Which team are you cheering for this year in the World Cup? The FIFA World Cup is one of the most watched sports events in the world; millions anticipate, watch, and cheer on their favorite teams during the month long tournament. Here at the Ohio History Connection, we are excited to see one of our neighbors, Waylon Francis of the Columbus Crew, play for Costa Rica in this year’s cup. To get into the cup spirit, we are highlighting a few soccer objects in our collection.
The “länderspiel” was a soccer match held between Italy and Germany in 1938 in Nuremberg, Germany, to prepare for the 1938 World Cup. Due to World War II and the long recovery afterwards, the 1938 World Cup was the last one played until 1950. It featured the smallest ever number of teams from outside the host continent to compete at a FIFA World Cup due to anger over France hosting the cup and Nazi Germany competing in it. Austria had originally qualified for the cup, but due to the annexation of the country by Germany, its players were absorbed by the German team, which lost early on. The ribbon was obtained by an Ohioan, a first lieutenant in the 42nd Infantry Division in Germany, during World War II who thought it would make an interesting souvenir to bring home.
This is a soccer ball made from synthetic leather, cotton, and butyl rubber consisting of an outer covering made of eighteen separate pieces in white, green and blue stitched together. Printed on the side of the ball is “Mitre / MLS / MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER / OFFICIAL / REPLICA BALL ULTIMA” and it is signed by former members of the Columbus Crew (catalog number H 93519). It was presented to Governor Bob Taft in 1999.
In 1994, the Major League Soccer announced Columbus, Ohio would be one of the founding members of the new North American professional soccer league. The Crew played their first game on April 13, 1996 at Ohio Stadium. They continued to play at Ohio Stadium until 1999. According to the Columbus Crew, “On May 15, 1999, the Crew forever etched its place in American sports history by christening Columbus Crew Stadium, the country’s first major-league stadium built specifically for soccer. A standing-room only crowd of 24,741 looked on as the Crew defeated New England, 2-0, in what was hailed by then-Major League Soccer Commissioner Doug Logan as a “re-launching of the League.” The Crew is one of the most successful franchises in the Major League Soccer, winning the League’s cup in 2008.
Are you planning on watching any of the matches in the World Cup this year?
Emily Lang, History Curator
Dauncey, Hugh, and Geoff Hare. France and the 1998 World Cup: The National Impact of a World Sporting Event. London: F. Cass, 1999.
Heinrich, Arthur. “The 1954 Soccer World Cup and the Federal Republic Of Germany’s Self-Discovery.” American Behavioral Scientist 46, no. 11 (2003): 1491-1505.
“History.” Columbus Crew. http://www.thecrew.com/media/history (accessed June 14, 2014).