincidence was between two teams, Uruguay and Brazil who could both win the World Cup that day. A draw would have been enough for Brazil to win the trophy, but Uruguay bate them!
* Officially accoring to FIFA there was no World Cup held in 1942 and 1946. These wins are only claimed by Sweden and Argentina. Mapuche Indians have never claimed to have won it, neither have Uruguay. Understandably, nobody else apart from me recognises such winners.

I’ll see you all at Qatar 2022, supporting Northern Ireland…

mexico 86 album

I completed my Mexico 86 Panini Sticker album including Northern Ireland, and Maradona but I lost it/it was stolen.

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