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 Union, also qualified. The defending champions West Germany were united with their East German counterparts, representing the unified Germany for the first time since the 1938 World Cup.
As a result of the strong performances by African teams in 1990, Africa was given three spots for the first time, with Nigeria joining Cameroon and Morocco.
Norway qualified for the first time since 1938, Bolivia for the first time since 1950, and Switzerland for the first time since 1966.
The qualification campaigns of both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were affected by political events. The nation of Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1992, and the team completed its qualifying group under the name "Representation of Czechs and Slovaks" (RCS), but failed to qualify for the finals. Yugoslavia was suspended from international competition in 1992 as part of United Nations sanctions against the country as a result of the Yugoslav Wars.
The sanctions were not lifted until 1994, by which time it was no longer possible for the team to qualify. Chile's suspension from the 1990 FIFA World Cup, following the forced interruption of their qualification game against Brazil, extended to the 1994 qualifiers as well.
Japan failed to qualify after the "Agony of Doha" against Iraq, losing out to Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Among other teams who failed to qualify were Uruguay and England- the latter being semi-finalists, and finishing in fourth place in 1990. Denmark, Portugal, Hungary, and France failed to qualify for the second successive tournament, while Scotland failed to qualify for the first time since 1970.
This was the only World Cup finals since 1938, for which neither England nor Scotland (nor indeed any of the British home nations) qualified. The Republic of Ireland qualified for a second successive World Cup finals tournament. As of 2016, this was the last time that Bolivia qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals.
Three nations bid for host duties: United States, Brazil and Morocco. The vote was held in Zurich on 4 July 1988, and only took one round with the United States bid receiving a little over half of the votes by the Exco members. FIFA hoped that by staging the world's most prestigious tournament there, it would lead to a growth of interest in the sport. One condition FIFA imposed was the creation of a professional soccer league; Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 and began operating in 1996. There was some initial controversy about awarding the World Cup to a country where soccer was not a nationally popular sport and at the time, in 1988, the U.S. did not have a professional league of its own anymore; the North American Soccer League, set up in the 1970s, had folded in 1984 after fading attendance figures. Despite the controversy, the U.S. staged a hugely successful tournament, with average attendance of nearly 69,000 breaking a record that surpassed the 1966 FIFA World Cup average attendance of 51,000, thanks to the large seating capacities the stadiums in the United States provided for the spectators in comparison to the smaller venues 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 from 24 to 32 teams at the 1998 World Cup in France. Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Italy and the United States were seeded for the final draw that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 19 December 1993.
The format of the competition stayed the same as in the 1990 World Cup: 24 teams qualified, divided into six groups of four. Sixteen teams would qualify for the knockout phase: 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 soccer after the defensive display of many teams at Italia '90.
The tournament saw the end of Diego Maradona's World Cup career, having played in the 1982, the 1986 – where he led Argentina to the World Cup title – and the 1990 World Cups, where he led them to the final. Maradona was expelled from the tournament after he failed a drug test which uncovered ephedrine, a weight loss drug, in his blood. Colombia, despite high expectations due to their style and impressive qualifying campaign, failed to advance from the round robin. The team was supposedly dogged by influence from betting syndicates and drug cartels, with coach Francisco Maturana receiving death threats over squad selection. Defender Andrés Escobar was a tragic figure of this tournament, as in the group stage game against the United States, he scored an own goal that eliminated his team. Escobar was shot to death outside a bar in a Medellín suburb only 10 days later, apparently in retaliation for the own goal.
On the field, Bulgaria was one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. The Bulgarians had never won a game in five previous World Cup finals but, led by Hristo Stoichkov who eventually shared the tournament lead in scoring, they made a surprising run; Bulgaria won two of their three group games to qualify for the second round, where they advanced with a 3–1 penalty shoot-out win over Mexico. Bulgaria then faced the reigning world champions, Germany, in the quarterfinals, where goals from Stoichkov and Yordan Letchkov gave them a 2–1 victory. Bulgaria went on to finish in fourth place after losing to Italy and Sweden, in the semifinals and third-place game, respectively.
The United States, relatively new to the game of soccer, advanced to the second round as one of the best third-place teams. They played Brazil and, despite a 1–0 defeat, the United States' performance was considered a great success in their soccer history.
Brazil's win over the hosts helped take them to the final against Italy. While Brazil's path was relatively smooth as they defeated the Netherlands in the quarterfinals and Sweden in the semis, the Italians had made hard work of reaching the final. During the group stage Italy struggled and narrowly advanced to the next round, despite losing 1–0 to the Republic of Ireland. Italian playmaker Roberto Baggio, who was expected to be one of the stars of the tournament, had not yet scored a goal. During the Round of 16 game against Nigeria, Italy was trailing 1–0 in the dying minutes when Baggio scored the tying goal, forcing the game into extra time. He scored again with a penalty kick to send Italy through. Baggio carried the Italians from there, scoring the game-winning goal in the quarterfinal against Spain, and both goals in Italy's semifinal victory over Bulgaria.
The third-place playoff was set between Bulgaria and Sweden, the team which scored more goals than any other in this World Cup. These teams had also previously met in the qualifying group. Sweden won, 4–0. Swedish forward Tomas Brolin was named to the All-star team.
The final game at the Rose Bowl was tense, but devoid of scoring chances. It was the second time in 24 years that the two nations had met in a final. Despite the strategies implemented by 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 crossbar, and the Brazilians were crowned champions for the fourth time. After the game ended, then-Vice-President Al Gore hosted the awarding ceremony by handing Brazilian captain Dunga the prestigious trophy; the Brazilian national team dedicated the title to the deceased Formula One champion and countryman Ayrton Senna, who had died two and a half months prior.
The tournament's Golden Boot went jointly to Bulgaria's Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko of Russia, the latter becoming the first player to score five goals in a game, coming in a 6–1 victory against Cameroon. Both players scored six goals in the tournament. Brazilian striker Romário, with five goals, won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
The official mascot of this World Cup was Striker, the World Cup Pup, a dog wearing a red, white and blue soccer uniform with a soccer ball. Striker was designed by the Warner Bros. animation team. A dog was picked as the mascot because dogs are a common pet in the United States.
The games were played in nine cities across the country. All stadiums had a capacity of at least 53,000, and their usual tenants were professional or college American football teams. The venue used most was the Rose Bowl in Pasadena near Los Angeles, with eight games, among them the final, the third-place game, a semi-final and one game in the round of 16. The least used was the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit, the first indoor stadium used in a World Cup, with four Round 1 games. The Pontiac Silverdome was also the only venue of the 9 used that did not host any knockout round matches.
Because of the massive land size of the main 48 states of the United States, the match locations were often far apart; making traveling long and gruelling for teams and their traveling fans. Some teams in Groups A and B had to travel from Los Angeles or San Francisco all the way to Detroit and back again, covering 2,300 mi (3,680 km) and 3 time zones one way. The teams in Groups C and D only played in Foxborough (Boston), Chicago and Dallas – a trip from Boston to Dallas is 2,000 miles (3,200 km), but only covers one time zone; Chicago is in the same time zone as Dallas but is still 1,000 miles away from both Dallas and Boston. The teams in Groups E and F's travel was a bit easier – they played exclusively in East Rutherford, New Jersey (New York City), Washington and Orlando. A few teams such as Cameroon and Italy did not have to travel great distances to cities to play matches.
The variety of climate in different cities all over the United States made playing conditions very difficult; aside from Boston, San Francisco and occasionally Chicago, most matches were played in very hot and/or humid conditions. Although playing in the dry heat of Los Angeles and the extreme humidity of Washington and New York proved to be difficult, the cities with the most oppressive conditions were the southern cities of Orlando and Dallas. The Floridian tropical climate of Orlando meant all matches there were played in temperatures of 95 °F (35 °C) or above with humidity at 90% or more (the temperature there during the group stage match between Ireland and Mexico was 105 °F (41 °C)) thanks to the mid-day start times. Dallas was not much different: in the semi-arid heat of a Texas summer, temperatures exceeded 100 °F (38 °C) Fahrenheit during mid-day, when matches there were staged in the open-type Cotton Bowl meant that conditions were just as oppressive there as they were in Orlando. Detroit also proved to be difficult: the Pontiac Silverdome did not have a working cooling system and because it was an interior dome-shaped stadium, the air could not escape through circulation, so temperatures inside the stadium would climb past 90 °F (32 °C) with 90% humidity. United States midfielder Thomas Dooley described the Silverdome as "the worst place I have ever played at".
Los Angeles and Dallas served as the primary international broadcast centers.
Teams were selected as usual following FIFA rules with 22 players. Greece, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Spain were the only countries who had all their players coming from domestic teams, while the Republic of Ireland and Nigeria had no players from domestic teams. Saudi Arabia were the only team with no players from European teams.
The composition of the four pots was based on the FIFA World Ranking (established in 1993) and on the qualified teams' results in the three previous World Cups. The teams' pre-tournament rankings are shown in parenthesis.
The draw for the tournament took place at the Las Vegas Convention Centre on 19 December 1993, officiated by general-secretary Sepp Blatter. Teams were drawn by German legend Franz Beckenbauer, heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield and comedian and actor Robin Williams (who put on a surgical glove and said to Blatter "if you'll turn your head to the side and cough" before drawing the teams). Numbers for placement in the group were drawn by actor Beau Bridges, Women's World Cup champion Michelle Akers, model Carol Alt, artist Peter Max, racing driver Mario Andretti and Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton.
The opening ceremony of the World Cup was held on 17 June at Chicago's Soldier Field. Numerous dignitaries attended, including United States President Bill Clinton, Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl and President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. The ceremony was emceed by Oprah Winfrey, who fell off the dais in introducing Diana Ross, who gave a musical performance. Ross was also supposed to kick a soccer ball into the goal from the penalty spot at the beginning of her performance, with the goal then splitting in two as part of a pre-orchestrated stunt. She kicked the ball wide to the left, missing the goal, but the goalposts were collapsed anyway in accordance with the stunt plans. In addition, Daryl Hall and Jon Secada also gave musical performances.
All times are Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4)
In the following tables:Pld = total games played
W = total games won
D = total games drawn (tied)
L = total games lost
GF = total goals scored (goals for)
GA = total goals conceded (goals against)
GD = goal difference (GF−GA)
Pts = total points accumulated
The Group A game between the United States and Switzerland was the first ever to take place indoors, played under the roof at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Following the tournament, Colombian defender Andrés Escobar was shot dead on his return to Colombia, after his own goal had contributed to his country's elimination.
Victories against Colombia and the United States (in front of a 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 allowed Switzerland to move ahead of the United States on goal difference, although the hosts qualified for the second round as one of the best third-placed teams.
Switzerland's 4–1 victory over Romania came nearly 40 years to the date of Switzerland's last World Cup victory, which was 23 June 1954 and that was also a 4–1 victory, on that occasion over Italy. The United States' 2–1 victory over Colombia was its first World Cup victory since 29 June 1950 when it upset England 1–0 in the 1950 World Cup.
Group B produced two of the four semifinalists 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 game 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 game 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 game. 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. Sweden's 3–1 victory over Russia was the nation's first World Cup victory since 3 July 1974.
As was the case with Group B, Group C would only send two teams into the Round of 16 as Spain and defending champions Germany progressed to round two. Coming from two goals down with four minutes left to snatch a 2–2 draw against Spain, the South 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 was held to a 0–0 draw against Bolivia in their other group game when a win would have seen them through. Spain's late implosion against the South Koreans effectively decided that it would be Germany who won the group and not them.
Germany, who defeated Bolivia 1–0 in the tournament's opening game, finished with seven points. Spain had to settle for second place despite leading in all three games.
Bolivia did make history in the World Cup as Erwin Sanchez scored the nation's first ever World Cup goal after not scoring at both the 1930 and 1950 World Cups.
Argentina collected a maximum of six points from their opening two games after beating Greece 4–0 in Foxboro before coming from behind to overcome the feisty Nigerians 2–1 on the same field four days later, yet still only finished third. The game against Greece had been won in style thanks mainly to a hat-trick from Gabriel Batistuta, yet it was the other goal in the game – from Diego Maradona – that hit the headlines. Nigeria had been very impressive on their World Cup debut, and despite the narrow loss to Argentina, had emerged as group winners following victories against Bulgaria and Greece, the latter in which Nigeria doubled its lead late on a goal from Daniel Amokachi – a goal that would allow Nigeria to top its group. Maradona only played with Argentina during their first two games, both in Foxborough (playing Greece and Nigeria); he was thrown out of the tournament after testing positive for ephedrine.
Having qualified for the tournament through a last-gasp goal against France, Bulgaria surprised many people, as the nation had never even won a game at the World Cup finals prior to this tournament. Despite losing its opening game 3–0 to Nigeria, Bulgaria came back in style with a 4–0 win over Greece (who had suffered exactly the same fate five days earlier against Argentina), and a win against Argentina had seen them advance. Argentina had actually been winning the group going into injury time, while Bulgaria played the last 25 minutes with 10 men; however, a 91st-minute header from Nasko Sirakov meant that Argentina dropped two places and finished third. Nigeria won the group on goal difference. Bulgaria's victory over Argentina earned them second place.
Group E remains the only group in World Cup history in which all four teams finished with 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 quarterfinals of the previous World Cup. The next day in Washington, Norway played its first World Cup game since 1938 and Kjetil Rekdal's goal five minutes from time proved decisive in an equally tense encounter as Norway beat Mexico.
Mexico, however, was much more comfortable playing in Orlando, the setting for their next game against Ireland, where the heat and humidity 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 regain concentration in time to score six minutes from the end of the game. Though Ireland still lost the game 2–1, Aldridge's goal proved crucial in the final group standings.
The previous day in New Jersey, 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 was still able to salvage an important 1–0 victory. Norway would ultimately pay a price for their inability to take advantage of Pagliuca's dismissal. With the four teams level on points, the final two group games 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; midfielders Massaro and Bernal traded strikes as Italy and Mexico played to a 1–1 draw.
Those results meant that Mexico won the group on goals scored, with three in the group. With Ireland and Italy also progressing having finished with identical records, Ireland finished ahead of Italy because of Ireland's victory over Italy. Norway's shortcomings in attack ultimately let them down, and they exited the tournament with only one goal.
Just as happened to Argentina in Group D, Belgium endured the same fate in Group F. Despite winning its first two World Cup games 1–0 to Morocco and the Netherlands, Belgium finished third as, in an upset, it lost to tournament newcomers Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the third game. During that game, Saudi player Saaed Al-Owairian ran from his own half through a maze of Belgian players to score the game's only goal.
Saudi Arabia also advanced through to the Round of 16 as well having also defeated Morocco 2–1. The Netherlands endured a somewhat nervier experience. The opening 2–1 victory against Saudi Arabia was followed by the 1–0 loss against Belgium before another 2–1 victory against Morocco, with Bryan Roy scoring the winner a mere 12 minutes from time, saw the Dutch win the group because of having scored more goals against Belgium and Saudi Arabia. Morocco, despite losing all 3 of their group games, did not leave without a fight, as each of their losses were by just a single goal, 1–0 to Belgium, 2–1 to Saudi Arabia, and 2–1 to the Netherlands.
Hristo Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko received the Golden Boot for scoring six goals. In total, 141 goals were scored by 81 different players, with only one of them credited as own goal.3 goals
Andrés Escobar (against the United States)
The All-star team is a squad consisting of the eleven most impressive players at the 1994 World Cup, as selected by FIFA's Technical Study Group.
After the tournament, FIFA published a ranking of all teams that competed in the 1994 World Cup finals based on progress in the competition, overall results and quality of the opposition.The United States–Switzerland game on 18 June at the Pontiac Silverdome was the first to be played indoors in World Cup history: grass was grown by Michigan State University and was the first time since 1965 (the failed attempt at the Astrodome) that natural turf was used in an indoor stadium in the United States. To date, only Sapporo Dome in 2002 and Veltins Arena in 2006 have subsequently hosted indoors game in World Cup history.
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 game, 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 game. That record lasted 20 years, as it was then surpassed by Faryd Mondragón (43 years, 3 days) of Colombia in their game against Japan at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
For the first time, during the entering of the players onto the field, the FIFA Anthem, composed by Franz Lambert, was played.
Gianluca Pagliuca of Italy became the first goalkeeper to be sent off in a World Cup game, dismissed for handling outside his area against Norway.
Brazil's 11 goals in their seven games was a record for the lowest average goals scored per game for any World Cup-winning side, but this record was broken by Spain's eight goals in 2010. The three goals Brazil conceded in those seven games was at the time also the lowest average goals conceded per game, although this was subsequently surpassed by France in 1998, Italy in 2006, and Spain in 2010.
The finals were the first time FIFA decided to experiment with the style of jerseys worn by officials, foregoing the traditional black. They could choose between burgundy, yellow or silver shirts depending on what was necessary to avoid a clash of colors 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 shirt numbers printed on the center front (or in on the right or left breast, in Morocco's and Russia's case respectively) of the shirt, as well as their names printed in the back of their jerseys in a World Cup, just as other American sports did, to make their identification easier for sportscasters. This custom followed from Euro 92, and has followed ever since (although the numbers printed on the center front were experimented during 1991 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Portugal).
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 cards accumulated in the group stage were wiped clean after its completion, and players started with a clean slate at the start of the knockout stage. Previously, players were suspended for one game if accumulating two yellow cards throughout the tournament. Now, players were suspended for one game after 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 games.
The 1994 World Cup revolutionized television coverage of sports in the United States 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 soccer, 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 6½ months before the 1994 World Cup began.
The 1994 World Cup final is the only goalless final in World Cup history. It was the first to be drawn after extra time and decided by a penalty shootout, the other being the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final. Italy took part in both games, and won the latter.
The sponsors of the 1994 FIFA World Cup are divided into two categories: FIFA World Cup Sponsors and USA Supporters.
The official game ball was the Adidas Questra.This was the last World Cup in which games other than the last two in each group were played simultaneously, although this only happened 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 have been played separately to maximize television audiences.
This was the last World Cup featuring 24 nations, and the last in which third-placed teams were still able to progress to the round of 16. From 1998 on, there were 32 nations, with only the top two in each group progressing.