Qualification and Participants
32 countries applied to enter the tournament, so qualifying matches were required to thin the field to 16. Even so, there were several notable absentees. Reigning World Cup holders Uruguay declined to participate, in protest at the refusal of several European countries to travel to South America for the previous World Cup, which Uruguay had hosted in 1930. As a result, the 1934 World Cup is the only one in which the reigning champions did not participate. The Home Nations, in a period of self-imposed exile from FIFA, also refused to participate. Football Association committee member Charles Sutcliffe's view was typical of British attitudes: "the national associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have quite enough to do in their own International Championship which seems to me a far better World Championship than the one to be staged in Rome".
Despite their role as hosts, Italy were still required to qualify, the first and only time the host nation was not granted automatic qualification. The qualifying matches were arranged on a geographical basis. Withdrawals by Chile and Peru meant Argentina and Brazil qualified without playing a single match.
Twelve of the sixteen places were allocated to Europe, three to the Americas, and one to Africa or Asia (including Turkey). Only ten of the 32 entrants, and four of the 16 qualified teams (Brazil, Argentina, United States and Egypt, the first African team to qualify for a World Cup finals tournament), were from outside Europe. The last place in the finals was contested between the United States and Mexico only three days before the start of the tournament in a one-off match in Rome, which the United States won.
The majority of the 16 teams were making their first World Cup appearance. These included nine of the twelve European teams (Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland) together with Egypt. Egypt would not qualify for another World Cup finals until the next time the competition was held in Italy, in 1990.
Read more about this topic: 1934 FIFA World Cup
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“A civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence.”
—Sigmund Freud (18561939)