Bio
John Langenus
Born: 1881-12-08
Intl. since:
Hometown: Antwerp
Country: Belgium
Speaks: Dutch, French
Occupation: journalist
Hobbies:

John (aka Jan or Jean) Langenus was the referee of the final of the first World Cup in 1930. He took charge of six matches in 3 World Cup finals and many other international matches. He was a journalist and a writer and a secretary to a provincial governor. Langenus died in 1952.

interbellum

Perhaps the most important ref in his day, Langenus officiated around 85 international matches in times when football slowly turned professional and large stadiums were built. It was also a time of belligerency between countries like France and Italy, Germany and the rest etc, but their national teams still competed. Langenus took charge of those international matches between 1927 and 1939, often fair matches even when the two countries were nearing war.


Matches

Many matches Langenus took charge of were firsts of something. First match in the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, first continental ref in Scotland and in Ireland (cup final), first ever match England lost away (against Spain: 4-3) and of course the first World Cup final.

career

John Langenus was a player in his youth, but a not very good one. When he decided to become a referee, he taught himself the rules by reading a leaflet about it and went to the examinations. He was questioned by real English referees and Langenus passed only the second time. According to Langenus his first ever match as a referee was around 1906.

His first years were not good ones and more than once he doubted he was good enough and wanted to quit when he was hit in the stomach or when people threw bricks at him. He once forgot to keep time and noticed he had also forgotten to wind his watch.

During WWI he took charge of matches in (neutral) Holland and in the early 20's he started writing articles.
When he was designated to officiate in a match for the 1920 Olympic Games, he refused to go because the match was in Brussels and not in Antwerp, where the Games were being held. He argued that all matches should be played in the Olympic town, (his native) Antwerp. This stand cost him matches for a while.

book(s)

Langenus, when abroad to referee, always took the opportunity to see something of the countries he visited. For instance in his book Fluitend door de wereld (whistling though the world), written in 1942 when there was no more international football, nor travelling at leisure.

He writes about matches as well as what he sees on his travels. He describes countries, cities and events for the people who, in those days, hadn't seen places like Rome or Berlin (or Montevideo, Buenos Aires) and would never have been on a plane.

He writes about travelling for 20 hours on a train to get to a match, about sitting in a plane and seeing an engine drop off and plunge into the sea underneath and about meeting famous people like Mussolini (who gave him an autographed picture of himself), the kings of Sweden, Spain, Belgium, (then) Prince George and even the Pope.

Did you know
FIRST

  • Together with the Belgian team, Langenus travelled on the train to Paris, on another train to Barcelona and then on a ship, the "Conte Verde", to the World Cup finals in Montevideo via Rio de Janeiro.. On that ship the French and Romanian teams joined them. Fourteen days in which they laid on stretchers, practiced, and sang songs. The Romanians were the best singers and they even staged a ballet performance. Langenus saw the famous Russian opera singer Chaliapin on board.






  • The World Cup match Uruguay - Peru was the first match in the new Centenario stadium in Montevideo. Langenus estimated there were 20.000 more people than allowed and after the match the crowd was so large he couldn't find the car that was supposed to take him and his assistant back to the hotel. Since there were no dressing rooms in the stadium, the Belgians had to walk in their referee kit, on spikes, for at least half an hour before they found a bus.
  • During the match Argentina - Chile a fight broke out, every player fighting the other and the police had to enter the field to end it. Langenus writes he would normally have sent off most players and abandoned the match, but authorities asked him to play on. There was no more fighting and Argentina won.
  • Lengenus was sightseeing in Buenos Aires when he heard he was going to be the referee of the final. He went back to Montevideo on a boat full of Argentinian supporters.
    It was an exciting match, Argentina made 1-2 and Langenus's lines man, Christophe, thought he heard gun fire from the audience. Uruguay came back, scored 3-2 and Argentina hit the post. Finally the home team won 4-2 and everybody was ready to party, but Langenus and his Belgians had to run. Their ship, due to sail at 3 pm - the time of the start of the match, had been waiting for them. The Belgians got a police escort to the harbour only to find the ship wasn't there because of the mist. Langenus and the Belgian and Romanian players, who were also gathered there, went back to join the festivities in town. The next day their boat, full of disappointed Argentinians who had spent the night on the river in the mist, arrived.
    Another two weeks of holidaying on the ship followed, before they got back to Belgium.
    In Argentina meanwhile, a coup followed the loss and the president (Irigoyen) was kicked out of office.
  • In the 20s and 30s referees were invited by the Federations. The Italian Federation always asked him for their international matches because they'd never lost with him as a referee.
  • The last surviving player of the first Wolrd Cup finals in 1930, Argentinian Francisco Varallo, died age 100 in August 2010.
Statistics
Statistics for JOHN LANGENUS
Totals Home Away Total
Penalties 6 4 10
Fouls 0 0 0
Yellow 0 0 0
YellowRed 0 0 0
Red 0 1 1
Averages Home Away Total
Penalties 0.09 0.06 0.08
Fouls 0 0 0
Yellow 0 0 0
YellowRed 0 0 0
Red 0 0.02 0.01

Based on 66 international matches

Matches
MATCHES FOR JOHN LANGENUS
Date Score Yellow Red Penalties Fouls
friendly
YugolsaviaItaly1939-06-041 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
RomaniaEngland1939-05-240 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
ItalyFrance1938-12-041 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
PolandNorway1938-10-232 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
CzechoslovakiaIreland1938-05-212 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
GermanyEngland1938-05-143 - 6 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
GermanyHungary1938-03-201 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
EnglandCzechoslovakia1937-12-015 - 4 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FranceSwitzerland1937-10-102 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
RomaniaSweden1937-06-272 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
HungaryAustria1937-05-232 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
AustriaScotland1937-05-091 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
RomaniaHungary1936-10-041 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
AustriaEngland1936-05-062 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
IrelandSwitzerland1936-03-171 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SpainGermany1936-02-231 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
GermanyCzechoslovakia1935-05-262 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
GermanySpain1935-05-121 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
IrelandHungary1934-12-162 - 4 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (1-0)0 (0-0)
CzechoslovakiaEngland1934-05-162 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
EnglandFrance1933-12-064 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
ScotlandAustria1933-11-292 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
CzechoslovakiaAustria1933-09-173 - 3 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
AustriaCzechoslovakia1933-04-091 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
NetherlandsHungary1933-03-051 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FranceAustria1933-02-120 - 4 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
EnglandAustria1932-12-074 - 3 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
NetherlandsIreland1932-05-150 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
IrelandSpain1931-12-130 - 5 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
YugolsaviaCzechoslovakia1931-08-022 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SwedenGermany1931-06-170 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FranceEngland1931-05-145 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FranceCzechoslovakia1931-02-151 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)2 (1-1)0 (0-0)
CzechoslovakiaSpain1930-06-142 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (1-0)0 (0-0)
FranceCzechoslovakia1930-05-112 - 3 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (1-0)0 (0-0)
PortugalFrance1930-02-232 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SpainEngland1929-05-154 - 3 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
IrelandItaly1927-04-231 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
CzechoslovakiaAustria1926-09-281 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SwedenNorway1924-09-216 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FranceLuxembourg1923-02-253 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
WC 1938
1st roundSwitzerlandGermany1938-06-041 - 1 0 (0-0)1 (0-1)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Unknown
SwedenEngland1937-05-170 - 4 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SwitzerlandHungary1937-04-111 - 5 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SpainAustria1936-01-194 - 5 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
YugolsaviaItaly1931-06-001 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FranceCzechoslovakia1931-00-001 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)3 (1-2)0 (0-0)
CzechoslovakiaFrance1930-00-003 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SpainPortugal1929-00-005 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
ItalyAustria1928-11-112 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (0-1)0 (0-0)
HungaryCzechoslovakia0000-00-001 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
RomaniaSwitzerland0000-00-002 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
PolandCzechoslovakia0000-00-001 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
FeyenoordArsenal0000-00-001 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
SwedenDenmark0000-00-000 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
King Carol II Cup
RomaniaYugolsavia1936-05-103 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
WC 1934
1st roundCzechoslovakiaRomania1934-05-272 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
WC 1934 qualifiers - Europe
RomaniaYugolsavia1934-04-292 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (1-0)0 (0-0)
Mitropa Cup 1930
1/2 finalsAS AmbrosianaSparta Prague1930-09-282 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
WC 1930
finalUruguayArgentina1930-07-304 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
1/2 finalsArgentinaUSA1930-07-266 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
group stageArgentinaChile1930-07-223 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
group stageUruguayPeru1930-07-181 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Olympic Games 1928
bronze medalItaly OTEgypt OT1928-06-1011- 3 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
1st roundNetherlands OTUruguay OT1928-05-300 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Central European Cup
AustriaHungary1928-04-010 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)