1990 FIFA World Cup

"Italia 90" and "Italy 1990" redirect here. For the video games, see World Cup Soccer: Italia '90 and Italy 1990 (video game).
1990 FIFA World Cup
Coppa del Mondo FIFA Italia '90

1990 FIFA World Cup official logo
Tournament details
Host country Italy
Dates 8 June – 8 July (31 days)
Teams 24 (from 5 confederations)
Venue(s) 12 (in 12 host cities)
Final positions
Champions  West Germany (3rd title)
Runners-up  Argentina
Third place  Italy
Fourth place  England
Tournament statistics
Matches played 52
Goals scored 115 (2.21 per match)
Attendance 2,516,215 (48,389 per match)
Top scorer(s) Italy Salvatore Schillaci (6 goals)
Best player Italy Salvatore Schillaci
Best young player Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Robert Prosinečki

The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the 14th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 8 June to 8 July 1990 in Italy, the second country to host the event twice (the first being Mexico in 1986). Teams representing 116 national football associations entered, and qualification began in April 1988. A total of 22 teams qualified from this process, along with host nation Italy and defending champion Argentina.

The tournament was won by West Germany, their third World Cup title. They beat Argentina 1–0 in the final, a rematch of the previous final four years earlier. Italy finished third, and England fourth, after both lost their semi-finals in penalty shootouts. This was the last tournament to feature a team from the divided Germany, with the country being reunified later in 1990. Costa Rica, Ireland and the UAE made their first appearances in the finals, and Egypt its first since 1934. The official match ball was the Adidas Etrusco Unico.

The 1990 World Cup is widely regarded as one of the poorest World Cups.[1][2][3][4] It generated an average 2.21 goals per game – a record low that still stands[5] – and a then-record 16 red cards, including the first ever dismissal in a final. This World Cup saw the introduction of the pre-match Fair Play Flag (then inscribed with "Fair Play Please") to encourage fair play. Negative tactics led to the introduction of the back-pass rule in 1992, and three points for a win instead of two at future World Cups.

Nonetheless, the 1990 World Cup stands as one of the most watched events in television history, garnering an estimated 26.69 billion non-unique viewers over the course of the tournament.[6] This was the first World Cup to be officially recorded and transmitted in HDTV by the Italian broadcaster RAI in association with Japan's NHK.[7] At the time it was the most watched World Cup in history in non-unique viewers, but was bettered by the 1994 and 2002 World Cups.[8]

Host selection

Main article: FIFA World Cup hosts

The vote to choose the hosts of the 1990 tournament was held on 19 May 1984 in Zürich, Switzerland. Here, the FIFA Executive Committee chose Italy ahead of the only rival bid, the USSR, by 11 votes to 5.[9] This awarding made Italy only the second nation to host two World Cup tournaments, after Mexico had also achieved this with their 1986 staging. Italy had previously had the event in 1934, where they had won their first championship.

Austria, England, France, Greece, West Germany and Yugoslavia also submitted initial applications for 31 July 1983 deadline.[10] A month later, only England, Greece, Italy and the Soviet Union remained in the hunt after the other contenders all withdrew.[11] All four bids were assessed by FIFA in late 1983, with the final decision over-running into 1984 due to the volume of paperwork involved.[12] In early 1984, England and Greece also withdrew, leading to a two-horse race in the final vote. The Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games, announced on the eve of the World Cup decision, was speculated to have been a major factor behind Italy winning the vote so decisively,[13] although this was denied by the FIFA President João Havelange.[9]


  Countries qualified for World Cup
  Country failed to qualify
  Countries that did not enter World Cup
  Country not a FIFA member

116 teams entered the 1990 World Cup, including Italy as host nation and Argentina as reigning World Cup champions, who were both granted automatic qualification. Thus, the remaining 22 finals places were divided among the continental confederations, with 114 initially entering the qualification competition. Due to rejected entries and withdrawals, 103 teams eventually participated in the qualifying stages.

Thirteen places were contested by UEFA teams (Europe), three by CONMEBOL teams (South America), two by CAF teams (Africa), two by AFC teams (Asia), and two by CONCACAF teams (North and Central America and Caribbean). The remaining place was decided by a play-off between a CONMEBOL team and a team from the OFC (Oceania).

Both Mexico and Chile were disqualified during the qualification process; the former for fielding an overage player in a prior youth tournament,[14] the latter after goalkeeper Roberto Rojas faked injury from a firework thrown from the stands, which caused the match to be abandoned. Chile were also banned from the 1994 qualifiers for this offence.

Three teams qualified for the first time: Costa Rica, the Republic of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

Returning after long absences were Egypt, who appeared for the first time since 1934; the United States, who competed for the first time since 1950; Colombia, who appeared for the first time since 1962; and Romania, who last appeared at the Finals in 1970.

Among the teams who failed to qualify were France, Denmark, Poland and Hungary. As of 2014, this was the last time that Egypt and United Arab Emirates qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals.


Twelve stadiums were selected to host the World Cup matches in twelve different cities. The Stadio San Nicola in Bari and Turin's Stadio delle Alpi were completely new venues opened for the World Cup.

The remaining ten venues all underwent extensive programmes of improvements in preparation for the tournament, forcing many of the club tenants of the stadia to move to temporary homes. Additional seating and roofs were added to most stadia, with further redevelopments seeing running tracks removed and new pitches laid. Due to structural constraints, several of the existing stadia had to be virtually rebuilt to implement the changes required.

Like Espana '82, the group stage of this tournament was organized in such a way where specific groups only played in two cities close in proximity to each other. Group A only played in Rome and Florence (Hosts Italy played all their competitive matches in Rome, except for their semi-final match), Group B played their matches in Naples and Bari (except for Argentina vs. Cameroon, which was the opening match of the tournament, played in Milan), Group C played their matches in Turin and Genoa, Group D played all their matches in Milan and Bologna, Group E played only in Udine and Verona, and Group F played on the island cities of Cagliari and Palermo. The cities that hosted the most World Cup matches were the 2 biggest cities in Italy: Rome and Milan, each hosting 6 matches, and Bari, Naples, and Turin each hosted 5 matches. Cagliari, Udine and Palermo were the only cities of the 12 selected that did not host any knockout round matches.

The England national team, at the British government's request, were forced to play all their matches in Cagliari. Hooliganism, rife in English football in the 1980s had followed the national team while they played friendlies on the European continent – the distrust of English fans was so high that the English FA's reputation and even diplomatic relations between the UK and Italy were seen to be at risk if England played any group stage matches on the Italian mainland. Thanks largely to British Sports Minister Peter Moniyhan's negative remarks about English fans weeks before the match, security around Cagliari during England's three matches there was extremely heavy – in addition to 7,000 local police and Carabineri, highly trained Italian military special forces were also there patrolling the premises.

Most of the construction cost in excess of their original estimates, and total costs ended up being over £550 million (approximately $935 million). Rome's Stadio Olimpico which would host the final was the most expensive project overall, while Udine's Stadio Friuli, the newest of the existing stadia (opened 14 years prior), cost the least to redevelop.

Rome Milan Naples Turin
Stadio Olimpico San Siro Stadio San Paolo Stadio delle Alpi
41°56′1.99″N 12°27′17.23″E / 41.9338861°N 12.4547861°E / 41.9338861; 12.4547861 (Stadio Olimpico) 45°28′40.89″N 9°7′27.14″E / 45.4780250°N 9.1242056°E / 45.4780250; 9.1242056 (San Siro) 40°49′40.68″N 14°11′34.83″E / 40.8279667°N 14.1930083°E / 40.8279667; 14.1930083 (Stadio San Paolo) 45°06′34.42″N 7°38′28.54″E / 45.1095611°N 7.6412611°E / 45.1095611; 7.6412611 (Stadio delle Alpi)
Capacity: 84,800[15][16] Capacity: 83,407[15][16] Capacity: 83,311[15][16] Capacity: 71,362[15][16]
Bari Verona
Stadio San Nicola Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi
41°5′5.05″N 16°50′24.26″E / 41.0847361°N 16.8400722°E / 41.0847361; 16.8400722 (Stadio San Nicola) 45°26′7.28″N 10°58′7.13″E / 45.4353556°N 10.9686472°E / 45.4353556; 10.9686472 (Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi)
Capacity: 58,270[15][16] Capacity: 43,216[15][16]
Florence Cagliari
Stadio Artemio Franchi Stadio Sant'Elia
43°46′50.96″N 11°16′56.13″E / 43.7808222°N 11.2822583°E / 43.7808222; 11.2822583 (Stadio Artemio Franchi) 39°11′57.82″N 9°8′5.83″E / 39.1993944°N 9.1349528°E / 39.1993944; 9.1349528 (Stadio Sant'Elia)
Capacity: 49,000[15][16] Capacity: 44,200[15][16]
Bologna Udine Palermo Genoa
Stadio Renato Dall'Ara Stadio Friuli Stadio La Favorita Stadio Luigi Ferraris
44°29′32.33″N 11°18′34.80″E / 44.4923139°N 11.3096667°E / 44.4923139; 11.3096667 (Stadio Renato Dall'Ara) 46°4′53.77″N 13°12′0.49″E / 46.0816028°N 13.2001361°E / 46.0816028; 13.2001361 (Stadio Friuli) 38°9′9.96″N 13°20′32.19″E / 38.1527667°N 13.3422750°E / 38.1527667; 13.3422750 (Stadio Renzo Barbera) 44°24′59.15″N 8°57′8.74″E / 44.4164306°N 8.9524278°E / 44.4164306; 8.9524278 (Stadio Luigi Ferraris)
Capacity: 41,200[15][16] Capacity: 42,311[15][16] Capacity: 40,632[15][16] Capacity: 44,800[15][16]


For more details on this topic, see 1990 FIFA World Cup squads.

Squads for the 1990 World Cup consisted of 22 players, as for the previous tournament in 1986. Replacement of injured players was permitted during the tournament at FIFA's discretion. Two goalkeepers – Argentina's Ángel Comizzo and England's Dave Beasant – entered their respective squads during the tournament to replace injured players (Nery Pumpido and David Seaman).

Match officials

41 match officials from 34 countries were assigned to the tournament to serve as referees and assistant referees. Officials in italics were only used as assistants during the tournament. Referees dressed only in traditional black jerseys for the final time at a World Cup (a red change shirt was used for two Group C games in which Scotland wore their navy blue shirts).



The six seeded teams for the 1990 tournament were announced on 7 December 1989.[17] The seeds were then allocated to the six groups in order of their seeding rank (1st seed to Group A, 2nd seed to Group B, etc.).

The seeds were decided by FIFA based on the nations' performance in, primarily, the 1986 World Cup with the 1982 World Cup also considered as a secondary influence. Six of the final eight in 1986 had qualified for the 1990 tournament. Italy – who were seeded first as hosts – had not reached the final eight in 1986, and this left FIFA needing to exclude one of the three (qualified) nations who were eliminated in the 1986 quarter-finals: Brazil, England or Spain.

Owing to their performance in 1982 but also to their overall World Cup record, Brazil were seeded third and not considered to drop out of the seedings. FIFA opted to seed England ahead of Spain. Spain had only been eliminated in 1986 on penalties, while England had been defeated in 90 minutes; both countries had also reached the second stage in the 1982 event, playing in the same group in the second group stage with England ending up ahead of Spain, but Spain had also appeared in the 1978 event, while England had failed to qualify. FIFA President João Havelange had reportedly earlier stated that Spain would be seeded.[18]

Spanish officials believed the seeding was contrived to ensure England would be placed in Group F, the group to be held off the Italian mainland, in a bid to contain England's hooliganism problems. Their coach Luis Suárez said, "We feel we've been cheated...they wanted to seed England and to send it to Cagliari at all costs. So they invented this formula".[17] FIFA countered that "the formula was based on the teams' respective showings during the previous two World Cups. England merited the sixth position. This is in no way a concession to English hooliganism".[17]

Seeds Pot 1[19] Pot 2[19] Pot 3[19]

 Italy (1st)
 Argentina (2nd)
 Brazil (3rd)
 West Germany (4th)
 Belgium (5th)
 England (6th)

 Costa Rica
 South Korea
 United Arab Emirates
 United States

 Republic of Ireland

 Soviet Union

Final draw

Ciao, a stick figure in the colours of the Italy Tricolore, was the mascot for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

On 9 December 1989 the draw was conducted at the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome, where the teams were drawn out from the three pots to be placed with the seeded teams in their predetermined groups. The only stipulation of the draw was that no group could feature two South American teams.[19] The ceremony was hosted by Italian television presenter Pippo Baudo, with Italian actress Sophia Loren and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti conducting the draw alongside FIFA general secretary Sepp Blatter.[20]

The draw show was FIFA's most ambitious yet with Pelé, Bobby Moore and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge appearing, as well as a performance of the Italian version of the tournament's official song "To Be Number One" by Giorgio Moroder, performed as "Un'estate italiana" by Edoardo Bennato and Gianna Nannini.[21]

The event also featured the official mascot of this World Cup, Ciao, a stick figure player with a football head and an Italian tricolor body that formed the word "ITALIA" when deconstructed and reconstructed.[22] Its name is an Italian greeting.

Tournament review

The finals tournament began in Italy on 8 June and concluded on 8 July. The format of the 1990 competition remained the same as in 1986: 24 qualified teams were divided into six groups of four. The top two teams and four best third-place finishers from the six groups advanced to the knockout stage, which eliminated the teams until a winner emerged. In total, 52 games were played.

Negative tactics

The tournament generated a record low goals-per-game average and a then-record of 16 red cards were handed out. In the knockout stage, many teams played defensively for 120 minutes, with the intention of trying their luck in the penalty shoot-out, rather than risk going forward. Two exceptions were the eventual champions West Germany and hosts Italy, the only teams to win three of their four knockout matches in normal time. There were four penalty shoot-outs, a record subsequently equalled in the 2006 and 2014 tournaments. Eight matches went to extra time, a record equalled in the 2014 tournament.

Ireland and Argentina were prime examples of this trend of cautious defensive play; the Irish scored just twice in five games in drawing all their matches until their defeat to Italy in the quarter-finals. Losing finalists Argentina, meanwhile, scored only five goals in the entire tournament (a record low for a finalist). Argentina also became the first (and so far only) team to advance twice on penalty shoot-outs and the first team to fail to score and have a player sent off in a World Cup final.

Largely as a result of this trend FIFA introduced the back-pass rule in time for the 1994 tournament to make it harder for teams to time-waste by repeatedly passing the ball back for their goalkeepers to pick up. Three, rather than two points would be awarded for victories at future tournaments to help further encourage attacking play.

Emergence of Cameroon

Cameroon reached the quarter-finals, where they were narrowly defeated by England. They opened the tournament with a shock victory over reigning champions Argentina, before topping the group ahead of both them and European Championship runners-up the Soviet Union. Their success was fired by the goals of Roger Milla, a 38-year-old forward who came out of international retirement to join the national squad at the last moment after a personal request from Cameroonian President Paul Biya. Milla's four goals and flamboyant goal celebrations made him one of the tournament's biggest stars as well as taking Cameroon to the last eight. Most of Cameroon's squad was made up of players who played in France's premier football league, Ligue 1- French is one of the officially spoken languages in Cameroon, it being a former French territory. In reaching this stage, they had gone further than any African nation had ever managed in a World Cup before; a feat only equalled twice since (by Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010). Their success was African football's biggest yet on the world stage, and FIFA subsequently decided to allocate the CAF qualifying zone an additional place for the next World Cup tournament.

All-champion final four

Despite the performances of nations such as Cameroon, Colombia, Ireland and Costa Rica, the semi-finalists consisted of Argentina, England, Italy and West Germany, all previous World Cup winners, with a total of eight previous titles between them. After the 1970 tournament, this is only the second time in the history of the World Cup this has occurred. The teams which finished first, second and third had also contested both the two previous World Cup Finals between themselves.


Group stage

All times are Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)


  Third place
  Fourth place

  Round of 16

  Group stage

In the following tables:

Key to colours in group tables
Group winners, runners-up, and best four third-placed teams advance to the Round of 16

The Group stage saw the twenty-four teams divided into six groups of four teams. Each group was a round-robin of six games, where each team played one match against each of the other teams in the same group. Teams were awarded two points for a win, one point for a draw and none for a defeat. The teams coming first and second in each group qualified for the Round of 16. The four best third-placed teams would also advance to the next stage.

If teams were level on points, they were ranked on the following criteria in order:

  1. Greatest total goal difference in the three group matches
  2. Greatest number of goals scored in the three group matches
  3. If teams remained level after those criteria, a mini-group would be formed from those teams, who would be ranked on:
    1. Most points earned in matches against other teams in the tie
    2. Greatest goal difference in matches against other teams in the tie
    3. Greatest number of goals scored in matches against other teams in the tie
  4. If teams remained level after all these criteria, FIFA would hold a drawing of lots

Group A

Hosts Italy won Group A with a 100 percent record. They beat Austria 1–0 thanks to substitute Salvatore 'Totò' Schillaci, who had played only one international before but would become a star during the tournament. A second 1–0 victory followed against a United States team already thumped 5–1 by Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovaks ended runners-up in the group, while the USA's first appearance in a World Cup Finals since 1950 ended with three consecutive defeats.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Italy 330040+46
 Czechoslovakia 320163+34
 Austria 310223−12
 United States 300328−60
9 June 1990
Italy 1–0 Austria Stadio Olimpico, Rome
10 June 1990
United States 1–5 Czechoslovakia Stadio Comunale, Florence
14 June 1990
Italy 1–0 United States Stadio Olimpico, Rome
15 June 1990
Austria 0–1 Czechoslovakia Stadio Comunale, Florence
19 June 1990
Italy 2–0 Czechoslovakia Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Austria 2–1 United States Stadio Comunale, Florence

Group B

Cameroon defeated reigning champions Argentina. Despite ending the match with only nine men, the African team held on for a shock 1–0 win, with contrasting fortunes for the brothers Biyik: François Omam scoring the winning goal, shortly after seeing Andre Kana sent off for a serious foul. In their second game the introduction of Roger Milla was the catalyst for a 2–1 win over Romania, Milla scoring twice from the bench (making him the oldest goalscorer in the tournament). With progression assured, Cameroon slumped to a 4–0 defeat in their final group game to a Soviet Union (in what would be their last World Cup due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union) side striving to stay in the tournament on goal difference after successive 2–0 defeats. A 1–1 draw between Romania and Argentina sent both through, the latter as one of the best third-placed teams.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Cameroon 320135−24
 Romania 311143+13
 Argentina 311132+13
 Soviet Union 31024402
8 June 1990
Argentina 0–1 Cameroon San Siro, Milan
9 June 1990
Soviet Union 0–2 Romania Stadio San Nicola, Bari
13 June 1990
Argentina 2–0 Soviet Union Stadio San Paolo, Naples
14 June 1990
Cameroon 2–1 Romania Stadio San Nicola, Bari
18 June 1990
Argentina 1–1 Romania Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Cameroon 0–4 Soviet Union Stadio San Nicola, Bari

Group C

Costa Rica beat Scotland 1–0 in their first match, lost 1–0 to Brazil in their second, then saw off Sweden 2–1 to claim a place in the second round. Brazil took maximum points from the group. They began with a 2–1 win over Sweden, then beat both Costa Rica and Scotland 1–0. Scotland's 2–1 win over Sweden was not enough to save them from an early return home as one of the two lowest-ranked third-placed teams.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Brazil 330041+36
 Costa Rica 320132+14
 Scotland 310223−12
 Sweden 300336−30
10 June 1990
Brazil 2–1 Sweden Stadio delle Alpi, Turin
11 June 1990
Costa Rica 1–0 Scotland Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
16 June 1990
Brazil 1–0 Costa Rica Stadio delle Alpi, Turin
Sweden 1–2 Scotland Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
20 June 1990
Brazil 1–0 Scotland Stadio delle Alpi, Turin
Sweden 1–2 Costa Rica Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa

Group D

Group D featured the most goals of all the groups, most due to two large wins of West Germany and defensive inadequacies of a United Arab Emirates team that lost 2–0 to Colombia, 5–1 to West Germany and 4–1 to Yugoslavia. The West Germans topped the group after a 4–1 opening victory over group runners-up Yugoslavia.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 West Germany 3210103+75
 Yugoslavia 320165+14
 Colombia 311132+13
 United Arab Emirates 3003211−90
9 June 1990
United Arab Emirates 0–2 Colombia Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
10 June 1990
West Germany 4–1 Yugoslavia San Siro, Milan
14 June 1990
Yugoslavia 1–0 Colombia Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
15 June 1990
West Germany 5–1 United Arab Emirates San Siro, Milan
19 June 1990
West Germany 1–1 Colombia San Siro, Milan
Yugoslavia 4–1 United Arab Emirates Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna

Group E

The winners of Group E were Spain, for whom Michel hit a hat-trick as they beat South Korea 3–1 in an unbeaten group campaign. Belgium won their first two games against South Korea and Uruguay to ensure their progress; Uruguay's advance to the second round came with an injury time winner against South Korea to edge them through as the weakest of the third-placed sides to remain in the tournament.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Spain 321052+35
 Belgium 320163+34
 Uruguay 311123−13
 South Korea 300316−50
12 June 1990
Belgium 2–0 South Korea Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
13 June 1990
Uruguay 0–0 Spain Stadio Friuli, Udine
17 June 1990
Belgium 3–1 Uruguay Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
South Korea 1–3 Spain Stadio Friuli, Udine
21 June 1990
Belgium 1–2 Spain Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
South Korea 0–1 Uruguay Stadio Friuli, Udine

Group F

Group F, featured the Netherlands, England, the Republic of Ireland and Egypt. In the six group games, no team managed to score more than once in a match. England beat Egypt 1–0, thanks to a 58th-minute goal from Mark Wright – and that was enough to win the group.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 England 312021+14
 Republic of Ireland 30302203
 Netherlands 30302203
 Egypt 302112−12

The Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands finished with identical records. With both teams assured of progressing, they were split by the drawing of lots to determine second and third place.

11 June 1990
England 1–1 Republic of Ireland Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
12 June 1990
Netherlands 1–1 Egypt Stadio La Favorita, Palermo
16 June 1990
England 0–0 Netherlands Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
17 June 1990
Republic of Ireland 0–0 Egypt Stadio La Favorita, Palermo
21 June 1990
England 1–0 Egypt Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
Republic of Ireland 1–1 Netherlands Stadio La Favorita, Palermo

Ranking of third-placed teams

Group Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
B Argentina 311132+13
D Colombia 311132+13
F Netherlands 30302203
E Uruguay 311123−13
A Austria 310223−12
C Scotland 310223−12

Knockout stage

The knockout stage involved the 16 teams that qualified from the group stage of the tournament. There were four rounds of matches, with each round eliminating half of the teams entering that round. The successive rounds were: round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final. There was also a play-off to decide third/fourth place. For each game in the knockout stage, any draw at 90 minutes was followed by 30 minutes of extra time; if scores were still level there would be a penalty shoot-out (at least five penalties each, and more if necessary) to determine who progressed to the next round. Scores after extra time are indicated by (aet), and penalty shoot outs are indicated by (p).

Round of 16 Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
24 June – Turin            
  Brazil  0
30 June – Florence
  Argentina  1  
  Argentina (p)  0 (3)
26 June – Verona
    Yugoslavia  0 (2)  
  Spain  1
3 July – Naples
  Yugoslavia (aet)  2  
  Argentina (p)  1 (4)
25 June – Genoa
    Italy  1 (3)  
  Republic of Ireland (p)  0 (5)
30 June – Rome
  Romania  0 (4)  
  Republic of Ireland  0
25 June – Rome
    Italy  1  
  Italy  2
8 July – Rome
  Uruguay  0  
  Argentina  0
23 June – Bari
    West Germany  1
  Czechoslovakia  4
1 July – Milan
  Costa Rica  1  
  Czechoslovakia  0
24 June – Milan
    West Germany  1  
  West Germany  2
4 July – Turin
  Netherlands  1  
  West Germany (p)  1 (4)
23 June – Naples
    England  1 (3)   Third Place
  Cameroon (aet)  2
1 July – Naples 7 July – Bari
  Colombia  1  
  Cameroon  2   Italy  2
26 June – Bologna
    England (aet)  3     England  1
  England (aet)  1
  Belgium  0  

All times listed are local (UTC+2)

Round of 16

Two of the ties – Argentina vs Brazil and Italy vs Uruguay – pitted former champion countries against each other, and West Germany met the Netherlands in a rematch of the 1974 World Cup Final.

The all-South American game was won for Argentina by a goal from Claudio Caniggia with 10 minutes remaining after a run through the Brazilian defence by Diego Maradona and an outstanding performance from their goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea. It would later come to light that Branco had been offered water spiked with tranquillisers by Maradona and Ricardo Giusti during half time, to slow him down in the second half. Initially discredited by the press, Branco would be publicly proven right years later, when Maradona confessed the episode in a TV show in Argentina.[23] As for Italy, a strong second half showing saw the hosts beat Uruguay 2–0, thanks to another goal from Schillaci and one from Aldo Serena.

The match between West Germany and the Netherlands was held in Milan, and both sides featured several notable players from the two Milanese clubs (Germans Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann for Internazionale, and Dutchmen Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard for Milan). After 22 minutes Rudi Völler and Rijkaard were both dismissed after a number of incidents (including Rijkaard spitting on Völler) between the two players left the Argentine referee with no option but to send them both off. As the players walked off the pitch together, Rijkaard spat on Völler a second time. Early in the second half, Jürgen Klinsmann put the West Germans ahead and Andreas Brehme added a second with eight minutes left. A Ronald Koeman penalty for the Netherlands in the 89th minute narrowed the score to 2–1 but the Germans saw the game out to gain some revenge for their exit to the Dutch in the previous European Championship.

Meanwhile, the heroics of Cameroon and Roger Milla continued in their game with Colombia. Milla was introduced as a second-half substitute with the game goalless, eventually breaking the deadlock midway in extra time. Three minutes later he netted a second after Colombian goalkeeper, René Higuita was dispossessed by Milla while well out of his goal, leaving the striker free to slot the ball into the empty net. Though the deficit was soon reduced to 2–1, Cameroon held on to become the first African team ever to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Costa Rica were comfortably beaten 4–1 by Czechoslovakia, for whom Tomáš Skuhravý scored the tournament's second and final hat-trick.

The Republic of Ireland's match with Romania remained goalless after extra time, and the Irish side won 5–4 on penalties. David O'Leary converted the penalty that clinched Ireland's place in the quarter-finals. Ireland thus became the first team since Sweden in 1938 to reach the last eight in a World Cup finals tournament without winning a match outright. Yugoslavia beat Spain 2–1 after extra time, with Dragan Stojković scoring both the Yugoslavs' goals. England were the final qualifier against Belgium, as midfielder David Platt's swivelling volley broke the stalemate with the game moments away from a penalty shoot-out.

23 June 1990
Cameroon  2–1 (a.e.t.)  Colombia
Milla  106', 109' Report Redín  115'
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Attendance: 50,026
Referee: Tullio Lanese (Italy)

23 June 1990
Czechoslovakia  4–1  Costa Rica
Skuhravý  12', 63', 82'
Kubík  75'
Report González  54'

24 June 1990
Brazil  0–1  Argentina
Report Caniggia  80'
Stadio delle Alpi, Turin
Attendance: 61,381
Referee: Joël Quiniou (France)

24 June 1990
West Germany  2–1  Netherlands
Klinsmann  51'
Brehme  82'
Report R. Koeman  89' (pen.)
San Siro, Milan
Attendance: 74,559
Referee: Juan Carlos Loustau (Argentina)

25 June 1990
Republic of Ireland  0–0 (a.e.t.)  Romania
5–4 Hagi

25 June 1990
Italy  2–0  Uruguay
Schillaci  65'
Serena  83'
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 73,303
Referee: George Courtney (England)

26 June 1990
Spain  1–2 (a.e.t.)  Yugoslavia
Salinas  83' Report Stojković  78', 92'

26 June 1990
England  1–0 (a.e.t.)  Belgium
Platt  119' Report


The first game of the last 8 saw Argentina and a Yugoslav side, reduced to 10 men after only half an hour, play out a goalless stalemate. The holders reached the semi-finals after winning the penalty shoot-out 3–2, despite Maradona having his penalty saved. A second Argentine miss (by Pedro Troglio) looked to have eliminated them until goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea – playing because first choice Nery Pumpido broke his leg during the group stage – rescued his side by stopping the Yugoslavs' final two spotkicks.

The Republic of Ireland's World Cup run was brought to an end by a single goal from Schillaci in the first half of their quarter-final with hosts Italy. West Germany beat Czechoslovakia with a 25th minute Lothar Matthäus penalty.

The quarter-final between England and Cameroon was the only quarter-final to produce more than one goal. Despite Cameroon's heroics earlier in the tournament, David Platt put England ahead in the 25th minute. At half-time, Milla was brought on. In the second half, the game was turned on its head during a five-minute stretch: first Cameroon were awarded a penalty from which Emmanuel Kunde scored the equaliser; then in the 65th minute Eugene Ekeke put Cameroon ahead. Cameroon came within eight minutes of reaching the semi-finals before then they conceded a penalty, which Gary Lineker converted. Midway through extra time, England were awarded another penalty, and Lineker again scored from the spot. England were through to the semi-finals for the first time in 24 years.

30 June 1990
Republic of Ireland  0–1  Italy
Report Schillaci  38'
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 73,303
Referee: Carlos Silva Valente (Portugal)

1 July 1990
Czechoslovakia  0–1  West Germany
Report Matthäus  25' (pen.)
San Siro, Milan
Attendance: 73,347
Referee: Helmut Kohl (Austria)

1 July 1990
Cameroon  2–3 (a.e.t.)  England
Kundé  61' (pen.)
Ekéké  65'
Report Platt  25'
Lineker  83' (pen.), 105' (pen.)
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Attendance: 55,205
Referee: Edgardo Codesal (Mexico)


The first semi-final featured the host nation, Italy, and the world champion, Argentina in Naples. 'Toto' Schillaci scored yet again to put Italy ahead in the 17th minute, but Claudio Caniggia equalised midway through the second half, breaking Walter Zenga's clean sheet streak throughout the tournament. There were no more goals in the 90 minutes or in extra time despite Maradona (who played for Naples in Serie A at the time) showing glimpses of magic, but there was a sending-off: Ricardo Giusti of Argentina was shown the red card in the 13th minute of extra time. Argentina went through on penalties, winning the shoot-out 4–3 after more heroics from Goycochea.

The semi-final between West Germany and England at Juventus's home stadium in Turin was goalless at half-time. Then, in the 60th minute, a shot from Andreas Brehme was deflected by Paul Parker into his own net. England equalised with ten minutes left; Gary Lineker was the scorer. The game ended 1–1. Extra time yielded more chances. Klinsmann was guilty of two glaring misses, and both sides struck a post. England had another Platt goal disallowed for offside. The match went to penalties, and West Germany went on to win the shout-out 4–3.[24]

4 July 1990
West Germany  1–1 (a.e.t.)  England
Brehme  60' Report Lineker  80'
4–3 Lineker
Stadio delle Alpi, Turin
Attendance: 62,628
Referee: José Roberto Wright (Brazil)

Third-place match

The game saw three goals in a 15-minute spell. Roberto Baggio opened the scoring after a rare mistake by England's goalkeeper Peter Shilton, in his final game before international retirement, presented a simple opportunity. A header by David Platt levelled the game 10 minutes later but Schillaci was fouled in the penalty area five minutes later, leading to a penalty. Schillaci himself got up to convert the kick to win him the tournament's Golden Boot for his six-goal tally. Nicola Berti had a goal ruled out minutes later, but the hosts claimed third place. England had the consolation prize of the Fair Play award, having received no red cards and the lowest average number of yellows per match.

7 July 1990
Italy  2–1  England
Baggio  71'
Schillaci  86' (pen.)
Report Platt  81'
Stadio San Nicola, Bari
Attendance: 51,426
Referee: Joël Quiniou (France)


The final between West Germany and Argentina has been cited as the most cynical and lowest-quality of all World Cup Finals.[1][2][25][26][27] In the 65th minute, Argentina's Pedro Monzon was sent off for a foul on Jürgen Klinsmann, the first player ever to be sent off in a World Cup Final.

Argentina, weakened by suspension and injury, offered little attacking threat throughout a contest dominated by the West Germans, who struggled to create many clear goalscoring opportunities. The only goal of the contest arrived in the 85th minute when Mexican referee Edgardo Codesal awarded a penalty to West Germany, after a foul on Rudi Völler by Roberto Sensini. Andreas Brehme, who later said there was no foul, converted the spot kick to settle the contest. In the closing moments, Argentina were reduced to nine after Gustavo Dezotti received a red card when he hauled Jürgen Kohler to the ground during a stoppage in play. The 1–0 scoreline provided another first: Argentina were the first team to fail to score in a World Cup Final.

With its third title (and three second-place finishes) West Germany – in its final tournament before national reunification – became the most successful World Cup nation at the time. West German manager Franz Beckenbauer became the only man to both captain (in 1974) and manage a World Cup winning team, and only the second man (after Mário Zagallo of Brazil) to win the World Cup as a player and as team manager. It was also the first time a team from UEFA won the final against a non-European team.

8 July 1990
West Germany  1–0  Argentina
Brehme  85' (pen.) Report
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 73,603
Referee: Edgardo Codesal (Mexico)


Salvatore Schillaci received the Golden Boot award for scoring six goals in the World Cup. This made him the second Italian footballer to have this honour, after Paolo Rossi won the award in 1982. In total, 115 goals were scored by 75 different players (none credited as own goals).

6 goals
2 goals
1 goal



Golden Boot winner Golden Ball winner Best Young Player FIFA Fair Play Trophy
Italy Salvatore Schillaci Italy Salvatore Schillaci Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Robert Prosinečki  England

All-star team

Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards

Final standings

After the tournament, FIFA published a ranking of all teams that competed in the 1990 World Cup finals based on progress in the competition, overall results and quality of the opposition.[29][30]

R Team G P W D L GF GA GD Pts.
1  West Germany D 7 5 2 0 15 5 +10 12
2  Argentina B 7 2 3 2 5 4 +1 7
3  Italy A 7 6 1 0 10 2 +8 13
4  England F 7 3 3 1 8 6 +2 9
Eliminated in the quarter-finals
5  Yugoslavia D 5 3 1 1 8 6 +2 7
6  Czechoslovakia A 5 3 0 2 10 5 +5 6
7  Cameroon B 5 3 0 2 7 9 -2 6
8  Republic of Ireland F 5 0 4 1 2 3 −1 4
Eliminated in the round of 16
9  Brazil C 4 3 0 1 4 2 +2 6
10  Spain E 4 2 1 1 6 4 +2 5
11  Belgium E 4 2 0 2 6 4 +2 4
12  Romania B 4 1 2 1 4 3 +1 4
13  Costa Rica C 4 2 0 2 4 6 −2 4
14  Colombia D 4 1 1 2 4 4 0 3
15  Netherlands F 4 0 3 1 3 4 −1 3
16  Uruguay E 4 1 1 2 2 5 −3 3
Eliminated in the group stage
17  Soviet Union B 3 1 0 2 4 4 0 2
18  Austria A 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1 2
 Scotland C 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1 2
20  Egypt F 3 0 2 1 1 2 −1 2
21  Sweden C 3 0 0 3 3 6 −3 0
22  South Korea E 3 0 0 3 1 6 −5 0
23  United States A 3 0 0 3 2 8 −6 0
24  United Arab Emirates D 3 0 0 3 2 11 −9 0


See also

References and footnotes

  1. 1 2 "Italy 1990". BBC Sport. 17 April 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  2. 1 2 "World Cup 1990". ESPN Soccernet. 9 November 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  3. Glanville, Brian (2005). The Story of the World Cup. Faber. ISBN 0-571-22944-1.
  4. Freddi, Cris (2006). Complete Book of the World Cup. HarperSport. ISBN 978-0-00-722916-1.
  5. "FIFA World Cup™ Record – Organisation". Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  6. "World Cup and Television" (PDF). FIFA. 2006. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  7. "L'Alta Definizione a Torino 1986 – 2006 di Marzio Barbero e Natasha Shpuza". Crit.rai.it. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  8. "The FIFA World Cup TV viewing figures" (PDF). FIFA. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2007.
  9. 1 2 "Italy gain vote over Soviet rival". The Times. London. 21 May 1984. p. 21.
  10. "Sports in brief". The Times. London. 3 August 1983. p. 17.
  11. "Sports in brief". The Times. London. 2 September 1983. p. 20.
  12. "World Cup formats". The Times. London. 12 November 1983. p. 18.
  13. "Romania could join the boycott". The Times. London. 22 May 1984. p. 30.
  14. "Mexico given ban in soccer". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1 July 1988. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "WM 1990 Sonderheft". Kicker (in German). May–June 1990. p. 185.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "World Cup '90: The Complete Collection". Orbis.
  17. 1 2 3 "England Is Seeded Sixth in 1990 World Cup in Italy". New York Times. 8 December 1989. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  18. "Cup seedings revealed". New York Times. 30 November 1989. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  19. 1 2 3 4 "The Times guide to the draw for the World Cup finals". The Times. London. 9 December 1989. p. 51.
  20. Gardner, Paul (10 December 1989). "U.S. must face Italy in cup". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  21. "The FIFA World Cup Final Draw history" (PDF). FIFA. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  22. "Mascots". FIFA. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  23. "Como Maradona "envenenou" Branco na Copa de 90". UOL. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  24. "England v West Germany at Italia '90 – as it happened". Guardian. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  25. Glanville, Brian (2005). The Story of the World Cup. Faber. p. 303. ISBN 0-571-22944-1.
  26. Vecsey, George (9 July 1990). "Winning Ugly, Losing Ugly, Just Plain Ugly". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  27. "A poor display bare of class". The Times. London. 9 July 1990.
  28. FIFA World Cup History, 1990, worldcupbrazil.net website
  29. "All-time FIFA World Cup Ranking 1930–2010" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  30. "FIFA World Cup: Milestones, facts & figures. Statistical Kit 7" (PDF). FIFA. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2013.
  31. Figure does not include shoot-outs; penalties were missed during games by: Michal Bílek (Czechoslovakia v USA), Rubén Sosa (Uruguay v Spain), Faruk Hadžibegić (Yugoslavia v Colombia), Gianluca Vialli (Italy v USA) and Enzo Scifo (Belgium v Spain)
  32. Figure does not include second yellow cards that led to a red card
  33. Argentina defeated Italy in the semi-finals by a penalty shoot-out which, by FIFA regulations counts as a draw for statistical reasons.

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