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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: February 24, 2:48 PM UK
World Cup 1930

John Brewin and Martin Williamson

Winners: Uruguay
Teams: 13
Teams in qualifiers: N/A
Notable absentees: Of the major European countries, only France took part
Surprises: USA, who finished third
Golden Boot: Guillermo Stabile (Argentina) -- 8
Stats: A total of 70 goals were scored (3.89 per match); Argentina (18) scored the most
Format: One group of four and three groups of three in the qualifying stage, with the top from each group going into the semi-finals
Number of matches 18

Innovations
• This was the first World Cup
• Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and USA were seeded (USA because they had a professional league)

Controversies
• Eight weeks before the start, there were no European entries and the fact that four finally took part was only down to an offer from FIFA president Jules Rimet to underwrite all their costs
• The group match between Argentina and France ended six minutes early because of an error by the referee, with Argentina leading 1-0. After a half-hour delay, the game resumed but there were no more goals
• Peru's captain, Placido Galindo, became the first player to be sent off after a series of fights in the group match against Romania, one of which had to be broken up by the police
• Uruguays second goal in their 6-1 semifinal win over Yugoslavia is said to have been scored with an assist from a policeman, who reportedly kicked the ball back onto the pitch. The referee allowed play to go on and Peregrino Anselmo netted

Trivia
• There were two balls used in the final -- one picked by Uruguay in the first half, one by Argentina in the second
• Alex Villaplane, France's captain, was executed in 1944 for collaborating with the Germans
• The USA physio knocked himself out when he ran onto the pitch to treat a player, dropped a bottle of chloroform and inhaled the fumes as he bent over to pick it up. He had to be stretchered off
• Uruguay goalkeeper Antonio Mazzali became the first person to be expelled from a team after he was found to have sneaked out of the hotel to visit his family
• The attendance of 300 in the group match between Peru and Romania remains a World Cup low
• The trophy, originally called Victory, was designed by French sculptor Abel Lafleur


Though it was the English who gave the world organised football, it was the French who bequeathed football its biggest tournament. The 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 event. As a nation celebrating its 100th year of independence, as well as being the holders of the Olympic football title, Uruguay 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, a carnival atmosphere greeted the 13 teams that had accepted the invitation.

Only four European teams -- France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Romania -- boarded ocean liners to go to South America. The Romanian team were the plaything of King Carol, who assumed the selection duties, 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 to book a semifinal place, but there the romance was to end. The Argentinians, for whom centre-forward Guillermo Stabile 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 Jose 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 Stabile notching up his eighth goal of the tournament and putting the Argentines into a 2-1 lead, Uruguay scored three unanswered goals to make them winners of the inaugural Mondial. A 25-yard shot from Santos Iriarte put them into the lead and, after Stabile 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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