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The 1950 FIFA World Cup was the fourth edition of the FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football championship for senior men's national teams and held in Brazil from 24 June to 16 July 1950. The planned 1942 and 1946 World Cups were cancelled due to World War II. This tournament ended the hiatus. Uruguay, who had won the inaugural competition in 1930, defeated in the four team group match final the host nation Brazil 2–1. This was the only tournament not decided by a one-match final. It was also the inaugural 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[edit]

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 rather than the originally proposed year of 1949.[2] 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.[3]

Brazil (the host country) and Italy (the defending champion) qualified automatically, leaving 14 places remaining. Of these, seven were allocated to Europe, six to the Americas, and one to Asia.

Former Axis powers[edit]

Both Germany (still occupied and partitioned) and Japan (still occupied) were unable to participate. The Japan Football Association (suspended for failure to pay dues in 1945) and the German Football Association (disbanded in 1945 and reorganized in January 1950) 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 to 1944, was allowed to qualify but withdrew before qualification was complete, and FIFA declared their matches as friendlies.[4]

United Kingdom nations[edit]

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[edit]

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.[3] Ultimately, Yugoslavia was the only Eastern European nation to take part in the tournament.

Withdrawals during qualification[edit]

Argentina, 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.[3] 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.[3] Belgium also withdrew from the qualification tournament.[3] These withdrawals meant that Switzerland and Turkey qualified without having to play their final round of matches.[5]

Qualified teams and withdrawals after qualification[edit]

The following 16 teams originally qualified for the final tournament. After the withdrawals, only 13 teams would participate in the World Cup..

  •  Bolivia
  •  Brazil (hosts)
  •  Chile
  •  England
  •  India (withdrew)
  •  Italy (1938 champions)
  •  Mexico
  •  Paraguay
  •  Spain
  •  Scotland (withdrew)
  •  Sweden
  •   Switzerland
  •  Turkey (withdrew)
  •  United States
  •  Uruguay (1930 champions)
  •  Yugoslavia
Participating countries after 3 of the 16 qualifying countries withdrew.

Before the qualification competition, George Graham, chairman of the Scottish Football Association (SFA), had said that Scotland would only travel to Brazil as winners of the Home Championship.[6] (England, by contrast, had committed to attending, even if they finished in second place).[6] After Scotland ended up in second place behind England,[7][8] 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.[6]

Turkey also withdrew, citing financial conditions that included the cost of travelling to South America.[9] FIFA invited Portugal, Ireland (FAI), 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[edit]

The draw, held in Rio on 22 May 1950, allocated the fifteen remaining teams into four groups:[10][11]

The teams' pre-tournament Elo rankings are shown in parenthesis.[12]

After the draw, the Indian football association AIFF decided against going to the World Cup, citing travel costs (although FIFA had agreed to bear a major part of the travel expenses),[13] lack of practice time, team selection issues, and valuing the Olympics over the FIFA World Cup.[13] Although FIFA had imposed a rule banning barefoot play following the 1948 Summer Olympics,[14] where India had played barefoot, the Indian captain at the time, Sailen Manna, claimed that this was not part of the AIFF's decision.[15]

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 appearance following a hiatus from 1930. This would be the United States' last appearance at the World Cup finals until 1990, and Bolivia's last until 1994.


A new playing format was proposed by the Brazilian organisers of the tournament to maximize matches and ticket sales since the stadium and infrastructure was so costly. The 16 teams were divided into four first round groups (or "pools" as they were then called) of four teams, with the winner of each group advancing to a final group stage, playing in round-robin format to determine the cup winner. 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.[16] 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.[16] FIFA originally resisted this proposal, but reconsidered when Brazil threatened to back out of hosting the tournament if this format was not used.[16]

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, a playoff would have been held to determine the group winner.[17]

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.


Ticket for the 1950 World Cup's decisive match between Brazil and Uruguay.

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 second time a national team did not play in their own kit, the first being 1934 match between Austria and Germany when both teams arrived with white kits, and Austrians borrowed blue kit from club side Napoli. 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.[18]

The opening game of the Maracanã Stadium, shortly before the 1950 FIFA World Cup

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 (2-1 and 1-0), 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.[19]

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, 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 (including five featuring hosts Brazil) 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[edit]

First round[edit]

Group 1[edit]

Source: FIFA
Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 81,649
Referee: George Reader (England)
Estádio Independência, Belo Horizonte
Attendance: 7,336
Referee: Giovanni Galeati (Italy)

Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo
Attendance: 42,032
Referee: Ramón Azón Romá (Spain)
Estádio dos Eucaliptos, Porto Alegre
Attendance: 11,078
Referee: Reginald Leafe (England)

Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 142,429
Referee: Benjamin Griffiths (Wales)
Estádio dos Eucaliptos, Porto Alegre
Attendance: 3,580
Referee: Ivan Eklind (Sweden)

Group 2[edit]

Source: FIFA

Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 29,703
Referee: Karel van der Meer (Netherlands)
Estádio Durival de Britto, Curitiba
Attendance: 9,511
Referee: Mário Vianna (Brazil)

Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 19,790
Referee: Alberto Malcher (Brazil)
Estádio Independência, Belo Horizonte
Attendance: 10,151
Referee: Generoso Dattilo (Italy)

Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 74,462
Referee: Giovanni Galeati (Italy)
Estádio Ilha do Retiro, Recife
Attendance: 8,501
Referee: Mário Gardelli (Brazil)

Group 3[edit]

Source: FIFA

India was also drawn into this group, but withdrew before playing.

Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo
Attendance: 36,502
Referee: Jean Lutz (Switzerland)

Estádio Durival Britto, Curitiba
Attendance: 7,903
Referee: George Mitchell (Scotland)

Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo
Attendance: 25,811
Referee: Arthur Ellis (England)

Group 4[edit]

Source: FIFA

France was also drawn into this group, but withdrew before playing.

Estádio Independência, Belo Horizonte
Attendance: 5,284
Referee: George Reader (England)

Final round[edit]

Source: FIFA
(C) Champion.
Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo
Attendance: 44,802
Referee: Benjamin Griffiths (Wales)
Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 138,886
Referee: Arthur Ellis (England)

Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 152,772
Referee: Reginald Leafe (England)
Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo
Attendance: 7,987
Referee: Giovanni Galeati (Italy)

Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo
Attendance: 11,227
Referee: Karel van der Meer (Netherlands)
Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Attendance: 199,854[20]
Referee: George Reader (England)


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 (and, as of 2020, the last) in 1970.[21]

8 goals
5 goals
4 goals
3 goals
2 goals
1 goal
1 own goal

FIFA retrospective ranking[edit]

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.[22][23] The rankings for the 1950 tournament were as follows:


  1. ^ The Portuguese pronunciation is [ˈkwaʁtu kɐ̃pjoˈnatu mũdʒiˈaw dʒi ˌfutʃiˈbɔw], in today's standard Brazilian pronunciation.
  2. ^ Alsos, Jan. "Planet World Cup - 1950 - Overview".
  3. ^ a b c d e Lisi (2007), p. 47
  4. ^ "World Cup 1950 Qualifying".
  5. ^ "World Cup 1950 qualifications". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
  6. ^ a b c "Scotland and the 1950 World Cup". BBC.
  7. ^ Official Blundering Leads To Scottish Defeat, The Glasgow Herald, 17 April 1950
  8. ^ Scots May Yet Take Part In World Cup Series | Strong Pressure On Selectors To Change Decision, The Scotsman, 17 April 1950, via London Hearts Supports Club
  9. ^ "History TFF". Archived from the original on 13 September 2012.
  10. ^ Lisi (2007), pp. 48–49
  11. ^ "Brazil's first World Cup draw". FIFA. 3 December 2013.
  12. ^ "World Football Elo Ratings: 1950 World Cup". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  13. ^ a b Fit to Post: Yahoo! India News "Blog Archive Barefoot in Bengal and Other Stories"
  14. ^ Lisi (2007), p. 49
  15. ^ Cronin, Brian (19 July 2011). "Did India withdraw from the 1950 World Cup because they were not allowed to play barefoot?". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ a b c Lisi (2007), p. 45
  17. ^ Fansworth, Ed (29 April 2010). "The US and the 1950 World Cup". The Philly Soccer Page. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Histórias Incríveis: México veste camisa de time gaúcho na Copa de 50" (in Portuguese). 5 February 2013.
  19. ^ Massimo di Terlizzi (2014). Stadi da leggenda: Viaggio nelle grandi arene che hanno fatto la storia del calcio (in Italian). SEM. p. 65. ISBN 978-88-97093-31-2.
  20. ^ "World Cup 2018 by Numbers". The Daily Telegraph. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  21. ^ "Brazil Legends: Jairzinho". Football Whispers. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  22. ^ page 45
  23. ^ "FIFA World Cup: Milestones, facts & figures. Statistical Kit 7" (PDF). FIFA. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2013.


  • Lisi, Clemente Angelo (2007). A history of the World Cup: 1930–2006. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5905-0. Retrieved 27 August 2010.

External links[edit]

  • 1950 FIFA World Cup on
  • Details at RSSSF; note that they often disagree with FIFA on goal scorers and times