Breakaway from Olympics, boat full of footballers and shoddy refereeing headline inaugural FIFA WC

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Members of Uruguayan team celebrate after Winning the Jules Rimet trophy (Getty Images)

The first-ever football World Cup was the brainchild of the then Fifa president Jules Rimet. The Olympic football tournaments of the 1920s were open to amateur players only and this forced Rimet to conceive the idea of a breakaway competition which would be truly global and his vision came to fruition in 1930. Uruguay hosted the first World Cup as they were the predominant force at that time, having won two Olympic golds in 1924 and 1928.
The first World Cup had no qualification rounds and all Fifa members — 41 then — were invited to take part. In the end, though, only 13 countries came on board as most of the European teams stayed away. France took part largely due to Rimet being French and would go on to be the winner in the first-ever World Cup game, played on July 13, 1930, as they beat Mexico 4-1.
The 1930 World Cup is also a story of a steam boat, the Conte Verde. The vessel set off from France with the Romanian team on board and would pick up the French, Belgian and Brazilian teams before reaching Montevideo a fortnight later. The Yugoslavs were late in confirming their participation and had to take a different route to reach Uruguay.
Their travel woes did not affect the young Yugoslav squad with an average age of 22 as they stormed into the semis — the only remaining European team — along with United States, Argentina and hosts Uruguay. Yugoslavia lost to Uruguay 1-6, in a match where questionable decisions were made in favour of the home team. Uruguay’s third goal was scored after the ball had gone out of play and thrown back in by a policeman without the referee noticing.
The final pitted the two fiercest rivals of the time, Uruguay and Argentina. One team chose their ball for the first half while the other team for the second, a measure of the distrust between the two. Uruguay prevailed 4-2 in the end, confirming their status as the best in the world.
(Narayanan S | TNN)