Monday July 11th 1966
The eighth World Football Championship was opened by Her Majesty the Queen at the Empire Stadium, Wembley. The Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, welcomed the many thousands of visitors from overseas to England. Immediately preceding the Opening Ceremony, some 350 London Schoolboys dressed in the National colours of the competing Associations paraded around the arena and formed ranks in the centre of the playing area. (The Football Association ‘World Cup Diary’ FA News: The Official Journal of the Football Association Volume 16 1966-67 Number 1 August 1966 to Number 12 July 1967 London: The Football Association 1967 p.9)
Jean’s most recently completed chapter provides the first general historical overview of all of the World Cup posters for the adult male competition to date from 1930 to 2014. Formed in 1904, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world governing body of soccer, agreed to recognise the Olympic tournament as a world football championship for amateurs following the very well attended matches in Stockholm in 1912. The Olympic Games are a multi-sport, mixed gender tournament held in a single venue. A World Cup is a single sport, gender specific event held across cities, and, more recently by more than one nation. The visual lexicon of World Cups therefore diverge from Olympic history, with strong elements of civic self-identification for the host cities, as they simultaneously present themselves to an international audience, and to local or regional consumers. This combined design history and ritualistic display, blending sport, politics, industrial graphics, cultural geography and national representation. But there are also strong and relatively under explored links with fine art, and high culture.
The first FIFA World Cup was hosted by Uruguay in 1930, and was won by the host nation. This invented a tradition whereby home advantage seemed to be conferred by hosting the championship, but this was by no means a guarantee of success. There were seven South American and two North American representatives, while only four of the thirteen teams were European (Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia). Uruguay’s victory coincided with celebrations of the centenary of the first Uruguayan constitution and ten key games took place at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, built specifically for the purpose. Local artist Guillermo Laborde designed an oil painting of a goalkeeper rising to tip the ball over the crossbar and, in so doing, set a tradition of winning a public competition to have his design reproduced as a World Cup poster. The original painting became a national treasure and an original in the Uruguay Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales (national art museum) has been restored and conserved recently.
Jean’s chapter argues that the posters give an insight into the growth of intercontinental World Cup competitions, and a are neglected aspect of the academic literature. Firstly, the process of hosting a World Cup was partly reflected in the design of the poster, and specific temporal concerns often influenced both the style and topical motifs used in any specific edition. Secondly, the idea of a football world championship fed into wider concerns about a particular nation’s place in the global economic, political and social order. Consequently, the posters reflected the hosts self-image, to both domestic and international audiences. World Cup posters, like Olympic artworks, and their antecedents (including cheap paper bills circulated by hand), acted as both public service announcements and metaphors for spectacle.
However, the chapter primarily concerns the innovations created during the England World Cup of 1966. The tournament heralded an unprecedented level of commercial exploitation exemplified by the first World Cup mascot; a cartoon lion called World Cup Willie who wore a union jack waistcoat, and walked with a comical swagger. When England won as hosts in 1966, it was the third time that this had been achieved in World Cup history; first by Uruguay in 1930 and secondly by Italy in 1934. Unlike both Uruguay and Italy, this has been the only time that England has won the tournament.
World Cup Willie was symbolic of the new era of sport merchandising. We now take sporting mascots so much for granted that it is difficult to think of this as a relatively recent innovation in modern sport. As David Gill has shown, British military regiments and US sports teams had used live animals as adopted mascots since the nineteenth century, but with the innovation of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers of merchandising their cartoon character mascots, in the 1930s, a new marketing trend translated from the entertainment industries to sport. 1
The promoter of World Cup Willie was Walter Tuckwell and Associates Limited, was at the forefront of the new character merchandising industry with licensed products including James Bond, Noddy, Dr Who and other BBC series. Mascots spread across major tournaments and in professional clubs, becoming a standard means of merchandising and promoting related memorabilia. Licensing a cartoon character also unfixed World Cup Willie from the football tournament of 1966 itself and made him available to a range of consumers who may have had little or no interest in sport.
Because World Cup Willie was a visual representation, visitors who could not speak English were able to see his likeness on temporary signs used by London Transport to get visitors to Wembley and White City stadiums during the tournament, and provided a simple way of highlighting relevant information. 2
As interest in the event burgeoned in 1966, so did the professionalization of graphic design. Historians have largely neglected the confluence of these aspects of football’s history, and particularly the visual aesthetic of world sport. The big research question of the chapter is: How have the design features of graphic representation shaped the identity of the World Cup over time?
1 David Gill ‘Sports Mascots: An Analysis of the Factual and Legal History of Character Mascots’ Trademark World 218 pp. 36-9 www.ipworld.com accessed 2 June 2017.
2 H. K Nolan ‘Temporary direction signs for the 1966 football World Cup finals, photographed at Baker Street Underground station' 15 July 1966 Image no: 5276/R/ London Transport Museum http://www.ltmcollection.org/photos/ accessed 2 June 2017.