history of the world cup – the [sports] observer’s version


good ol' days... first world cup logo!

1930 a somewhat odd event took place in the relatively small south american country of uruguay. an english sport had been globalized mostly by english sailors and contract workers in foreign countries, and not even a hundred years earlier, no one really even knew the sport. a french organization took the freedom of founding a world association for the sport, calling it fifa. and the first president of fifa, jules rimet, dreamed of a world championship with the best countries competing for the glory to be the best in the sport.

the english would not have that, even more coming from such a traditional rival as france. they ignored fifa initially and basically treated international competition most the same way as americans still treat international basketball or baseball competitions (calling the us final in baseball “world series”). no wonder they didn’t accept the invitation to be on a ship for a few weeks to play “their” sport in some developing latin american country and show that they actually were the best. so who would be the best of the rest?

well, there was one big favorite: uruguay was selected by fifa to be

the "centenario" in montevideo, 80 years later...

the first host due to two factors: first, it was a nice gesture, since the country was celebrating 100 years of its constitution; and secondly, uruguay was the “best of the rest” at the time, having won the olympic gold medal in 1924 and defended it in 1928, against neighbors argentina. so uruguay built a huge stadium (which is still called “estadio centenario” referring to the 100 years) and organized the games – but only four european nations sent national teams over the “big lake”. after all, this was to be the first and only world cup without qualifying process – fifa extended an invitation to all of its members, they just had to say they’d play by the end of february! by the time of that deadline, only american countries had confirmed entrance: argentina, brazil, bolivia, chile, mexico, paraguay, peru and the usa. uruguay invited england officially, even though they weren’t afiliated with fifa, but they also rejected. two months before the competition, europe was still not going to play along. rimet was able to convince his own country to travel, plus belgium, romania and yugoslavia. they all were forced to go, pressured by politicians and even kings.

at the end, it was all just a peaceful cruise, with the world cup being brought on the same ship as jules rimet himself, some european referees, the national teams of belgium, france and romania; and in rio, they picked up the brazilian team, too.


right before the final uruguay x argentina...

this marked the start the first of 19 ever more global events. from basically one man’s dream almost three decades after dreaming it the first time (and founding fifa), jule rimet’s event has become the biggest in sport or in any other field, in today’s world. 13 teams more or less wanted to play in it at the time, now almost 200 at least dream of it.

by the way, uruguay won – again! against neighbors argentina, in the final – again!

and so it all began; the [sports] observer will review the world cup history by telling the tales of the best ten nations who ever participated in it. tenth place coming up soon…


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