FIFA's decision to hold the first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay did not meet universal acclaim, as Europe was plunged in the midst of an economic crisis. Participation in a FIFA World Cup taking place overseas involved a long sea journey. Moreover, for some clubs it meant having to go without their best players for two months - a problem that is still topical today.
The organisation of the first FIFA World Cup looked rather different from today's with no qualifying competition, the 13 teams entered by invitation and the final draw was not made until the teams arrived in Uruguay.
France met Mexico in the opening match and duly won 4-1, but the first final was contested by the hosts and their neighbours Argentina. After trailing 2-1 at the interval, Uruguay went on to prevail 4-2 and thus won the cup which had been designed by French sculptor Abel Lafleur.
The first FIFA World Cup, the first football legends
Although football was officially born in 1904 with the founding of FIFA, it was not until 1924 and the Olympic tournament in Paris that the international game really came into its own. There for the first time, teams from other continents arrived to take on the Europeans. The tournament was an unmitigated success: 50,000 spectators watched Uruguay beat Switzerland in the final. In 1928 however, when many nations abstained from the Olympic tournament in Amsterdam, the time was obviously ripe for a new independent football tournament to be established especially in view of the growth of professional football.
On 26 May 1928 in Amsterdam, the FIFA congress voted that a new tournament was to be organised in 1930 which was to be open to all member nations. On 18 May 1929, the Barcelona congress voted that Uruguay should be the first nation to host a FIFA World Cup.
As holders of the Olympic title and the fact that 1930 marked its 100 years of independence it was appropriate to choose Uruguay to host the first tournament. Although the news was greeted enthusiastically in all football-playing countries, many European nations harboured reservations about the prospect of crossing the Atlantic, a journey which promised to be long, tiring and costly. Thus, more and more European associations broke their promise to participate.
Two months before the tournament was due to commence not a single European country had entered the competition. Thanks to Rimet's personal efforts, at least four delegations, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia and Romania, set sail on 21 June 1930 from Villefranche-Sur-Mer with the liner "Conte Verde" reaching Rio de Janeiro on 29 June, where they picked up the Brazilian squad and arrived in Montevideo on 4 July.
A tremendous sporting success
The first FIFA World Cup only attracted 13 nations, including four Europeans, eight from South America and a representative team from the United States. On the field of play however, the quality of football produced was of the highest standard. And whilst the public had expected to see a South American domination, the four teams from Europe did more than hold their own as typified by the French team, beating Mexico 4 - 1 and going down narrowly to Argentina 1 - 0 in an epic struggle. The referee, who had blown the final whistle six minutes early, finally - after fierce protests - recalled the players to the field, some of whom were already in the shower!
First final, first legend
A few days later in the colossal Centenario stadium (100,000 capacity), the atmosphere was electric as spectators were awaiting the South American final between Uruguay and Argentina. At half-time, Uruguay were down 2-1, but fought back bravely and put three second half goals passed the stunned Argentinans, ending the game with a 4-2 victory. The FIFA President Jules Rimet presented the " Victoire aux Ailes d'Or " trophy, a statuette 30cm high, made of gold and weighing 4 kg, to the Uruguayan captain José Nazassi. Celebrations in Montevideo went on for several days and nights and the day after the famous victory, the 31 July, was proclaimed a national holiday. The ball had begun to roll for football's most prestigious prize and the universal nature of the game had been officially proclaimed!
Official FIFA World Cup Awards
adidas Golden Shoe winner Guillermo STABILE (Argentina) 8
World Cup 1930 - Details
Held in July, shortly after the Wall Street Crash, the first finals in 1930 took place entirely in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
Because of travel difficulties, just 13 nations accepted an invitation to take part. Only four nations from Europe —— France, Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia —— said yes, and all except the Yugoslavs boarded the Italian liner Conte Verde at Villefranche-sur-Mer in France for the long voyage across the Atlantic.
The teams trained on the boat during the two-week trip before joining Yugoslavia and the nine other South American teams in Monteviedo.
The 13 competitors were split into four groups with the winners contesting the semi-finals.
Yugoslavia did the best of the Europeans nations by reaching the last four when they were soundly beaten 6-1 by Uruguay. In the other semi-final Argentina overhwhelmed the United States by an identical scoreline.
Uruguay, backed by a partisan crowd of 90,000 in the Centenario Stadium, beat the Argentines 4-2 in the final after being 2-1 down at half-time.
A public holiday was declared in Uruguay, but in Buenos Aires hostile fans attacked the Uruguayan embassy.
1930 WORLD CUP LEGENDS
Uruguay: b. 1900, d. 1970
Played in Uruguayan teams that won the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games tournaments and the first World Cup in 1930.
Became known as the 'Olympic equaliser' by scoring equalising goals every time Uruguay were behind in these three tournaments. Scored a hat-trick in the 1930 World Cup semi-final 6-1 win over Yugoslavia and the second, equalising goal against Argentina in the final.
One of the few great inside-lefts who was not left-footed.
Argentina: b. 1906, d. 1966
Fast, scoring centre-forward whose eight goals in the 1930 World Cup were not bettered for 24 years.
Could have been an Olympic sprinter but chose soccer. Started as a winger as a 14-year-old for Huracan's fourth team. Five years later he scored 35 goals for the first team and in 1928 he helped Huracan to their only Argentine title.
After scoring eight of Argentina's 18 goals in four matches in 1930 he was bought by Genoa who were then bottom of the Italian league and scored a hat-trick on his debut against league leaders Bologna.
Twice broke his right leg and after a short spell with Napoli he joined Red Star where he finished his playing career in 1938.
1930 WORLD CUP SCORERS
Guillermo Stabile (ARG) 8
Pedro Cea (URU) 5
Guillermo Subiabre (CHI) 4
Peregrino Anselmo (URU) 3
Carlos Peucelle (ARG) 3
Bert Patenaude (USA) 3
Peregrino (BRA) 3
Ivan Beck (YUG) 3
1930 WORLD CUP TRIVIA
- Six countries applied to stage the first tournament —— Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and eventual hosts Uruguay. Uruguay won the decision to host the first finals not least because they offered to pay the expenses of the competing countries.
- Teams from Great Britain could not be considered because they were not members of FIFA. They did not enter the competition until 1950.
- The earlier matches were played on local club grounds as the main Centenario Stadium was still unfinished. This was not used until the final stages.
- In the first World Cup match France beat Mexico 4-1. Lucien Laurent had the distinction of scoring the first World Cup goal.
- The first player to be sent off in the tournament was Peru captain Mario de las Casas in a Group Three match against Romania. Peru were beaten 3-1 before the lowest ever World Cup crowd of just 300 spectators.
- Argentina were the first nation to score six goals when they beat Mexico 6-3. Guillermo Stabile was the first player to score a hat-trick.
- During that game referee Saucedo of Bolivia awarded the first World Cup penalty. In fact, he awarded five, three of which were missed. The first player to miss from the penalty-spot was Fernado Paternoster of Argentina. First to score from a penalty was Manuel Rocquetas Rosas of Mexico.
- First World Cup Final referee was John Langenus of Belgium.
- The first player to score in a World Cup Final was Pablo Dorado of Uruguay. The first winning captain was Jose Nasazzi, with Alberto Supicci the first winning coach.
1930 WORLD CUP WINNING squad
Goalkeepers: Enrique Ballesteros, Miguel Capuccini
Defenders: Ernesto Mascheroni, Jose Nasazzi (capt), Domingo Tejera
Midfield: Jose Leandro Andrade, Fernandez Lorenzo, Alvaro Gestido
Forwards: Peregrino Anselmo, Hector Castro, Pedro Cea, Pablo Dorado, Santos Iriarte, Pedro Petrone, Hector Scarone, Santos Urdinaran
Coach: Alberto Suppici