Battle of Berne (1954 FIFA World Cup)

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1954 FIFA World Cup
Date 27 June 1954
Venue Wankdorf Stadium, Berne
Referee Arthur Ellis (England)
Attendance 40,000

The Battle of Berne is used to refer to a football match at the 1954 World Cup between Hungary and Brazil, a quarter-final played on 27 June 1954 at the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne, Switzerland.

Violent conduct and fighting prompted English referee Arthur Ellis to send off three players during the match. Fighting between the teams continued in the dressing rooms after the final whistle.


Brazil had scored six goals in two group games, and Hungary had scored 17. Brazil had a reputation for attractive and attacking football; in their group games, they beat Mexico 5–0, and drew the other 1–1 with Yugoslavia after extra time. Yugoslavia had beaten France 1–0 in their other group game, which meant that both Brazil and Yugoslavia were equal on points in their group. Goal difference was not used to decide who finished top of the group; instead, lots were drawn, with Brazil being elected group winners. Hungary had revolutionized football tactics and coaching in Europe. Their fluid and open style of play – an early form of total football – meant that they were unbeaten for the previous 4 years. Hungary were clear winners of their group, winning both of their group games – they beat South Korea 9–0, and West Germany 8–3.

The match

The match was played in driving rain, producing slippery conditions and a hard to control ball. Hungary took the lead in the third minute, with Nándor Hidegkuti scoring. Four minutes later, Sándor Kocsis made it 2–0 to Hungary. Brazil was awarded a penalty; Djalma Santos scored to make it 2–1 at half time.

In the second half, Hungary was awarded a penalty; Mihály Lantos scored to make the score 3–1. The penalty award was the cue for a pitch invasion by Brazilian journalists and officials, who had to be ushered off by police. The game then degenerated into a series of increasingly violent fouls and cynical tactics, with Brazilian forward Julinho somehow scoring to bring the score to 3–2. After this, József Bozsik was fouled by Nilton Santos; the two men started fighting, and both were sent off. Hungary scored a fourth goal via Sándor Kocsis to make the score 4–2 to Hungary. The last moments of the game was little more than a running battle between the two teams; Brazilian forward Humberto Tozzi kicked Hungary's Gyula Lorant prior to the final whistle and was sent off.

In total, 42 free kicks and 2 penalties were awarded, with 4 cautions and 3 dismissals issued.[1]

The ill-temper continued after the game, with the Brazilian players invading the Hungarian dressing room and continuing the on-pitch fighting. Despite evidence from independent witnesses of violent conduct from both sides, football's governing body FIFA did nothing, leaving discipline to the respective countries.[citation needed]

Post-match commentary

The game's English referee Arthur Ellis commented: "I thought it was going to be the greatest game I'd ever see. I was on top of the world. Whether politics and religion had something to do with it I don't know, but they behaved like animals. It was a disgrace. It was a horrible match. In today's climate so many players would have been sent off the game would have been abandoned. My only thought was that I was determined to finish it."[2]

The Times newspaper correspondent on 28 June 1954 drew a similar conclusion; "Never in my life have I seen such cruel tackling, the cutting down of opponents as if with a scythe, followed by threatening attitudes and sly jabs when officialdom was engaged elsewhere."[3]

"This was a battle; a brutal, savage match," recalled Hungary manager Gustav Sebes, who needed four stitches for a facial wound received during the fighting. "At the end we had won 4–2 but it wasn't over yet. Brazilian photographers and fans flooded on to the pitch and police were called to clear it. Players clashed in the tunnel and a small war broke out in the corridor to the dressing rooms - everyone was having a go; fans, players and officials."[4]

The Battle of Berne's status in International Football's highest rated matches

The "Battle of Berne" in theoretical abstract terms, was one of the highest ranked contests of the 20th century according to the Elo rating system in men's senior international competition.

Rank Combined
Nation 1 Elo 1 Nation 2 Elo 2 Score Date Occasion Location
1 4211  Netherlands 2100  Spain 2111 0 : 1 2010-07-11 World Cup F South Africa Johannesburg
2 4161  West Germany 1995  Hungary 2166 3 : 2 1954-07-04 World Cup F Switzerland Bern
3 4157  Netherlands 2050  Brazil 2107 2 : 1 2010-07-02 World Cup QF South Africa Port Elizabeth
4 4148  West Germany 2068  Brazil 2080 0 : 1 1973-06-16 Friendly West Germany Berlin
5 4129  Spain 2085  Germany 2044 1 : 0 2010-07-07 World Cup SF South Africa Durban
6 4119  Brazil 2050  West Germany 2069 1 : 0 1982-03-21 Friendly Brazil Rio de Janeiro
7 4118  Hungary 2108  Brazil 2010 4 : 2 1954-06-27 World Cup QF Switzerland Bern
8 4116  Hungary 2141  Uruguay 1975 4 : 2 1954-06-30 World Cup SF Switzerland Lausanne
9 4113  West Germany 2079  Netherlands 2034 2 : 1 1974-07-07 World Cup F West Germany Munich
10 4108  Brazil 2015  West Germany 2093 1 : 1 1977-06-12 Friendly Brazil Rio de Janeiro

Match details

27 June 1954
17:00 CET
Hungary  4–2  Brazil
Hidegkuti Goal 4'
Kocsis Goal 7'88'
Lantos Goal 60' (pen.)
Report Santos Goal 18' (pen.)
Julinho Goal 65'
Wankdorf Stadium, Berne
Attendance: 60,000
Referee: Arthur Ellis (England)
GK 1 Gyula Grosics
DF 2 Jenő Buzánszky
MF 3 Gyula Lóránt
DF 4 Mihály Lantos
DF 5 József Bozsik Red card 71'
MF 6 József Zakariás
FW 7 József Tóth
FW 8 Sándor Kocsis
FW 9 Nándor Hidegkuti
FW 11 Zoltán Czibor
FW 20 Mihály Tóth
Hungary Gusztáv Sebes
GK 1 Castilho
DF 2 Djalma Santos
DF 3 Nílton Santos Red card 71'
DF 4 Brandãozinho
MF 5 Pinheiro
MF 6 Bauer
FW 7 Julinho
FW 8 Didi
FW 9 Baltazar
FW 17 Maurinho
FW 18 Humberto Red card 79'
Brazil Zezé Moreira

Assistant referees:
England William Ling
Switzerland Raymon Wyssling

See also


  1. "Hungary vs Brazil: World CUP 1954 Quarter Final". Retrieved 2012-10-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Football: Ellis a knockout during the Battle of Berne – Sport". The Independent. 1998-06-09. Retrieved 2011-02-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Gerd von der Lippe" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-02-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Brazil swap beauty for brutality in 'Battle of Berne' – Sport – Mail & Guardian Online". 2006-05-03. Retrieved 2011-02-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Terry Crouch: The World Cup, The Complete History (2002)

External links