The First Soccer World Champion: Uruguay

The first world champion in football was Uruguay, in the Cup held in their capital in July 1930. He beat Argentina in the final. 
The first football world champion: Uruguay

With few teams participating, the first football world championship dates back to 1930. Uruguay, the organizing country, consecrated itself as the first world champion.

We tell you about this event which represented the starting point of one of the most important competitions on the planet.

Organization of the first football world championship

Ever since the International Football Federation (FIFA, for its abbreviations in French) was founded in 1904 and the countries where this sport was practiced insisted on organizing a tournament that would bring them all together.

In the early years, however, this institution did not have sufficient infrastructure. For this reason, we will have to wait over two decades – 26 years to be more precise – before attending the first world championship.

In 1928 a congress was organized in Amsterdam in which the seat of the championship was decided: Uruguay. This small South American country already had some footballing experience behind it and had the appropriate budget to build a dedicated stadium for the championship. The established dates were from 13 to 30 July 1930.

Participants and stadiums of the first soccer world cup

Thirteen participating countries in the first world championship in the history of football were all invited by FIFA ; it was the only edition without the qualification phase. As representative countries of America were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, the United States, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Representatives of Europe were Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia. The teams were divided into three groups of three participants and one of four.

Centenary Stadium in Uruguay

There were three venues where the championship took place, although the original idea was to play all the games in an enclosure built specifically for the occasion. However, a succession of heavy rains delayed the works which were not completed in time for the inauguration and the first two meetings.

The Centenary Stadium had a capacity of ninety thousand spectators (nowadays, just over sixty thousand) and the date of its foundation is July 18, 1930. In it the match was played between the host country and Peru, with the victory of Uruguay by 1 to 0.

The second stadium was the Gran Parque Central, with a capacity of twenty thousand people (today thirty-four thousand), built in 1900 and considered the oldest in all of America.

The third is the now disappeared Pocitos Stadium, where Lucien Laurent scored the first goal in the history of the World Cup. It was demolished in 1940 and had a capacity of one thousand spectators.

Step by step of the first world champion

Uruguay was part of group 3, along with Peru and Romania. During the first match (played five days after the stipulated date, in the Centenary Stadium), he won by just one goal against Peru. In the second match he beat Romania by a striking 4-0.

Thus it was that the host country qualified for the semifinal, in which it clashed with Yugoslavia, in a match still remembered by the Uruguayans. From an initial result of 1 to 0 for Yugoslavia, the local team won 6 to 1 with a hat-trick from José Pedro Cea. In the other group, Argentina won with the same score.

The final which consecrated the first world champion

The final of the first football world championship was held on 30 July 1930 in the Centenary Stadium ; Uruguay and Argentina, the neighboring country, clashed. The presence of the fans was maximum: there were ninety-three thousand spectators, including about fifteen thousand Argentines who traveled along the Río de la Plata so as not to miss the game.

Football and flag of Uruguay

The referee was the Belgian John Langenus, who accepted the assignment on one condition: to have a boat ready in the port of Montevideo at the end of the match, in case there were any safety problems.

The first half ended 2 to 1 in favor of Argentina, but the Uruguayans reversed the situation and won 4 to 2, with goals from Pablo Dorado, José Pedro Cea, Victoriano Santos Iriarte and Héctor Castro.

Some interesting facts to remember about the first soccer world cup are : Guillermo Stábile was the goalscorer, scoring eight goals; the youngest player was the Brazilian Carvalho Leite (18) and the last survivor of the tournament was the Argentine Francisco ‘Pancho’ Varallo, who died at 100 in 2010.

Cover image courtesy of FIFA.com

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