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Football World Cup - 1950: Brazil

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The World Cup: An Introduction | 1930: Uruguay | 1934: Italy | 1938: France | 1950: Brazil
1954: Switzerland | 1958: Sweden | 1962: Chile | 1966: England | 1970: Mexico
1974: West Germany | 1978: Argentina | 1982: Spain | 1986: Mexico | 1990: Italy | 1994: USA
1998: France | 2002: Japan and South Korea

The tournament in Brazil was the most chaotic in World Cup history. Teams had to travel thousands of miles between matches. The organisers decided to organise the tournament on a pool basis, meaning there was no designated Final - and the showpiece stadium was still being built during the last match of the tournament.

Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the Soviet Union refused to enter, leaving a total of 32 entries. Then Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Burma, Ecuador, India and Peru withdrew without playing a single qualifying match. Turkey and Scotland pulled out after qualifying.

The Tournament

By the time the tournament kicked off, there were only 13 teams in Brazil. The organisers decided to split them into four pools, but, somewhat absurdly, they decided to make two groups of four, one group of three and one group of two.

Despite the chaos, the 1950 tournament is memorable for the most humiliating result in England's footballing history. In Belo Horizonte, an England side bursting with talented players like Billy Wright, Alf Ramsey, Tom Finney, Stan Mortensen and Stanley Matthews, were beaten by the USA. A shot from the left was deflected by the head of Haitian-born Larry Gaetjens, and try as they might, England could not score.

When the result came over the wires to London, some newspapers thought it was a typing error, and published the score as England 10 USA 1.

In the final pool matches, Brazil scored 13 goals and had four points. Uruguay had struggled to gain three points. Brazil, therefore, only needed a draw in the final match against Uruguay to capture the World Cup.

A record crowd of 174,0001 crammed into the newly-built Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro expecting a Brazilian victory, and although the Brazilians scored the first goal, the unimaginable happened when the Uruguayans scored twice and took the trophy back to Montevideo. The winning goal came in the 79th minute, scored by the relatively unknown young striker Alcides Ghiggia.

Tournament Trivia

FIFA were so pleased that the British countries had decided to enter the World Cup that they designated the British Home Championship2 a qualifying group, and announced that the top two teams in the Home Championship would qualify for the World Cup finals.

The Scottish FA, however, announced that they would only travel to Brazil as British champions. Following a defeat by England in the final game, Scotland finished second in the tournament and, despite protests by the Scottish players, the Scottish FA refused to send a team to Brazil.

India withdrew from the tournament following FIFA's refusal to allow them to play in bare feet.

For The Record

Pool 1
  P W D L F A Pts
Brazil 3210825

Pool 2
  P W D L F A Pts
England 3102222

Pool 3
  P W D L F A Pts
Sweden 2110543

Pool 4
  P W D L F A Pts
Uruguay 1100802

Final Pool
  P W D L F A Pts
Uruguay 3210755

Uruguay 2 : 1 Brazil3

Tournament Top Goalscorer
Ademir Marques de Menezes (Brazil) - 9 goals

Other Entries in This Project

1This was the official attendance figure, but some unofficial sources claim that the true attendance at the game was over 200,000.2A now-defunct tournament that was contested annually between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.3Technically this game was the final game of the Final Pool, but as the game decided the winners, historians now refer to this match as the final.

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