Uruguay 1930: The history of the FIRST EVER World Cup
In 1930, the first World Cup in history was played in Uruguay. Due to the distances, only 13 teams played.
The World Cup is the most watched sporting event in history. According to FIFA, the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia reached an average television audience of 517 million live viewers. In contrast, the number of viewers of the 2021 Super Bowl is almost four times less. This is an event like no other. But, like everything in the world, it had a beginning.
The first World Cup in history was in 1930 and was played in South America, more specifically in Uruguay. Before that, players could only represent the national team at the Olympics. The 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games were played under FIFA regulations and both were won by Uruguay. Although FIFA does not recognize them as "World Cups", the South American country does recognize them and therefore uses 4 stars on its shirt (instead of 2).
However, Jules Rimet (President of FIFA), felt that the Olympics were taking away the prominence of football and therefore decided to create a separate tournament. It was decided to choose Uruguay as the venue for 2 reasons. The first is because it was the country that had won the previous 2 Olympic Games and because it was the Centenary of its independence. The first World Cup was inaugurated on July 13 at the Centenario Stadium and was attended by 13 countries: seven from South America, four from Europe and two from North America. The low European participation was due to the enormous distances. The teams were invited, as there was no qualifying process.
As there were only 13 teams, 4 groups were created, of which only the first would qualify. In group 1, Argentina was the leader of the group, after beating France, Mexico and Chile. In group 2, Yugoslavia got a first place after beating Brazil and Bolivia. In group 3, local Uruguay qualified for the semifinals after beating Romania and Peru. And in the last group, the winner was the United States, after beating Belgium and Paraguay. Interestingly, there were no draws.
In the semifinals, Uruguay and Argentina easily beat the United States and Yugoslavia, both games 6-1. The final was played on July 30 at the Centenario Stadium, which was attended by 68,000 spectators. It was a very tense match since the "Clásico del Río de la Plata" was and is one of the greatest rivalries in the history of this sport. For these reasons, the Belgian referee, John Langenus, demanded police precautions. Before the game, there was a discussion about the ball, the Argentines wanted to play with their ball and the Uruguayans with theirs. In the end, it was agreed to play a half-time with each one.
The match had to be stopped several times due to the huge number of injured players. As there were no yellow or red cards (they hadn't been invented yet), there were a lot of fouls (some very dangerous). In the end, Uruguay won the match 4-2 and became the first FIFA world champion. Uruguay started losing 2-1 (Argentine ball), but then won 4-2 (Uruguayan ball).
The day after the final was declared a national holiday in Uruguay; while in Buenos Aires, there were incidents between the police and many fans who tried to enter the Uruguayan embassy.
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