I have often used the question in footy quizzes that I have given over the years. "What is the smallest town ever to host a FIFA World Cup finals match?" WELL TODAY I went on the train from Nice-Ville to that town, ANTIBES, about 20 minutes west along the Cote D'Azure, which is now a bustling town and port with thousands of yachts big and bigger,
Dominating the town is Fort Carre and below it next to the water the stadium I have long wanted to visit. STADE DU FORT CARRE, Antibes. On one side are huge stone stands while a new athletics track surrounds the football pitch and at onr end is a 3 G artificial pitch with 4 teens playing around with a soft ball. At the other end is a club house for FC Antibes a recently formed club and alongside the pitch are some brand new changing rooms.
The historical date was June 12th 1938 the year that France hosted the third World Cup after Uruguay 1930 and Italy 1934. Argentina and Uruguay refused to come since they did not agree with Europe hosting twice in a row. Austria qualified but had been taken over by Germany in The Anchluss and withdrew. Two stadiums in Paris were chosen The Stade Olymique (Colombes) and Parc des Princes, Lille was chosen but due to Austria withdrawing it was left without a match. Stadiums in Bordeaux, Le Havre, Reims, Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseilles and Antibes hosted matches.
In fact Antibes only played host to SWEDEN v CUBA in a quarter final with a capacity crowd of 7,000 in attendance. Cuba was one of only 3 non European teams on show, with Brazil and Dutch East Indies. In their first round match in Toulouse they tied Romania 3-3 and so had to replay at the same venue and won 2-1. Their quarter final was a mismatch. Sweden won 8-0 (HT 4-0) with hat tricks for Gustav Wetterstrom and Harry Andersson. The referee was Augustin Krist of Czechoslovakia. The losing goalkeeper was B. Carvajalez, SO, THAT WAS THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD CUP IN ANTIBES.
Sweden had a bye due to Austria's withdrawal and beat Germany in the next round 4-2, with the French fans pelting the Germans with glass bottles(no plastic ones in those days). Italy the holders beat Norway 2-1 after extra time. BENITO MUSSOLINI who had dominated the 1934 competition with his presence, sent a telegram to the Italian delegation: VINCERE O MORIRE ! WIN OR DIE. Italy beat Brazil in one semi-final 2-1 in Bordeaux, while Hungary demolished the Swedes 5-1 at The Stade Velodrome in Marseilles. Vittorio Pozzo's Italy beat Hungary 4-2 in the final at Stade Colombes with Brazil taking third place in Bordeaux over Sweden.
Italy kept the cup for 16 years from 1934 until the next edition in Brazil in 1950 due to the Second World War. The Italian VP of FIFA, Dr. Ottorino Barassi hid the trophy under his bed for the duration of the war.