The 1930 FIFA World Cup was the first tournament to be hosted in World Cup history. Uruguay who had won the last two world championships in 1924 and 1928 played host to it from 13th-30th June after the world football governing body had selected the South American nation as hosts.
Thirteen teams (seven from South America, four from Europe and two from North America) entered the tournament. Only a few European teams chose to participate because of the difficulty of travelling to South America.
The first World Cup was the only one without qualification. Every country affiliated with FIFA was invited to compete, and given a deadline of 28 February 1930 to accept. Plenty of interest was shown by nations in the Americas; Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and the USA all entered.
Only our European teams made the trip by sea to Montevideo, Uruguay: Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia.
All matches took place in Montevideo and three stadiums including Estadio Centenario, Estadio Pocitos and Estadio Parque Central where used.
The 13 teams were drawn into four groups, with Group 1 containing four teams, and the others containing only three. Each group played a round-robin format, with two points awarded for a win and one point for a draw. If two teams had tied on points to win a group, a play-off would have been used to decide the group winner; however, this was not necessary.
The four group winners progressed to the knockout semi-final stage. Extra time was available in the knockout matches if the two teams were level after ninety minutes, but it was not required.
The first two World Cup matches took place simultaneously, and were won by France and the USA, who defeated Mexico and Belgium, respectively. Lucien Laurent of France scored the first goal in World Cup history.
The four group winners, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Uruguay and the United States, moved to the semi-finals. The two semi-final matches saw identical scores. The first semi-final was played between the USA and Argentina on a rain-drenched pitch. The United States team, which featured six British-born players, lost midfielder Raphael Tracy after ten minutes to a broken leg as the match became violent. A Monti goal halfway through the first half gave Argentina a 1–0 half-time lead. In the second half, the strength of the United States team was overwhelmed by the pace of the Argentinian attacks, the match finishing 6–1 to Argentina.
In the second semi-final there were shades of the 1924 Summer Olympics match between Yugoslavia and Uruguay. Here, though, Yugoslavia took a surprise lead. Uruguay then took a 2–1 lead. Then shortly before half-time Yugoslavia had a goal disallowed by a controversial offside decision. The hosts scored three more in the second half to win 6–1, Pedro Cea completing a hat-trick.
The now-traditional third place play-off was not established until 1934, so the format of the 1930 World Cup is unique in not distinguishing between the third and fourth placed teams. United States finished third and Yugoslavia fourth, due to a better goal difference on otherwise identical records.
The resounding wins for Uruguay and Argentina in the semi-finals meant the final was a repeat of the matchup in the 1928 Olympic final, which Uruguay had won 2–1 after a replay.
After 12 minutes, Pablo Dorado put the hosts into the lead, before Argentine winger Carlos Peucelle equalized 8 minutes later, beating goalkeeper Enrique Ballestrero with a powerful shot. In the 37th minute, tournament top scorer Guillermo Stabile gave Argentina a 2–1 lead going into the break. Uruguay leveled the score 12 minutes into the second half via a goal from Pedro Cea, before Santos Iriarte restored the lead for the hosts in the 68th minute. With a minute left, Hector Castro put Uruguay up 4–2, sealing the victory for Uruguay in the inaugural World Cup.