1950 FIFA World Cup

The 1950 FIFA World Cup, held in Brazil from 24 June to 16 July 1950, was the fourth FIFA World Cup. It was the first World Cup since 1938, the planned 1942 and 1946 competitions having been cancelled due to World War II. It was won by Uruguay, who had won the inaugural competition in 1930. They clinched the cup by beating the hosts Brazil 2–1 in the deciding match of the four-team final group. This was the only tournament not decided by a one-match final. It was also the first tournament where the trophy was referred to as the Jules Rimet Cup, to mark the 25th anniversary of Jules Rimet's presidency of FIFA.

Host selection

Because of World War II, the World Cup had not been staged since 1938; the planned World Cups of 1942 and 1946 were both cancelled. After the war, FIFA were keen to resurrect the competition as soon as possible, and they began making plans for a World Cup tournament to take place. In the aftermath of the war, much of Europe lay in ruins. As a result, FIFA had some difficulties finding a country interested in hosting the event, since many governments believed that their scarce resources ought to be devoted to more urgent priorities than a sporting celebration.
The World Cup was at risk of not being held for sheer lack of interest from the international community, until Brazil presented a bid at the 1946 FIFA Congress, offering to host the event on condition that the tournament take place in 1950. Brazil and Germany had been the leading bidders to host the cancelled 1942 World Cup; since both the 1934 and 1938 tournaments had been held in Europe, football historians generally agree that the 1942 event would most likely have been awarded to a South American host country. Brazil's new bid was very similar to the mooted 1942 bid and was quickly accepted.


Having secured a host nation, FIFA would still dedicate some time to persuading countries to send their national teams to compete.
Italy was of particular interest as the long-standing defending champions, having won the two previous tournaments in 1934 and 1938; however, Italy's national team was weakened severely as most of its starting line-up perished in the Superga air disaster one year before the start of the tournament. The Italians were eventually persuaded to attend, but travelled by boat rather than by plane.
Brazil and Italy qualified automatically, leaving 14 places remaining. Of these, seven were allocated to Europe, six to the Americas, and one to Asia.

Former Axis powers

Both Germany and Japan were unable to participate. The Japan Football Association and the German Football Association were not readmitted to FIFA until September 1950, while the Deutscher Fußball-Verband der DDR in East Germany was not admitted to FIFA until 1952. The French-occupied Saarland had been accepted by FIFA two weeks before the World Cup.
Italy, Austria, and other countries that had been involved in World War II as allies of Germany and Japan were able to participate in qualification. Italy qualified automatically as defending champions of 1938. Finland, despite being a co-belligerent of Nazi Germany from 1941–1944, was allowed to qualify but withdrew before qualification was complete, and FIFA declared their matches as friendlies.

United Kingdom nations

The "Home" nations were invited to take part, having rejoined FIFA four years earlier, after 17 years of self-imposed exile. It was decided to use the 1949–50 British Home Championship as a qualifying group, with the top two teams qualifying. England finished first and Scotland second.

Teams refusing to participate

A number of teams refused to participate in the qualifying tournament, including most nations behind the Iron Curtain, such as the Soviet Union, 1934 finalists Czechoslovakia, and 1938 finalists Hungary. Ultimately, Yugoslavia was the only Eastern European nation to take part in the tournament.

Withdrawals during qualification

, Ecuador, and Peru in South America withdrew after the qualifying draw, in Argentina's case because of a dispute with the Brazilian Football Confederation. This meant that Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay qualified from South America by default. In Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Burma all withdrew, leaving India to qualify by default. In Europe, Austria withdrew, claiming its team was too inexperienced. Belgium also withdrew from the qualification tournament. These withdrawals meant that Switzerland and Turkey qualified without having to play their final round of matches.

Qualified teams and withdrawals after qualification

The following 16 teams originally qualified for the final tournament. However, only 13 teams would in the end participate in the World Cup after withdrawals by the rest.
Before the qualification competition, George Graham, chairman of the Scottish Football Association, had said that Scotland would only travel to Brazil as winners of the Home Championship.. After Scotland ended up in second place behind England, the Scottish captain George Young, encouraged by England captain Billy Wright, pleaded with the SFA to change its mind and accept the place in Brazil; however, Graham refused to change his position and so Scotland withdrew from the tournament.
Turkey also withdrew, citing financial problems and the cost of travelling to South America. FIFA invited Portugal, Ireland, and France, who had been eliminated in qualifying, to fill the gaps left by Scotland and Turkey. Portugal and Ireland refused, but France initially accepted and was entered into the draw.

Draw and withdrawals after the draw

The draw, held in Rio on 22 May 1950, allocated the fifteen remaining teams into four groups:
Group 1Group 2Group 3Group 4

  • The teams' pre-tournament Elo rankings are shown in parenthesis.
    After the draw, the Indian football association AIFF decided against going to the World Cup, citing travel costs, lack of practice time, team selection issues, and valuing the Olympics over the FIFA World Cup. Although FIFA had imposed a rule banning barefoot play following the 1948 Summer Olympics, where India had played barefoot, the Indian captain at the time, Sailen Manna, claimed that this was not part of the AIFF's decision.
    France also withdrew, citing the amount of travel that would be required in Group 4. There was not enough time to invite further replacement teams or to reorganise the groups, so the tournament featured only thirteen teams, with just two nations in Group 4.
    Of the thirteen teams that competed, only one, England, was making its debut. Several of the Latin American teams were competing for the first time since the inaugural 1930 tournament – this included undefeated Uruguay, as well as Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Yugoslavia was also making its first appearance since 1930. This would be the United States' last appearance at the World Cup finals until 1990, and Bolivia's last until 1994.


    The Brazilian organisers of the tournament proposed a new format in which the 16 teams were divided into four first round groups of four teams, with the four group winners advancing to a final group stage, playing in round-robin format to determine the winner. The main reason for this choice was money: the organisers had spent a great deal on stadium and infrastructure investment. A straight knockout tournament, as had been used in 1934 and 1938, would feature only sixteen games, while the proposed two rounds of the group format would guarantee thirty games, and thus more ticket revenue. In addition, this format would guarantee each team at least three games, and thus provide more incentive for European teams to make the journey to South America and compete. FIFA originally resisted this proposal, but backed down after Brazil threatened to back out of hosting the tournament if this format was not used.
    In each group teams were awarded 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. Had there been a tie on points for first place in a group, then a playoff would have been held to determine the group winner.
    The entire tournament was arranged in such a way that the four first round groups had no geographical basis. Hence, several teams were obliged to cover large distances to complete their programme, although Brazil was allowed to play two of its three group matches in Rio de Janeiro while its other group game was held in the relatively nearby city of São Paulo.


    A combined Great Britain team had recently beaten the rest of Europe 6–1 in an exhibition match and England went into the competition as one of the favourites; however, they went crashing out after a shock 1–0 defeat by the United States and a 1–0 defeat by Spain. Italy, the defending champions, lost their unbeaten record at the World Cup finals with a 3–2 defeat by Sweden in its opening match and failed to progress to the second round.
    The final match in Group 1 between Switzerland and Mexico was the first time a national team did not play in their own kit. Both teams arrived with only their red kits, so the Brazilian Football Confederation tossed a coin, with Mexico thus earning the right to play in their own kit - a right they waived as a friendly gesture, allowing the Swiss to wear their own kit while Mexico changed. The local team that lent their shirts was Esporte Clube Cruzeiro from Porto Alegre. The shirts had vertical blue and white stripes.
    The final group stage involved the teams that had won their groups: Brazil, Spain, Sweden and 1930 FIFA World Cup champions Uruguay, who were making their first World Cup appearance since winning the inaugural tournament. The World Cup winner would be the team that finished on top of this group. The final group's six matches were shared between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Brazil played all its final group matches at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio while the games that did not involve the host nation were played in São Paulo.
    Brazil won their first two matches with a 7–1 thrashing of Sweden and 6–1 rout of Spain, putting them on top of the group with one game left to play against Uruguay; in second and only a point behind. Brazil had scored 23 goals in the tournament and only conceded four, and so were strong favourites. The two teams had played three matches against each other in the Copa Río Branco, played in Brazil two months previously, with one match won by Uruguay 4-3 and two by Brazil, who won the tournament. Thus the difference in quality between the teams was not excessive; unlike Spain and Sweden the Uruguayans were used to the challenges in the big South American stadiums.
    On 16 July, before a huge home crowd of 199,954 in the Estádio do Maracanã, the host nation only had to draw against Uruguay and the trophy would be theirs. After such crushing victories over Spain and Sweden, it looked certain they would take the title, and the home nation duly went ahead in the second minute of the second half, thanks to a goal from Friaça. However, Uruguay equalised and then, with just over 11 minutes left to play, went ahead 2–1 when Alcides Ghiggia squeaked a goal past Moacyr Barbosa, so Uruguay was crowned World Cup champions for a second time. This stunning defeat surprised Brazil and is referred to as the Maracanazo.
    The average attendance of nearly 61,000 per game, aided greatly by eight matches held in the newly built Maracanã, set a record that would not be broken until 1994. Not counting the Maracanã matches, the average attendance was a still-impressive 37,500; however, the only venues that saw crowds comparable to or greater than those in recent World Cups were the Maracanã and São Paulo. Other venues saw considerably smaller crowds.


    Six venues in six cities around Brazil hosted the 22 matches played for this tournament. The Maracanã in the then-capital of Rio de Janeiro hosted eight matches, including all but one of the host's matches, including the Maracanazo match in the second round robin group that decided the winners of the tournament. The Pacaembu stadium in São Paulo hosted six matches; these two stadiums in São Paulo and Rio were the only venues that hosted the second round robin matches. The Estádio Sete de Setembro in Belo Horizonte hosted three matches, the Durival de Britto stadium in Curitiba and the Eucaliptos stadium in Porto Alegre each hosted two matches, and the Ilha do Retiro stadium in far-away Recife only hosted one match.


    Match officials

    ;North America
    ;South America

    Group 1


    Group 2


    Group 3


    Group 4

    Final round



    With eight goals, Brazil's Ademir was the tournament's top scorer. In total, 88 goals were scored by 48 players, with only one of them credited as an own goal.
    Alcides Ghiggia of Uruguay became the first player ever to score in every game: Jairzinho would be the second in 1970.
    ;8 goals
    ;5 goals
    ;4 goals
    ;3 goals
    ;2 goals
    ;1 goal
    ;1 own goal
    In 1986, FIFA published a report that ranked all teams in each World Cup up to and including 1986, based on progress in the competition, overall results and quality of the opposition. The rankings for the 1950 tournament were as follows: