The 2010 FIFA World Final in South Africa was a major global event, watched by an estimated television audience of 700 million viewers all over the world.

How different this was from the first World Cup Final held in Montevideo, Uruguay eighty years earlier in 1930.

Just 13 teams took part and seven were from South America. England was not a member of FIFA and boycotted the tournament, leaving France, Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia as the only European entrants. Mexico amd USA also took part.

All the FIFA World Cup matches were played in just one city, Montevideo. This is also unique in FIFA World Cup history. The 13 teams played in just three stadia.

The 1930 FIFA World Cup venues were “Estadio Centenario”, which had ten matches, “Estadio Pocitos, Penarol’s ground, which had two, and the Stadium “Parque Central”, Nacional Montevideo’s ground, which had six. The final took place at “Centenario” in the heart of Montevideo. It was the first really big stadium in South America with a total capacity of 80,000 spectators. Designed by the architect Juan Scasso, it was built in only six months. The massive building cost 1.5 million Uruguayan gold pieces.

At least the referee of the final between Uruguay and Argentina was a European, the Belgian John Langenus. A very tall man who officiated in knickerbockers and tie, he was also a journalist for a number of European newspapers.

 Langenus, who later became chief of staff of the Governor of the Province of Antwerp, was a worried man. There had been riots in the group match between Uruguay and Peru and this was too much for Langenus. He insisted on bodyguards behind both goals. He demanded: “No Argentine revolvers at Centenario!.”

At the stadium, supporters were searched for weapons. The gates were opened at eight o’clock, six hours before kick-off, and at noon the ground was full. The official attendance 93,000.

Police allegedly confiscated 1,600 guns as the fans entered the stadium.

But Langenus also had another problem at the kick-off.  The Argentines as well as the hosts had brought their own footballs – and they only wanted to play with their ball.

The Jabulani, the official match ball of the 2010 FIFA World Cup seems a million miles away!

Langenus decided that lots would be drawn and finally the match kicked off. A ball from each team would be used in one half. The final score was 4-2 to Uruguay.

Jules Rimet, the father of the World Cup, bowed to the hosts after the final. “I have never before experienced such examples of emotional passion and enthusiasm as triggered by this victory.

When the Uruguay flag was hoisted as the FIFA World Cup Champions, players looked up to the flag with tears running down their cheeks. The entire population of the country celebrated the triumph.”

No sponsorship, little television coverage, no superstars, how different from the situation today – but Uruguay will always be remembered as the winners of the first FIFA World Cup.

The FIFA World Cup has come a long way in the last eighty years.

Both the emotion will always be there!

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