1950 – Brazil

World Cup 1950 Final

The Uruguayan team – 1950 World Cup champion

World Cup 1950 Facts

World Cup 1950 Poster

1950 World Cup poster

  • Date: 24 June – 16 July
  • Final: Uruguay – Brazil 2-1
  • 3rd place: Sweden – Spain 3-1
  • Teams: 13
  • Stadiums: 6
  • Host cities: 6
  • Matches played: 22
  • Goals: 88
  • Attendance: 1,043,500
  • Top scorer: Ademir (Brazil) (8 goals)

World Cup 1950 Background

Originally, the 4th World Cup was to take place in the year 1942. However due to the Second War II outbreak, both the 1942 and 1946 World Cups were cancelled. The 4th World Cup was postponed and was eventually held in 1950. After World War II, FIFA wanted to continue the tradition of a World Cup and was quickly trying to find a country to host this event in 1949. Many European countries were still in ruins and were far from properly re-established and rebuilt. Therefore they weren’t much interested in hosting a World Cup and preferred to focus their resources on more important priorities.

The chances were becoming slim to find a country that was willing to host the 4th World Cup. There was 1 country Brazil which offered to host the next World Cup as long as it would be held in 1950 and not in 1949. It was also Brazil which showed interested in hosting the 1942 World Cup before World War II.

FIFA agreed, and on July 26 1946 in Luxembourg City they announced that the 4th World Cup would be held in Brazil, in the year 1950.

World Cup 1950 Background

6 host cities, with Recife being the most far away

World Cup 1950 Participants

FIFA was persuading many countries to participate in the 1950 World Cup qualifications. A total of 34 countries participated in the qualifications. But not all of the countries who used to participate before in a World Cup, entered the qualification rounds.

Of the in total 16 participants, Italy qualified automatically since they were the champions of the previous World Cup. Brazil qualified automatically since they were the 1950 World Cup host. 

Both Germany and Japan which were still occupied due to the war were banned from the qualifications. Other countries which refused to qualify for the World Cup were countries behind the Iron Curtain: USSR, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The Italian team was severely weakened due to the fatal Superga air disaster in Turin in 1949. This event killed among others the entire Torino A.C. football team which included 8 regular Italian national team players. However FIFA was able to persuade them to participate and to defend their World Cup title (Italy won the 1934 and 1938 World Cups). Italy did decide though to travel by boat rather than by plane.

Of the European countries, Austria withdrew because it thought the team was too inexperienced, and Belgium as well. This meant Switzerland and Turkey qualified automatically. 

Even after the qualifications were finished, there were countries that have withdrawn from participating in the 1950 World Cup. Scotland is one of them. The chairman of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) stated they would only travel to Brazil if they would make it to the first place in the British Home Championship. This Championship was considered as a qualifying group. Scotland at the end ‘only’ made it to the 2nd place behind England what was still enough to have qualified. But the chairman kept his word and withdrew the Scottish team from the World Cup. 

Turkey also withdrew due to financial issues regarding the trip to Brazil. This resulted in FIFA inviting France and Portugal (both eliminated in the qualifications rounds) to fill up the empty spots. Portugal refused and France initially accepted. 

After the pools were announced, there were countries again which withdrew from the 1950 World Cup. France changed their mind since according to them, all that travelling to host cities as a pool 4 country was too much of a hassle. A match had to be played in Recife which was the city most far away from the other 5 host cities. The trip would simply take too much time according to France.

So forgetting the countries which withdrew, how many countries did participate? In total 13 countries.

5 places for Europe excluding Italy were allocated to the following countries: Sweden, Spain, Yugoslavia, England and Switzerland. England finally qualified for the first time. This is also the first time Yugoslavia played as Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and would continue to do so till the 1990 World Cup.

Although football was invented in England, it took 20 years since the first World Cup before England finally participated. England missed previous World Cups since they had a bad relationship with FIFA. Both parties couldn’t agree about the definition of an amateur player and whether they should be paid or not. The British Football Association had their own system and didn’t like FIFA’s interference and way of administering payments. England rejoined FIFA only in 1946 after leaving the organisation in 1928.

4 places for South America excluding Brazil were allocated to the following countries: Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.  All 4 countries qualified automatically without having played any matches. This because Argentina, Ecuador and Peru withdrew from the qualifications. Argentina had a dispute with the Brazilian Football Association and decided not to qualify.

2 places for North/Central America and Caribbean were allocated to the following countries: United States and Mexico.

Of the Asian countries Philippines, Indonesia and Burma withdrew. This meant country India was automatically qualified. India however was another country which withdrew from the tournament due to team selection issues, lack of practice and travelling costs. India also favoured the Olympic Games and didn’t see great importance in a World Cup.

Another reason India supposedly did not participate in the 1950 World Cup is because they were not allowed by FIFA to play barefoot. It has been said however this reason has been invented in order to cover up the real reasons why India didn’t participate, such as lack of importance of a World Cup and focus on the Olympics.

 This was the last World Cup which contained less than 16 teams.

World Cup 1950 Match Ball

1950 World Cup match ball “Superball Duplo T” – First ball to have a valve

World Cup 1950 Pools

Since originally 16 countries were planned to participate, the Brazilian organizers came up with the idea of creating 4 pools with each 4 teams. The teams would then play all the other teams in the same pool. This is the round-robin format which was used for the last time in the 1930 World Cup. 1 point would be rewarded for a draw and 2 points for a win. The winner of each pool would advance to the Final Round. If teams had equal points for the first place in a pool, a play-off had to be played.

The aspect which was unique about the Brazilian organizers’ ideas was the Final Round. The organizers introduced the mini league (round-robin) tournament format in the Final round as well. This means that in the Final Round, the 4 countries had to play all the other countries in this round. In other words, there was no real Final, the 1950 World Cup champion would be the country who gained the most points. The match for the third place was therefore excluded for the last time as well.

The reason for such a format is the fact that in total 30 matches would be played rather than merely 16 matches. 16 matches would have been played if the World Cup would be a straight knockout tournament such as in the 1934 and 1938 World Cups. 30 matches meant more ticket revenue coming in which compensates for the high investments made in the stadiums and infrastructure. In addition to these reasons, each participating country had to play at least 3 matches which was an incentive to make the (long) trip to Brazil.

FIFA originally did not want to accept this format, but since Brazil threatened to not host the 1950 World Cup, FIFA had to accept. After all, FIFA had a hard time finding a host country for the first World Cup after World War II.

Since ultimately only 13 countries participated, a total of 22 matches have been played and not 30. Uruguay was lucky to only have played 1 match in pool 4.

The 4 seed countries were Brazil, England, Italy and Uruguay. They were kept apart from each other and were placed in different pools.

The pools were as followed:

Pool 1Pool 2Pool 3Pool 4
United States

World Cup 1950 Stadiums

The 1950 World Cup was hosted in 6 host cities, and 6 stadiums have been used to host the matches.

The following 6 cities and 6 stadiums were used in Brazil:

Estádio do Maracanã
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 199,854
Matches: 8
Status: Especially built for the 1950 World Cup and will host 7 2014 World Cup matches including the Final
Estádio do Pacaembu
Location: São Paulo
Opened: 1940
Capacity: 60,000
Matches: 6
Status: Renovated in 2007 and includes the Football Museum
Estádio Independência
Location: Belo Horizonte
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 30,000
Matches: 3
Status: Still exists and is the 2nd most important stadium after the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte
Estádio Durival de Britto
Location: Curitiba
Opened: 1947
Capacity: 10,000
Matches: 2
Status:Still exists and is currently known often as Estádio Vila Capanema
Estádio dos Eucaliptos
Location: Porto Alegre
Opened: 1931
Capacity: 20,000
Matches: 2
Status: Closed down in 1969 after Estádio Beira-Rio was officially in use, in 2012 the stadium was demolished
Estádio Ilha do Retiro
Location: Recife
Opened: 1937
Capacity: 10,000
Matches: 1
Status: Still exists and is the 1st stadium built in Recife

World Cup 1950 Schedule

Pool 1 matches
Date Home Team Results Away Team
24 June Brazil 4:0 (1:0) Mexico
25 June Yugoslavia 3:0 (0:0) Switzerland
28 June Brazil 2:2 (2:1) Switzerland
28 June Yugoslavia 4:1 (2:0) Mexico
01 July Brazil 2:0 (1:0) Yugoslavia
02 July Switzerland 2:1 (2:0) Mexico
Pool 1 results
TeamPlayedWonDrawLostGoals ForGoals AgainstPoints
Pool 2 matches
Date Home Team Results Away Team
25 June England 2:0 (1:0) Chile
25 June Spain 3:1 (0:1) USA
29 June Spain 2:0 (2:0) Chile
29 June USA 1:0 (1:0) England
02 July Spain 1:0 (0:0) England
02 July Chile 5:2 (2:0) USA
Pool 2 results
TeamPlayedWonDrawLostGoals ForGoals AgainstPoints
Pool 3 matches
Date Home Team Results Away Team
25 June Sweden 3:2 (2:1) Italy
29 June Sweden 2:2 (2:1) Paraguay
02 July Italy 2:0 (1:0) Paraguay
Pool 3 results
TeamPlayedWonDrawLostGoals ForGoals AgainstPoints
Pool 4 match
Date Home Team Results Away Team
02 July Uruguay 8:0 (4:0) Bolivia
Pool 4 results
TeamPlayedWonDrawLostGoals ForGoals AgainstPoints
Final Round
Date Home Team Results Away Team
09 July Uruguay 2:2 (1:2) Spain
09 July Brazil 7:1 (3:0) Sweden
13 July Brazil 6:1 (3:0) Spain
13 July Uruguay 3:2 (1:2) Sweden
16 July Sweden 3:1 (2:0) Spain
16 July Uruguay 2:1 (0:0) Brazil

World Cup 1950 Memorable Matches

Pool Matches

Pool 1

Brazil – Yugoslavia 2-0
Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro – attendance: 142,000

Since Brazil against Switzerland ended in a draw, Brazil had to win the match against Yugoslavia. Brazilian player Ademir didn’t wait long for the first goal to be scored. It took him 4 minutes after the kick-off. Zizinho scored the 2nd goal in the 2nd half. Brazil was kind off lucky though. Yugoslav player Rajko Mitic hurt his head badly since he hit a metal lid. This happened while walking up the stairs to the pitch for the kick-off. However, the referee refused to delay the match. Therefore Yugoslavia kicked off with 10 men and Ademir scored while Rajko Mitic was receiving treatment for 20 minutes. Due to this win, Brazil was now to play the infamous Final Round of the 1950 World Cup.

Pool 2

USA – England 1-0 (Miracle on Grass)
Estádio Independência, Belo Horizonte – attendance: 10,000

England finally participated in a World Cup. Since the football sport was invented in their country, many professional football players were established. England had a post war record win of 23 matches and 4 losses and have beaten strong teams such as Italy and Portugal before playing their first World Cup. Players from USA were amateurs and part time football players. They had a job aside playing football such as teaching or washing dishes. They were gathered quickly and have trained only once together. There was a 1-3 chance England would win the World Cup and for USA a 500-1 chance. But surprisingly, it was USA that won this legendary pool match. Against all odds it was American center forward Joe Gaetjens who scored the first and only goal of the match. The score of 1-0  is 1 of the greatest upset in World Cup history. Some British newspapers reported a score of 1-10 for England, since the editors thought the score of 1-0 against USA was a typing mistake made by the reporter. Although USA defeated England, it was Spain which advanced to the Final Round.

Pool 3

Sweden – Italy 3-2
Estádio do Pacaembu, São Paulo – attendance: 36,000

This is the first match Italy has lost in World Cup history. Italy didn’t participate in the first World Cup in 1930, and won both the 1934 and 1938 World Cups. A factor that highly contributed to this defeat was the Superga air disaster, which severely weakened the Italian team. It was Sweden which was the first country to defeat Italy. Hasse Jeppson (2x) and Sune Andersson were the goalscorers. Italian striker Riccardo Carapellese scored the first goal of the match and Ermes Muccinelli the last goal of the match. But this wasn’t enough. Sweden ended up advancing to the Final Round.

Pool 4

Uruguay – Bolivia 8-0
Estádio Independência, Belo Horizonte – attendance: 6,000

Since France withdrew, Both Uruguay and Bolivia had to play 1 match in the first round. Within 20 minutes it was already clear which team would advance to the Final Round. Bolivia  was crushed by Uruguay. 8 goals were scored in total. Striker Óscar Míguez scored a hat-trick. Other Uruguayan players who scored were Ernesto Vidal, Juan Alberto Schiaffino, Julio Pérez and Alcides Ghiggia. Bolivia didn’t make it to the 2nd round again as has happened in 1930. In their last World Cup participation so far in 1994, they would suffer the same fate.

Final Round

Brazil – Sweden 7-1
Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro – attendance: 139,000

This was 1 of the matches that showed why whole of Brazil showed so much confidence in the Brazilian team. Although Sweden was responsible for Italy’s first World Cup defeat in the first round, Brazil was determined to top the pool and win the World Cup with an impressive goal amount. Brazilian striker Ademir was playing determinedly and scored 4 goals in total. Players Chico scored 2 goals and Maneca 1 goal. Sune Andersson scored a penalty for Sweden. Brazil would win the next match against Spain with an impressive amount as well: 6-1. Ademir became the 1950 World Cup top scorer with 8 goals in total.

World Cup 1950 Final

Since France withdrew from the World Cup, Uruguay only had to play 1 match before entering the Final round with Brazil, Spain and Sweden. Brazil played 3 matches before entering the Final round and only drew against Switzerland with a 2-2 score.

This was the first time Uruguay and Brazil had to play against each other in a World Cup.

During the Final Round, it was obvious Brazil would be able to ‘easily’ win the World Cup. With a score of 7-1 they have beaten Sweden and with a score of 6-1 they have beaten Spain. Uruguay only won 1 match against Sweden with a 3-2 score and drew against Spain with a 1-1 score.

This meant that the final match was considered as a Final since the winner would gain the most points of the 4 countries (remember that the mini league format was implemented). And the country with the most points would win the 1950 World Cup!

You could practically count on 1 hand the people who actually thought Uruguay would stand a chance against the great Brazil in the last 1950 World Cup match. The press and the people already claimed Brazil as the 1950 World Cup winner days before the final match.

On the 16th of July 1950, in Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, the final match between Uruguay and Brazil would finally start. Before the match a carnaval was already organised and people were already celebrating in the streets. A record attendance of around 205.000 people was watching the match live in a fully packed Estádio do Maracanã. Obviously there was no emphasis on health and safety regulations.

During the match the celebrations continued non-stop. In the first half no goals were scored but Brazil was in the attack mode whereas Uruguay chose the defense mode. The 2nd half however, changed everything. Within 3 minutes after the 2nd half started, the first goal (47′) was scored by Brazilian Friaça. Brazil was expecting a goal and everybody thought it would only be a matter of time before Brazil would receive the World Cup trophy. However 19 minutes later, Uruguayan player Juan Alberto Schiaffino changed the match by changing the score into 1-1 (66′). Even with this 1-1 score Brazil would still win the World Cup! This means they only had to hang on till the end of the match.

What happened next is considered as 1 of the biggest World Cup upsets ever in history. Something that would be named in the future: Maracanazo (Maracanaço in Portuguese). Nobody was expecting what was about to happen in the 79th minute of the match. The fully packed Maracanã become completely silent with only laughter and screaming coming from the Uruguayan side. In the 79th minute Uruguayan player Alcides Ghiggia made the 3rd and final goal of the match, resulting in a final score of 2-1.

World Cup 1950 Final

Alcides Ghiggia silencing the Maracanã stadium: 2-1

This score shocked Brazil beyond comprehension. The nation became immensely traumatized by this defeat. The loss of the final match resulted in some ugly happenings. Few fans have committed suicide, sports journalists retired and newspapers refused the defeat. The Brazilian players were criticized immensely by the public. A few players entered retirement quietly and some never entered the Brazilian selection again such as keeper Barbosa. Brazil even changed its national uniform, which was from then on considered to be a jinx. The original uniform which was white with a blue neckline, changed to the now so famous yellow uniform with a green neckline.

World Cup 1950 Final

Goalkeeper Barbosa was blamed for the defeat, which hunted him till the day he died

Jules Rimet the FIFA president also expected for Brazil to win, so he practiced his speech in Portuguese. When the moment was there to handover the Jules Rimet trophy to Uruguayan player Varela, there was no ceremony speech. There were even 22 gold medals created with the names of the Brazilian players imprinted on them, but they had to be disposed of.

World Cup 1950 Final

Jules Rimet like everyone else, was not expecting to hand out the trophy to the Uruguayan team

This Final introduced the term Maracanazo. This term means a victory of the underdog in the Maracanã stadium against the Brazilian national team or 1 of the big four Rio de Janeiro football clubs (Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Fluminense, Botafogo).

Regarding Uruguay, it has been said that the following words stated by the Uruguayan team captain Valera contributed highly to the mind-set that was needed to win the final match:

“Muchachos, los de afuera son de palo. Que empiece la función” (Boys, outsiders don’t play. Let’s start the show).

Alcides Ghiggia who scored the 2-1 stated the following after the Final:

“Only three people have ever silenced 200,000 people at the Maracanã with a single gesture: Frank Sinatra, Pope John Paul II and I.”

World Cup 1950 Final

Alcides Ghiggia

This was the last time so far Uruguay played a World Cup Final. Brazil however would show the world many years later who is the world’s best.

The question many people and especially Brazilians now ask themselves: Will Brazil be able to get rid of the ghost of 1950 this year? Will they be finally able to have their revenge in the 2014 World Cup? Where the World Cup Final will be played in the Estádio do Maracanã once again?

World Cup 1950 Final

Uruguay = Blue (Coach: Juan López Fontana)
Brazil = White (Coach: Flávio Costa)

World Cup 1950 Records

  • First time England qualified for a World Cup
  • Uruguay is the 2nd country to win 2 World Cups
  • Only World Cup together with the 1930 World Cup which didn’t host a match for the third place
  • This World cup and the 1958 World Cup are the only tournaments where the host country made it to the Final, but failed to win
  • Uruguyuan Alcide Ghiggia is the 2nd player to have scored in each World Cup match including the Final
  • Only World Cup to have implemented the mini league format in the Final Round
  • Only World Cup where no knock-out matches were played
  • First World Cup where no players were sent off
  • Italy is the first country which didn’t make it to the 2nd round after having won the previous World Cup
  • 2nd World Cup where no extra-time matches have been played
  • The average attendance record of 61,000 per match was only beaten in the 1994 World Cup (69,000)
  • The highest attendance for a World Cup match was the Final between Brazil and Uruguay with around 205 000 attendees (no emphasis on health and safety), which will probably never be beaten
  • India is the only country which has qualified for a World Cup, but has never played any World Cup matches so far

Did You Know

  • No Asian or African country participated
  • United States would only qualify for their next World Cup in 1990
  • Bolivia would only qualify for their next World Cup in 1994
  • India have not had the chance so far since the 1950 World Cup to participate in another World Cup
  • First World Cup where the players’ jerseys featured back numbers, however no teams had fixed numbers for each player (that would only be mandatory from the next World Cup in 1954), so the players were ordered by name
  • The World Cup trophy was for the first time referred as the Jules Rimet Trophy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Rimet’s presidency of FIFA
  • Only 2 players (Erik Nilsson of Sweden and Alfred Bickel of Switzerland) played in a World Cup before (1938) and after (1950) World War II
  • First time Yugoslavia played as Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 
  • Superball Duplo T match ball was made by a local supplier in Brazil
  • Superball Duplo T match ball is the first ball which did not have any sewing with lace since it could be inflated  due to the inclusion of a valve
  • Superball Duplo T match ball is the last World Cup ball to contain 12 panels

World Cup 1950 FIFA Awards

  • Golden Ball: Zizinho (Brazil)
  • Silver Ball: Juan Schiaffino (Uruguay)
  • Bronze Ball: Ademir (Brazil)
  • Golden Boot: Ademir (Brazil) (8 goals)
  • Silver Boot: Óscar Míguez (Uruguay) (5 goals)
  • Bronze Boot: Alcides Ghiggia (Uruguay), Chico (Brazil), Estanislao Basora (Spain), Telmo Zarra (Spain) (4 goals)
World Cup 1950 FIFA Awards

Zizinho (Brazil)

World Cup 1950 FIFA Awards

Ademir (Brazil)

World Cup 1950 FIFA All-Star Team

Of the 11 players selected for the 1950 World Cup FIFA All-Star Team, 5 players are from Uruguay. Each position contains a Uruguayan player which also occurred in the 1930 FIFA All-Star Team. So far Uruguay is the only country where this has happened twice. Sweden is included for the first time in this All-Star Team.

Roque Máspoli (Uruguay)Erik Nilsson (Sweden)
José Parra (Spain)
Víctor Rodríguez Andrade (Uruguay)
Obdulio Varela (Uruguay)
Bauer (Brazil)
Alcides Ghiggia (Uruguay)
Jair (Brazil)
Zizinho (Brazil)
Ademir (Brazil)
Juan Alberto Schiaffino (Uruguay)

World Cup 1950 in Action

Short 1950 World Cup documentary

How the Brazilians felt before and after the Final

‘A national tragedy’ for football’s biggest crowd

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