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 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.
Because of World War II, the World Cup had not been staged since 1938. 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 (it was originally planned to take place in 1949).
The Brazilian organizers of the tournament proposed a new format in which the 16 teams were divided into four first round groups (or “pools” as they were then called) 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 organizers 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 (including the third-place playoff), 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.
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 favorites; however, it was not to be, as they went crashing out on 29 June in a shock 1-0 defeat by the US which, combined with their 1–0 defeat by Spain, led to England being eliminated. Italy, the defending champions, lost their unbeaten record at the World Cup finals when the team was defeated 3–2 by Sweden in its opening match. Because of this defeat, Italy 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. There was a meeting held between the Brazilian Football Confederation they tossed a coin and Mexico won so it seemed they would get to play in their own kit. However they gave a nice gesture to the Swiss by allowing them to wear their kit so Mexico did the honors of changing. The local team that lent out their shirts was Esporte Club Cruzeiro from Porto Alegre. The shirts had vertical blue and white stripes.
The final group stage involved the teams who 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 managed to finish 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 Estadio do Maracana 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. Before the decisive match, Brazil was sitting on top of the final group and had one game left to play against Uruguay, in second and only a point behind. The two teams had faced in the Copa Rio Branco played in Brazil two months before in three matches, one won by Uruguay 4-3 and two by Brazil (2-1 and 1-0) who won the tournament, thus the difference in quality between both 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 (some estimated as 205,000) 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, especially as the home nation went ahead in the second minute of the second half, thanks to a goal from Friaca; however, Uruguay equalized and then with just over 11 minutes left to play, went ahead 2–1 when Alcides Ghiggia squeaked a goal past Moacyr Barbosa, and Uruguay was crowned World Cup champions for a second time. This stunning defeat surprised Brazil and is referred to as the Maracanazo.
Brazil’s Ademir Marques de Menezes commonly known as Ademir was the top scorer of the tournament with eight (8) goals.