This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Battle of Berne" 1954 FIFA World Cup – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
1954 FIFA World Cup Quarter-final
Date27 June 1954
VenueWankdorf Stadium, Berne
RefereeArthur Ellis (England)

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 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 Lóránt 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 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]



Hungary 4–2 Brazil
Hidegkuti 4'
Kocsis 7', 88'
Lantos 60' (pen.)
Report Djalma Santos 18' (pen.)
Julinho 65'
Wankdorf Stadium, Bern
Attendance: 40,000
Referee: Arthur Ellis (England)

Assistant referees:
England William Ling
Switzerland Raymon Wyssling

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hungary vs Brazil: World CUP 1954 Quarter Final". Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  2. ^ "Football: Ellis a knockout during the Battle of Berne – Sport". The Independent. 9 June 1998. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  3. ^ "Gerd von der Lippe" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Brazil swap beauty for brutality in 'Battle of Berne' – Sport – Mail & Guardian Online". 3 May 2006. Retrieved 12 February 2011.

External links[edit]