FIFA World Cup 1934
Like the Berlin Olympics that would follow two years later, the 1934 World Cup in Italy was a highly politicised event intended to showcase fascism abroad and secure support for the regime at home. A qualifying competition was organised to reduce the original 32 entrants to 16 but there were some notable absentees. The reigning champions, Uruguay, did not enter in retaliation for the refusal of European teams to travel to the inaugural tournament four years earlier while the UK associations continued their splendid isolation. Chile and Peru withdrew so Argentina and Brazil qualified without playing a match. Italy were required to qualify even though they were hosts and we can only imagine what would have happened had they lost their preliminary match against Greece.
Twelve places were reserved for European teams, three for the Americas and one for Africa/Asia. Mexico and the United States met in Rome three days before the start of the competition for a play-off to decide the last remaining place.
The tournament was organised as a straight forward knock-out competition: hard luck if you travelled half way round the world and were knocked out in your first match. Extra time would be played if the scores were level after 90 minutes and if the match was still drawn a replay held the following day.
I am grateful to Glen Isherwood for sharing his research. Please contact me with corrections or additions.