History of the World Cup from 1930-1966

By Mike Collett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – A history of the World Cup finals from 1930 to 1966:

Uruguay 1930

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, had been discussing holding a World Cup almost since it was founded in 1904 but the Olympic soccer tournament adequately served the purpose of establishing the best team in the world in the opening decades of the 20th century.

However, by the mid-1920s, with the growth of professionalism and the game establishing strong roots in Europe and South America, FIFA decided to go ahead with their own tournament which was awarded to Uruguay, the Olympic champions of 1924 and 1928.

After some teething troubles and withdrawals, 13 countries entered and the European nations — Belgium, Romania, Yugoslavia and France — all travelled to South America on the same ship. During their two-week voyage they called in to Rio de Janeiro to courteously pick up the Brazilians.

With no qualifying competition held, the first two matches started at the same time on July 13 1930 with France beating Mexico 4-1 and the United States beating Belgium 3-0. Frenchman Lucien Laurent scored the first goal.

Hosts Uruguay and neighbors Argentina contested the final, which Uruguay won 4-2 after trailing 2-1 at halftime. For the first and only time every match was played in one city, the capital Montevideo.

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Italy 1934

Uruguay refused to compete feeling that European nations had snubbed their tournament in 1930. With FIFA’s membership now at more than 50 nations, a qualifying competition was held. The final qualifier was held three days before the competition started, with the U.S. beating Mexico 4-2 in Rome on May 24 before being knocked out 7-1 by Italy on May 27.

Italy’s ultimate triumph, to the delight of fascist leader Benito Mussolini, left both Argentina and Brazil disenchanted after they had travelled 13,000 kms for one game each in the first round.

Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 after extra time in the final after trailing 1-0 until eight minutes from time.

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France 1938

Italy travelled to France and won the World Cup again but politics and the looming specter of war kept away a number of top nations.

Austria qualified but withdrew, though some of their players appeared in the colors of Germany, and Spain were absent as their country was ravaged by civil war.

Argentina and Uruguay also stayed away. Brazil and Poland produced one of the greatest games of all time in Strasbourg with the South Americans triumphing 6-5 after extra time thanks to four goals from Leonidas who played barefoot for a spell.

In the final, Italy retained their title by beating Hungary 4-2.

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Brazil 1950

After World War Two (during which FIFA president Jules Rimet, the competition founder, reclaimed the trophy from Italy and kept it under his bed), the World Cup returned and Uruguay won it for a second time in the “final which was not a final.”

Before that, the U.S. beat England 1-0 in Belo Horizonte in one of the greatest upsets in soccer and Sweden’s amateurs beat an Italian side still ravaged by the Superga air disaster which wiped out champions Torino the previous year.

A mini-league format was used to determine the champions and Brazil, Sweden, Spain and Uruguay were the final contestants.

Brazil needed only a draw in their clash with Uruguay to clinch the trophy but lost 2-1 at Rio’s Marcana Stadium in front of an estimated crowd of 205,000, the largest to ever watch a match anywhere.

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Switzerland 1954

Olympic champions Hungary were the overwhelming favorites with a team including Ferenc Puskas, Jozsef Bozsik, Sandor Kocsis and Nandor Hidegkuti and which came to the finals unbeaten in 30 internationals.

In the previous six months they had become the first continental team to beat England at Wembley, winning 6-3, before thrashing them 7-1 in Budapest, and had redefined tactics with a deep-lying center-forward and a prototype “total football” game with players moving all over the pitch.

They started with a 9-0 win over South Korea and followed that with an 8-3 victory over West Germany, before their involvement in the infamous “Battle of Berne” with Brazil, when three players were sent off and the teams fought afterwards in the dressing rooms. A 4-2 win set up a semi-final with reigning champions Uruguay which ended in another 4-2 success.

Hungary started brilliantly in the final too, leading West Germany 2-0 after eight minutes, before the Germans staged an amazing comeback to win 3-2.

The 26 matches produced 140 goals and the highest ever scoring average of 5.4 goals a game.

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Sweden 1958

Widely regarded as the first “modern” World Cup, with growing television influence and with the 16 teams in four groups of four before a knockout competition started.

England’s hopes had been high at the start of the year but the Manchester United air crash in Munich in February 1958 cost the lives of Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards.

Brazil won the trophy for the first time with the 17-year-old Pele launched on his way to becoming the greatest player of all time. Pele scored against Wales, hit a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over France in the semi-finals and struck two more in the final, a 5-2 triumph over the hosts.

Frenchman Just Fontaine scored 13 goals in the tournament, a record which still stands.

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Chile 1962

Chile had been ravaged by a huge earthquake in 1960 which left thousands of buildings beyond repair. FIFA considered moving the tournament but Chilean FA president Carlos Dittborn famously pleaded: “We must have the World Cup because we have nothing else,” and the tournament went ahead.

It resulted in another Brazilian triumph, though Pele played in only the opening game — in which he scored a superb goal in a 2-0 victory over Mexico — before injury sidelined him.

Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final with goals from Amarildo, Zito and Vava after 1962 European Footballer of the Year Josef Masopust had put the eastern Europeans ahead.

The tournament featured the notorious “Battle of Santiago” between Italy and Chile in which two Italians were sent off and one had his nose broken by a left hook from a Chilean player.

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England 1966

The hosts triumphed again after the trophy was stolen while on display in London. It was recovered by a dog called Pickles under a bush in a London garden a few days later.

Pele was again battered, this time by Bulgaria’s defense in the group stages as Brazil’s bid for a hat-trick faltered.

North Korea entered folklore with their 1-0 win over Italy and for leading Portugal 3-0 in the quarter-finals before losing 5-3. Portugal’s Eusebio, who struck four times in that match, finished as top scorer with nine.

England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time in a thrilling final at Wembley where Geoff Hurst made history with a hat-trick.

His second goal, England’s third, remains controversial and after 44 years a debate still rages about whether the ball crossed the line after bouncing down from the crossbar.

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(Editing by Clare Fallon)

History of the World Cup from 1930-1966