Today in Sports History – 1930 World Cup
It’s pretty crazy how things change over time. Nowadays, hundreds of countries play in matches over a span of two years to qualify for the FIFA World Cup; in 1930, when the tournament first started, teams did not have to qualify since 13 nations were invited to participate. Although we look at the tournament today as the highest level of competition in the sport, it was originally seen as a nuisance by many countries.
- Number of participating teams: 13
- Top scorer: Argentina’s Guillermo Stabile (8 goals)
- Number of games: 18
- Total goals scored: 70
- Average goals per game: 3.89
- Highest scoring game: Argentina’s 6-3 win over Mexico on July 19
- Total attendance: 434,500
- Average attendance: 24,139
The fact that the 1930 World Cup was set to take place in South America did not make European nations too happy. Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden all had attempted to host the tournament, and once Uruguay was given the bid, those 4 countries took the childish route and decided not to participate.
Uruguay even offered to pay all travel and hotel expenses for the visiting teams, but the thought of making the long boat ride, a three-week journey in those days, convinced the Europeans from joining. It was Ttwo months before the scheduled start of the World Cup, and not a single European nation was committed to playing. Tough to imagine, right?
After some deliberation, FIFA president Jules Rimet intervened and practically forced Belgium, Romania, Yugoslavia and France to participate. The 13 teams were divided into four groups: “Pool 1 consisted of Argentina, Chile, France and Mexico; Pool 2 saw Yugoslavia grouped with Brazil and Bolivia; Uruguay competed in Group 3 alongside Romania and Peru, while Pool 4 was made up of the U.S., Belgium and Paraguay.”
Uruguay and Argentina were pre-tournament favorites, and it was no surprise when they easily advanced part the group round and the semifinals. Argentina demolished the United States 6-1, and Uruguay won by the same score against Yugoslavia to set up the first World Cup final.
Looking back on that World Cup, there’s no doubt that the final was the match of the tournament. Thousands of fans from Buenos Aries, Argentina made the trip across the River Plate by boat to see their country-men conquer the team from Uruguay in the all-South American final. Over 90,000 fans were at the game, and things were just about to get going. Well, until there was a game delay because both sides wanted to use their own balls for the game. It was a very different era, seemingly, and neither side trusted the other.
The visitors (Argentina) took a 2-1 lead right before the half, when Stabile, the tournament’s top scorer, smoothly put the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Argentinians, the second half belonged to the home team. Uruguay came alive in the final 45 minutes, behind goals by Pedro Cea, Santos Iriarte, and Hector Castro, winning the first ever World Cup.
SOME MORE FACTS
- 1930 World Cup is one of only two tournaments that did not stage a third-place game. The other was in Brazil, 1950.
- The lowest recorded attendance for a single game in World Cup history came on July 14, when Romania defeated Peru 3-1. Only 300 fans showed up.
- July 31, the day after the final, was declared a national holiday in Uruguay.