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30 July 2010

On this day in history: Uruguay win first FIFA World Cup, 1930

Founded in 1904, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association: 'International Federation of Association Football') soon fell into dispute with the International Olympic Committee about the sport's position in the Olympic games, particularly with regard to the issue of what constituted amateur status. When the organisers of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics announced that soccer would not be part of the programme - due to the sport's lack of popularity in the United States - the FIFA president Jules Rimet decided to organise an international football competition. This competition took place in Uruguay, who were the current Olympic champions, in 1930, which was the bi-centenary of Uruguayan independence.

Thirteen national teams competed for the inaugural World Cup. Only four European teams travelled across the Atlantic to play the nine teams from the Americas. Initially, no European teams signed up, because their associations could not afford the expense of travel. In response, FIFA and the Uruguayans promised to cover the travel expenses of any European team. One notable absentee, the England team, failed to take part because the Football Association had withdrawn from FIFA three years before and declined a special invitation from the Uruguayan Football Association.

The competition format involved the division of teams into four groups. Each team played the others in their group once and the winners of each mini-league won a place in the semi-finals. In the semi-finals the winners of Group 1, Argentina beat the USA, winners of Group 4; the Group 3 winners and hosts Uruguay defeated Yugoslavia - strangely, the result of both games was 6:1.

On 30th July 1930, Uruguay faced their neighbours Argentina in the final at the Estadio Centenario, Montevideo in front of around 80,000 spectators. The hosts scored first, but Argentina responded with two goals to take a lead at half time. Three second-half goals for Uruguay sealed a 4:2 victory and they lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time.

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