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Monday, April 17, 2006
ESPNsoccernet: May 2, 9:23 PM UK
World Cup 1930 - Hosts Uruguay

John Brewin

Though it was the English who gave the world organised football it was the French who bequeathed football its biggest tournament.

Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) had been formed in Paris in 1904 and its president, Jules Rimet, formulated the idea of a tournament to determine the best international side in the world. In 1929 FIFA passed a vote to hold the first ever World Cup.

Uruguay was the only country to volunteer to host the tournament. As a country celebrating its centenary of independence and current holders of the Olympic football title, she proved an excellent host.

The 95,000 capacity Estadio Centenario was purpose-built in Montevideo and, though building work was not finished until five days after the tournament started, it was a carnival atmosphere that greeted the thirteen teams that had answered positively to the Uruguayan invitation.

Only four European teams - France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Romania - boarded ocean liners to go to South America. The Romanian team was the play-thing of King Carol, who assumed the selection duties for his team. But royalty held no sway in the virgin competition as the Romanians were eliminated in the first round.

Aside from Yugoslavia, all the Europeans were knocked out in the first group stage and the semi-finals saw Uruguay line up against the Yugoslavs while Argentina met the United States. The Americans were a team made up of English and Scottish emigres and had easily brushed past Paraguay and Belgium in the groups, going further than any USA team has since. But there the romance was to end. The Argentinians, for whom centre-forward Guillermo StÓbile was in great form, thrashed them 6-1. The Yugoslavs were put to the sword by Uruguay by the same score.

The hosts were living up to their billing as tournament favourites with winger JosÚ Andrade, reckoned by many to be the first great black player, tearing the defence apart.

The final saw a battle of two long-standing rivals who face each other across the River Plate. And despite StÓbile notching up his eighth goal of the tournament and putting the Argentinians into a 2-1 lead, Uruguay scored three unanswered goals to make them winners of the inaugral Mondial.

A 25-yard shot by Santos Iriarte put them into the lead and after StÓbile had hit the post, the clincher was scored in the last minute by Hector Castro, a centre-forward who had lost his left arm in a childhood accident.

The partisan capacity crowd at the Estadio Centenario could now call their heroes world champions.

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