Why Africa Boycotted the 1966 FIFA World Cup

Why Africa Boycotted the 1966 FIFA World Cup

The 1966 FIFA World Cup tournament was awarded to England by the world football governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). A total of 70 nations were expected to participate in the qualifying phase to battle for the remaining 14 slots as England and Brazil had qualified as host and winner of the previous tournament respectively.

Back in January 1964, FIFA had decided that the line-up for the 16-team finals would include 10 teams from Europe, including the host country, England, four footballing nations from Latin America, and a single one from the Central American and Caribbean Region.

Why Africa Boycotted the 1966 FIFA World Cup
An African would finish as the tournament’s top goalscorer with nine goals.

Thus, only one slot was now left to be fought for by three continents: Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Since the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, Africa has been present at every tournament. However, their best-ever performance has been at Italy in 1990, Korea/Japan in 2002, and South Africa in 2010, when Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana reached the quarterfinals respectively.

1966 FIFA World Cup Final

As for the 1966 FIFA World Cup, England beat West Germany 4–2 in the final to win the Jules Rimet Trophy, with a hat-trick of goals scored by England’s Geoff Hurst. Although England’s third goal was controversial, the final remains the only one, to date, to have witnessed a hat-trick.

Geoff Hurst 1966 FIFA World Cup
Geoff Hurst scores England’s controversial third goal against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley, July 30, 1966/History.

It is also England’s only FIFA World Cup title to date. The Three Lions were the third host nation (and the fifth nation) to win the trophy after Uruguay in 1930 and Italy in 1934.

Interestingly, the 1966 FIFA World Cup hosted by England remains the only tournament boycotted by an entire continent (Africa) even to this day. Ironically, an African would finish as the tournament’s top goalscorer with nine goals.

Therefore, you would ask, why would Africa boycott such an important event as the FIFA World Cup? Well, the answer is in the video below.

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