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On This Date in Sports July 16, 1950

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Uruguay wins the World Cup for the second time, stunning host Brazil 2-1 in Rio de Janeiro. Uruguay had won the inaugural World Cup two decades earlier. Alcides Ghigga’s goal in the 79th minute was the difference maker. The 1950 tournament was the first since Italy won in 1938, during World War II, the World Cup had actually been hidden in Italy to keep it away from the Nazis during the war.

The first global World Cup tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930 with the host nation winning four years later Italy also won as the host nation. The Italians won again four years later in France with their dictator Benito Mussolini calling their triumph a victory for his brand of fascism. The 1942 World Cup was set to be played in Germany but were canceled due to the start of World War II. Though the war ended in 1945 there was no time to organize the 1946 tournament, so the fourth World Cup would have to wait until 1950.

By the time the 1950 World Cup arrived in Brazil, the World Cup by now called Jules Rimet Trophy in honor of the FIFA President who came up with the idea for the tournament. The trophy had a been in possession of Ottorino Barassi, an Italian FIFA official who hit in a toolbox under his bed to prevent it from landing in the hands of dictator Benito Mussolini and his Nazi allies.

By the time the tournament began 15 teams had qualified, but India and France withdrew late, leading just 13 teams competing in four groups. The format called for a change as instead of having a knockout round, the four winning teams in each group were placed in a supergroup with the winner of that group is the winner of the tournament.

Host nation Brazil captured Group 1, thanks to a 4-0 win over Mexico and a 2-0 win over Yugoslavia, with a 2-2 draw against Switzerland. Spain won Group 2, sweeping their way over the United States 3-1, Chile 2-0 and England 1-0. It would be the last appearance in the World Cup for Team USA for 40 years, though they did manage to score an upset win over England. Sweden edged out defending champion Italy in Group 3, thanks to a 3-2 win, as they also had a 2-0 win over Paraguay, as the group lost India before play began. After the withdrawal of France, two teams were left in Group 4, as Uruguay embarrassed Bolivia 8-0.

In the supergroup, Brazil dominated winning their first two games against Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1. Uruguay meanwhile played Spain to a 2-2 tie and edged Sweden 3-2 setting up their final match against Brazil. All Brazil needed was the game to end in a draw to claim the World Cup. While Sweden beat Spain 3-1 to claim third all eyes were on Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro where nearly 200,000 fans were on hand to witness the South American showdown between Brazil and Uruguay. The game was expected to be a coronation for the host nation, as parties were planned throughout the country. After a scoreless first half, Brazil took a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute on a goal by Friaca. Uruguay argued unsuccessfully that Friaca was off-sides, but took control of the game, as Brazil seemed to go into a shell trying to protect the lead instead of continuing the attack. In the 66th minute, Uruguay tied the game on a goal by Juan Alberto Schiaffino. Momentum was clearly on the side of Uruguay who needed to win the game, while Brazil tried to hold back the tide, knowing they just needed a tie to win the World Cup. That strategy failed Brazil, as Uruguay got the lead in the 79th minute on a goal by Alcides Ghigga. With just 11 minutes left Brazil was unable to get the offense going as the final was Uruguay 2 Brazil 1, as the 200,000 fans sat in stunned silence.

It would be the only World Cup played with a round robin final format, as the tournament was able to pick up steam again when it was hosted by Switzerland in 1954, a tournament won by West Germany. Brazil Final broke through in Sweden in 1958 and won three of the next four tournaments led by Pele, which led to the original World Cup named the Jules Rimet Trophy being retired and in the possession of Brazil since 1970.