Scotland at the FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, sometimes called the Football World Cup or the Soccer World Cup, but usually referred to simply as the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.
The tournament consists of two parts, the qualification phase and the final phase (officially called the World Cup Finals). The qualification phase, which currently take place over the three years preceding the Finals, is used to determine which teams qualify for the Finals. The current format of the Finals involves 32 teams competing for the title, at venues within the host nation (or nations) over a period of about a month. The World Cup Finals is the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world, with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the 2006 tournament final.
The Scottish Football Association is the second oldest in the world, having been founded in 1873. Its foundation came the year after the first official international match was played between Scotland and England at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow. Scotland have played at eight FIFA World Cups, including five consecutive tournaments from 1974 to 1990. During the preparations for the 1928 Olympic Football Tournament, FIFA ruled that all its member associations must provide "broken-time" payments to cover the expenses of players from their country who participated. In response to what they considered to be unacceptable interference, the football associations of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales held a meeting at which they agreed to resign from FIFA. As a result, Scotland did not compete in the three interwar World Cup competitions. The Scottish Football Association did not rejoin FIFA as a permanent member until 1946.
Scotland have never advanced beyond the first round of the finals competition. They have missed out on progressing to the second round three times on goal difference: in 1974, when Brazil edged them out; in 1978, when the Netherlands progressed; and in 1982, when the USSR went through. Although Scotland have played at eight finals tournaments, they have qualified on nine occasions. The Scottish Football Association declined to participate in 1950 as Scotland were not the British champions.
Scotland, like the other Home Nations, did not enter the three FIFA World Cups held during the 1930s. This was because the four associations had been excluded from FIFA due to a disagreement regarding the status of amateur players. The four associations, including Scotland, returned to the FIFA fold after the Second World War. The readmission of the Scottish Football Association to FIFA meant that Scotland were now eligible to enter the 1950 FIFA World Cup. FIFA advised that places would be awarded to the top two teams in the 1949–50 British Home Championship, but the SFA announced that Scotland would only attend the finals if Scotland won the competition. Scotland won their first two matches, but a 1–0 home defeat by England meant that the Scots finished as runners-up. The SFA stood by this proclamation, despite pleas to the contrary by the Scotland players, supported by England captain Billy Wright and the other England players. Sportswriter Brian Glanville later described the SFA as showing "baffling insularity and pique" in their refusal to send a team to the World Cup.
The same qualification rules as in 1950 were in place for the 1954 FIFA World Cup, with the 1953–54 British Home Championship acting as a qualifying group. Scotland again finished second, but this time the SFA allowed a team to participate in the Finals, held in Switzerland. To quote the SFA website, "The preparation was atrocious". The SFA only sent 13 players to the finals, even though FIFA allowed 22 man squads at the tournament. Despite this self-imposed hardship in terms of players, the SFA dignitaries travelled in numbers, accompanied with their wives. Scotland lost 1–0 against Austria in their first game in the finals. After falling out with the SFA, probably due to the poor preparation of the team, manager Andy Beattie resigned hours before the game against Uruguay. Uruguay were reigning champions and had never before lost a game at the World Cup finals. The gulf in class was exposed in horrific fashion as Uruguay won 7–0.
Scotland qualified for the 1958 FIFA World Cup, finishing ahead of Spain. Matt Busby had been due to manage the team at the World Cup, but the severe injuries he suffered in the Munich air disaster meant that trainer Dawson Walker took charge of the team instead. In their first match at the finals Scotland achieved a creditable draw against Yugoslavia. Players Archie Robertson and Tommy Docherty were sent to watch next opponents Paraguay and they reported back that Paraguay was a "rough, fit and good" team. Walker chose to ignore this advice and left out some of his combative players, including Docherty, and Scotland lost 3–2. They exited the competition after also losing to France.
Scotland failed to qualify for another World Cup in the next 16 years. A "skilful but fragile" team lost a play-off to Czechoslovakia in qualification for 1962. A team managed by Jock Stein, but deprived of many of its best players due to club commitments, lost a decisive qualifier against Italy in Naples for the 1966 tournament. A narrow defeat by West Germany in Hamburg then ended hopes of qualifying for 1970.
Willie Ormond was appointed Scotland manager in 1973. Ormond lost his first match in charge 5–0 to England, but recovered to steer Scotland to their first World Cup finals in 16 years in 1974. At the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany, Scotland achieved their most impressive performance at a World Cup tournament. The team was unbeaten but failed to progress beyond the group stages on goal difference. After beating Zaire, they drew with both Brazil and Yugoslavia, and went out because they had beaten Zaire by the smallest margin. This performance has been assessed as a "gallant failure", but the choice to retain possession instead of pressing for more goals against Zaire has been criticised.
Scotland appointed Ally MacLeod as manager in 1977. Scotland qualified for the 1978 FIFA World Cup with victories over Czechoslovakia and Wales. During the build-up to the tournament, MacLeod fuelled the hopes of the nation by stating that Scotland would come home from Argentina with a medal. As the squad left for the finals, they were given an enthusiastic send off as they were paraded around a packed Hampden Park. Thousands more fans lined the route to Prestwick Airport as the team set off for South America. This enthusiasm was not just generated internally, as respected coaches such as Rinus Michels and Miljan Miljanić rated Scotland amongst the favourites to win the competition.
Scotland's first game was against Peru in Córdoba. Two spectacular goals by Teófilo Cubillas meant that the result was a 3–1 loss. The second game was a very disappointing 1–1 draw against Iran. The disconsolate mood of the nation was reflected by footage of Ally MacLeod in the dugout with his head in his hands. MacLeod had made strange selection choices, picking inexperienced full-backs and retaining the out of form Bruce Rioch and Don Masson.
After taking a single point from their opening two games, Scotland had to defeat the Netherlands by three clear goals to progress. Despite the Dutch taking the lead, Scotland fought back to win 3–2 with a goal from Kenny Dalglish and two from Archie Gemmill, the second of which is considered one of the greatest World Cup goals ever; Gemmill beat three Dutch defenders before lifting the ball over goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed into the net. The victory was not sufficient to secure a place in the second round, however, as Scotland were eliminated on goal difference for the second successive World Cup. This performance against strong opponents only heightened the frustration at the poor results earlier in the competition. MacLeod initially retained his position, but resigned later that year.
Jock Stein, who had won nine consecutive Scottish league titles and the European Cup as manager of Celtic, was appointed Scotland manager in 1978. After failing to qualify for the 1980 European Championship, Scotland qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup from a tough group including Sweden, Portugal, Israel and Northern Ireland, losing just one match in the process. They were then drawn in a "Group of Death" with New Zealand, Brazil and the Soviet Union. Scotland beat New Zealand by 5–2 in their first game, but then lost 4–1 to a Brazil team containing Socrates, Zico, Eder and Falcão. Scotland were again eliminated on goal difference, after a 2–2 draw with the Soviet Union. This match is best remembered for defenders Alan Hansen and Willie Miller colliding while chasing a long ball, which allowed the Soviets to run through and score.
Scotland qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup, their fourth in succession, in traumatic circumstances. The squad went into their last qualification match against Wales needing a point to progress to a qualifying playoff against Australia. With only nine minutes remaining and Wales leading 1–0, Scotland were awarded a penalty kick, which was calmly scored by Davie Cooper. The 1–1 draw meant that Scotland progressed, but as the players and fans celebrated, national coach Jock Stein suffered a heart attack and died shortly afterwards. His assistant Alex Ferguson took over. Scotland qualified by winning 2–0 against Australia in a two-leg playoff, but were again drawn into a group of death, this time with Uruguay, Denmark and West Germany. Scotland were eliminated from the tournament with just one point from their three matches, a goalless draw with Uruguay.
Scotland qualified for their fifth consecutive World Cup in 1990 by finishing second in their qualifying group, ahead of France. Scotland were drawn in a group with Costa Rica, Sweden, and Brazil, but the Scots lost 1–0 to Costa Rica. While they recovered to beat Sweden 2–1 in their second game, they lost to Brazil in their third match 1–0 and were once again eliminated after the first round. Goalkeeper Jim Leighton fumbled a shot that allowed Brazil to score the only goal.
Craig Brown guided Scotland to qualification for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, finishing as the best runners-up. Scotland were drawn against holders Brazil in the opening game of the World Cup. John Collins scored from the penalty spot to level the score at 1–1, but a Tom Boyd own goal led to a 2–1 defeat. Scotland drew their next game 1–1 with Norway in Bordeaux, but the final match against Morocco ended in an embarrassing 3–0 defeat. Scotland have since failed to qualify for the World Cup.
|1930||Did not enter|
|1962||Did not qualify|
|1994||Did not qualify|
|2002||Did not qualify|
List of matches
|World Cup||Round||Opponent||Score||Result||Venue||Scotland scorers|
|1974||Group stage||Zaire||2–0||W||Dortmund||Lorimer, Jordan|
|Netherlands||3–2||W||Mendoza||Dalglish, Gemmill (2)|
|1982||Group stage||New Zealand||5–2||W||Málaga||Dalglish, Wark (2), Robertson, Archibald|
|Soviet Union||2–2||D||Málaga||Jordan, Souness|
|1990||Group stage||Costa Rica||0–1||L||Genoa||&
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