World Cup 1950: When football’s biggest event resumed after WWII

After a gap of 12 years, the football World Cup returned for its fourth edition.

Uruguay soccer team pose before the start of the World Cup Final against Brazil, in the Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janerior, Brazil, July 16, 1950.
Uruguay became the second country to win the title for the second time, after Italy [AP Photo]

Host: Brazil
Teams: 13
Format: Group stage, finals round
Matches: 22
Goals: 88
Winners: Uruguay
Runners-up: Brazil
Golden boot: Ademir (Brazil)


After a gap of 12 years, the football World Cup returned for its fourth edition.

The destruction, tragedy and political turmoil caused by World War II took its toll on all European nations. In other parts of the world, the aftereffects were being felt too which is why it took FIFA time to find willing hosts.

South America, which had not hosted the tournament since the inaugural edition, made use of this opportunity and Brazil was selected to host its first World Cup.

Qualification for the tournament was complicated due to financial and political reasons. Defending champions Italy were in a crisis of their own as the Superga air disaster led to the death of some of Italy’s biggest football stars. The team eventually did participate but with a weakened squad.

History of the world cups:

How the football World Cup finally came about in 1930

The controversies, shocks at the 1934 FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup 1938: Italy defend title before WWII breaks out

Other qualifiers, such as India and Turkey, withdrew citing financial and logistical reasons.

England, despite its football history, played its first World Cup after finally joining the governing body.

When the tournament finally kicked off, two groups comprised four teams, one group had three teams and one group had just two teams.

The group winners advanced to the finals round, where a round-robin format was in play to maximise the number of matches and ticket sales.

Brazil seemed firm favourites to win their last match over Uruguay and be crowned champions in front of nearly 200,000 home fans. A goal in the 47th minute put them ahead but Uruguay completed a comeback to score two goals in 13 minutes and leave the home fans stunned.

Uruguay became the second country to win the title for the second time after Italy.


After more than a decade of grief and war, the world saw some colour and celebration when Brazil put itself forward as the host and brought some joy to the world’s football fans for three weeks.

The host nation built a massive 200,000-capacity stadium, the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, which was packed for the final and other matches involving Brazil.

It was the first World Cup where the jerseys had numbers on their backs.


Argentina pulled out of the tournament citing disagreements with the Brazilian Football Confederation.

Several teams that were once considered powerhouses, such as Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, could not participate as they were still reeling from the effects of war.

There was no Asian team in the tournament.

Source: Al Jazeera