Rough start to a fabulous journey

Jules Rimet (left) presents the first World Cup trophy (the Jules Rimet Trophy) to Dr Raul Jude, the president of the Uruguayan Football Association.

The FIFA World Cup conjures images of great splendour and extravagance apart from the promise of a fiesta of football. The quadrennial event is celebrated with great pomp and pride in modern times with the best in the world showcasing their skills. But not many will know the humble beginnings of the tournament.

FIFA was founded in 1904 and prior to the World Cup, the biggest prize in the sport used to be the Olympic gold. That wasn't enough for two Frenchman -- Jules Rimet and Henri Delaunay -- who changed the landscape of the sport after working relentlessly to bring it out of the shadow of the Olympics.

It was decided after the 1928 Amsterdam Games that FIFA will host their inaugural World Cup two years later with five nations (Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay) vying to play hosts.

Much against the odds, Uruguay pipped the other European giants after promising to pay the travel and hotel expenses for the visiting teams, besides building a new stadium in Montevideo.

Until three weeks prior to the start, not a single European nation had registered to play, more out of spite at not being handed the chance to host the event. Eventually, a total of 13 teams, including three European countries, were drawn in four groups with France sauntering to a 4-1 result over Mexico in the opener.

The hosts and their neighbours Argentina were heavily tipped as favourites and come the final day, these two teams were standing at different ends of the pitch.

More than 90,000 fans packed into the Estadio Centenario and most left with an ecstatic feeling as Uruguay etched their names in history books with a thumping 4-2 win, setting the tone for what has gone on to become one of the biggest showcase events in the sporting world.

 

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Rough start to a fabulous journey

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