3 Ways the 1970 World Cup changed football

The 1970 World Cup in Mexico is fondly remembered by football fans and historians. It was a watershed moment in many ways for the sport and truly ushered it into the modern era. There were some very unique ways in which the 1970 World Cup changed football. Here are three ways that football was altered.

Colour television

The 1970 World Cup was the first to be televised in colour. Just look back four years prior at the black and white images of the 1966 edition to see how different things were in Mexico. The colour images beamed down to homes around the world were remarkable and made the games look far more intriguing. Players looked younger, faster, and the kits shone under the Mexican sun. In addition, games were televised live rather than on delay.


The 1970 edition of the tournament was the first to use substitutes for tactical purposes. Prior to the tournament, teams were allowed to change players due to injury. In Mexico, FIFA finally allowed teams to make subs to replace fatigued players. It was a revolution that is now part of the tactics deployed by managers for every game.

Penalty cards

It may be difficult to believe, but prior to 1970, when a player was cautioned by a referee, they were simply told verbally. It left commentators, fans, and people watching at home confused. There was simply no way to let people watching know when a player had received a yellow or red card. The World Cup in 1970 was the first time yellow and red cards were used. One of the most important effects penalty cards had was letting players know when they had done something wrong. In international competitions with referees, coaches, and players speaking different languages, it was important for everyone to communicate. Cards allowed players, coaches, fans, and commentators to know the referee’s decision even if they didn’t speak the same language.

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