Economic depression, lack of interest and long journeys meant that most of Europe’s top teams refused to participate in the first World Cup.
Format: Group stage, semi-finals and final
golden boat: Guillermo Stábile (Argentina)
Since its inception in 1904, FIFA has claimed the right to organize the FIFA World Cup, but it took 26 years to organize the first mega tournament.
The economic depression, lack of interest in a professional world tournament, and long travel times to South America meant that most major European football nations refused to participate in the first World Cup.
In the only World Cup where all member nations were invited to participate without any qualifying criteria, seven of the 13 teams were from the Americas.
Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia were roped in less than two months before the tournament.
All four teams arrived in the host city of Montevideo on the same ship and missed a crucial training period due to their transatlantic journey.
Coming into the tournament with two consecutive Olympic gold medals and being the host nation, Uruguay were the clear favorites and lived up to expectations by remaining undefeated.
The final saw heated competition between the hosts and Argentina, both on and off the pitch. Thousands of Argentine fans arrived in the Uruguayan capital on boats and were searched for weapons at the stadium.
The hosts opened the scoring but came on at half-time down 2-1. Uruguay kept the pressure on and eventually sealed a 4-2 victory to become the first world champions.
After more than 20 years of leading the sport’s global operations, FIFA has brought 13 countries under its banner despite economic, political and logistical difficulties.
The participation of footballers in a professional tournament has led to the elevation and recognition of the sport worldwide. Employers were persuaded to let the players keep their jobs after the tournament.
The tournament itself showcased the talent of some lesser-known footballing nations, such as the United States and Yugoslavia, who reached the semi-finals.
Thousands of spectators filled the stadiums and the matches drew great interest from fans around the world.
The first-ever World Cup hat-trick was scored by Guillermo Stábile.
Europe’s elite nations stayed away and robbed the players of a chance to showcase their talent on the world stage.
Fans also missed the chance to see some of the continent’s best footballers.
Before the final, the Argentine players and fans felt threatened by the home fans. Some visiting supporters complained of harassment from their Uruguayan counterparts during the final.
This led to attacks and vandalism of the Uruguayan Embassy in Argentina and soured relations between the two countries.