The French certainly have a flair for organizing big competitions, the Modern Olympics, the European Cup competitions, the European Championships and of course the largest and most exciting football event going, the World Cup. Not that its originators Jules Rimet (1873-1956) FIFA president and Henri Delaunay the head of the French Football Federation could have foreseen the eventual vast scale of the new ‘international championship’ competition, fifty-eight years since the first ever international.
After the concept was accepted the venue was up for grabs, so as it was Uruguay’s 100th birthday bash, would custom build a new stadium and pay for all the participants’ expenses (the clincher in the year of the wall street crash), the big guns from South America deservedly got the nod. The losing bidders for the tournament, Sweden, Italy, Holland, Hungary and Spain immediately took their footballs home to stay for four years. The home nations were ineligible; having withdrawn from FIFA over their decision at the Olympic football tournament to allow players to be paid compensation in lieu of lost wages from their normal jobs.
One by one the other big European nations withdrew. The French squad left for the three-week steamer ride on 18 June, picking up the Romanian and Belgian squads on the way (that organisation thing again). Yugoslavia the other European representatives arrived at Montevideo four days after the others on 8 July. The best team (excepting Argentina) Uruguay also had the best preparation, they were installed at a training camp for three months before a ball was kicked, and there original 40 man squad was whittled down by their Technical Director Alberto Suppici, lessons lost on the FA for sixty years.
Of the others, the USA squad, who performed above the call of duty, were all professionals (they were nicknamed ‘the shot-putters’ by the French), the Brazilian squad had only three capped players, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico and Peru were considered lightweights. The main challenge to the hosts would prove to be their old enemy, Argentina, it had taken them a replay to beat them in the 1928 Olympic final.
Called Coupe du Monde de Football Association (renamed Jules Rimet only after the second world war), the brand new trophy was 35cm high, weighed 3.8kg and was made of gold plated silver with a base of lapis lazuli. It depicted the goddess of victory holding an octagonal challis, designed by the sculptor Abel Lafleur - yes, another Frenchman.
Unfortunately – as would again happen in 1950 – because of withdrawals the four pools (as they were termed) did not each have four teams as was intended by the organizing clowns.
The statistics below are arranged as follows; date of the match and time (local), venue, attendance (look in any of the numerous books on the world cup and there are lots of variations, if in doubt I followed Cris Freddi) + means slightly higher, – means slightly lower, ~ means the best estimate from various sources; this is followed by the officials full names (if I could find them), final result followed by half-time and if applicable extra time, goals scorers and time(s) of goal(s) scored, teams (with squad numbers after 1950) and the full names of all the players plus substitutions (officially from 1970). I believe this is the only site with the full names (and numbers) of England players in existence, and believe me I have looked for years. Listed next are the top scorers, managers and unused squad players and finally a list of youngest and oldest.
I have unashamedly followed the format of Gwidon S. Naskrent on the RSSSF site and have made many changes, but I never had the foresight to note them (sorry). I would also like to recommend Cris Freddi’s brilliant The Complete Book of the World Cup 2002.
Any errors are mine alone due to blurry-eyed enthusiasm.
Click here for notes on names.
Constructive comments or criticism welcome here.