The first ever FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. It took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, starting on the 13th of July. The two opening games kicked off at 15:00 hours (local time).
One opener was between France and Mexico, and in the other, the United States faced Belgium.
The inaugural World Cup tournament involved a total of 13 nations. They were:
- United States
How the First FIFA World Cup Came About
To trace the roots of the first FIFA World Cup, you have to journey back to the beginning of the game of football, and that takes us to England.
The oldest football club on the planet is generally acknowledged to be Notts County which was formed in 1860. Some would argue it was Sheffield FC in 1857, but they were amateurs, whereas Notts County were professionals.
The first international football match, according to FIFA, was between England and Scotland in 1872. The match ended in a goalless draw.
At world tournament level, the first competition to take place was the Summer Olympic Games of the II Olympiad in Paris in 1900. In those days, the Olympics was a purely amateur event. Subsequent Summer Olympic Games in which football was represented were played in:
- 1904 in Missouri, USA
- 1906 in Athens Greece
- 1908 in London, England
- 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden
- 1920 in Antwerp Belgium
- 1924 in Paris, France
- 1928 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
1928 was the last time football was to appear in the Summer Olympics for 8 years.
FIFA is Born
To get to how the World Cup came about as a separate event from the Olympics, we go back to the year 1904 when FIFA was founded. The founding nations were Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The idea of a separate, global football tournament was mooted right at the beginning.
In 1914 the FIFA Congress ratified a landmark proposal to recognise Olympic football as a world football championship event for amateurs.
As football progressed and became more of a professional sport, it meant that pro players were not able to represent their countries at the Olympics, and at the FIFA Congress in Amsterdam on May 28, 1928, FIFA made the decision to launch its own world football championship. So, the FIFA World Cup was born, and it was decided that the inaugural FIFA World Cup tournament would be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930.
The Oddities of the First World Cup Tournament
The venue itself was somewhat controversial. Some teams were unhappy about the competition being played in Uruguay because the Uruguayans had previously won Olympic gold in successive Olympic Games in 1924 and 1928, They didn’t feel that the Uruguayans needed the home advantage in 1930, and so it turned out, as they ran out eventual winners.
It has to be said that the first-ever World Cup was a bit of an oddball. For one thing, there were no qualifying matches. Anyone who applied took part.
Four of the teams journeyed in the same ship. The Belgian, French, and Romanian teams boarded the SS Conte Verde along with Jules Rimet and other FIFA officials and referees, and on the way, the ship called at Rio DE Janeiro to collect the Brazilian team.
There was even a one-armed player in Uruguay’s team – Héctor Castro. He previously lost his forearm in an accident in the workplace. His appearance in the first-ever World Cup rivals the oddity of West Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer playing with a broken collar bone and his arm in a sling 40 years later in the so-called “game of the century” in the 1970 FIFA World Cup.
Castro not only scored Uruguay’s first-ever World Cup goal, he would go on to score the goal that wrapped up the final in Uruguay’s favour.
The Format of the 1930 FIFA World Cup
There were no qualifying stages for the first World Cup tournament. The 13 nations that applied were accepted and put into four groups. They were.
- Group 1: Argentina, Chile, France, Mexico
- Group 2: Bolivia, Brazil, Yugoslavia
- Group 3: Peru, Romania, Uruguay
- Group 4: Belgium, Paraguay, USA
The results of the group matches were:
France 4 – 1 Mexico
Argentina 1 – 0 France
Chile 3 – 0 Mexico
Chile 1 – 0 France
Argentina 3 – 1 Chile
Yugoslavia 2 – 1 Brazil
Yugoslavia 4 – 0 Bolivia
Brazil 4 – 0 Bolivia
Romania 3 – 1 Peru
Uruguay 1 – 0 Peru
Uruguay 4 – 0 Romania
USA 3 – 0 Belgium
USA 3 – 0 Paraguay
Paraguay 1 – 0 Belgium
The semifinals of the 1930 World Cup
There were no quarter-finals in the 1930s World Cup. The winning national in each of the groups progressed straight through to the semifinals, both of which were played at the Estadio Centenario.
The first of the semifinals was between Argentina and the United States. It kicked off at 14:45 local time on the 26th of July. The Argentinians won by 6 goals to 1.
The second semifinal was between Uruguay and Yugoslavia. It, too, kicked off at 14:45, but on the 27th of July. The score in this one was also 6 goals to 1 but in favour of the Uruguayans.
The final (also in the Estadio Centenario) was scheduled to be played on the 30th of July, kicking off at 14:15 local time.
The 1930 World Cup Final & Winners
The 1930 FIFA World Cup final match was between Argentina and Uruguay. It was the second time the two nations had faced each other in a final since the 1928 Summer Olympic football final two years earlier.
Uruguay were the winners of the first world cup beating Argentina 2-1 in a replay after the first game had finished in a 1-1 draw.
The rivalry between the two footballing nations was at an all-time high, and it led to a disagreement before the 1930 World Cup Final match even started as both nations insisted on supplying the match ball. In the end, the issue was resolved by FIFA, who ruled that Argentina would supply the ball for the first half, and Uruguay would provide it for the second.
The final itself proved to be a high-octane affair. After 12 minutes, Pablo Dorado put Uruguay in front, but 8 minutes later, Carlos Peucelle bought the Argentine side level.
Just before halftime, in the 37th minute, Guillermo Stabile gave Argentina a 2–1 lead.
In the second half, Uruguay went on the offensive, and Pedro Cea scored Uruguay’s second goal to even the score at two apiece. In the 68th minute, Santos Iriarte scored, putting Uruguay in front, and one minute from the full-time whistle, one-armed Héctor Castro scored. The final score was Uruguay 4 – Argentina 2. You can see all 6 goals in this YouTube video.