1930: A volatile final

The football World Cup is just round the corner. Every edition of the previous cups has had its moments to remember. We start with the first-ever edition that was held in Uruguay in 1930.

The Uruguayans celebrate after beating Argentina 4-2 in the first-ever World Cup final in Montevideo on July 30, 1930.   -  AFP

 

Uruguay hosted the first-ever FIFA World Cup and despite its small frame (only 13 participating teams) the tournament had enough ammunition to announce its entrance to the sports landscape. Uruguay was celebrating its independence centenary, but most teams from Europe decided to give the competition a miss due to the long, laborious and expensive sea journey.

 

Tournament favourite, host and defending Olympic champion Uruguay played neighbour Argentina in a volatile final at the newly constructed Estadio Centenario in Montevideo on July 30. As emotions ran high around the La Plata Basin, dispelling any uncertainty as to whether the tournament had captured the imagination of the public, the host secured a controversial 4-2 victory.  That at least secured the life of Belgian referee Jean Langenus who had reluctantly agreed to officiate in the match only hours before kick-off after a boat was kept handy for him at a nearby harbour in case of any eventuality. The final also saw the use of two different balls in each half as the teams failed to agree over the choice of the match-ball. The first half was played with a ball brought by the visitor while Uruguay had its pick for the second session.

Host: Uruguay

Teams: 13

Matches: 18

Goals: 70

Attendance: 5,90,549

Winner: Uruguay

Golden Boot: Guillermo Stabile (ARG) — 8 goals

Best Goalkeeper: Enrique Ballestrero (URU)

Best Player: José Nasazzi Yarza (URU)

Despite such absurdities in the final the glorifying moment of the first championship had to be the first goal of the tournament scored by Frenchman Lucien Laurent in his team's 4-1 win over Mexico. Recalling that moment of history, Laurent says: “We were playing Mexico and it was snowing, since it was winter in the southern hemisphere. One of my team-mates centred the ball and I followed its path carefully, taking it on the volley with my right foot. Everyone was pleased but we didn’t all roll around on the ground — nobody realised that history was being made. A quick handshake and we got on with the game. And no bonus either; we were all amateurs in those days, right to the end.”

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