The World Cup: 1930-38
The idea of the footballing nations playing in a World Championship was first suggested at the first meeting of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in Paris in 1904. However, it was not until a 1928 FIFA meeting that it was decided to establish the World Cup. The trophy was named after the FIFA president Jules Rimet.
The FIFA controversially decided to hold the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. This meant a long and costly journey for European nations and at first they all rejected the invitation to take part. Jules Rimet eventually persuaded teams from Belgium, France, Romania, and Yugoslavia to participate. They were joined by seven from South America and two from North America. Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 in the final.
In 1934 the World Cup tournament was held in Italy. Once again the Football Association refused to take part. So also did the World Cup holders Uruguay, who had been upset by so few European nations playing in their country in 1930. A total of 32 nations entered the competition, and after qualification, 16 teams participated in the finals tournament. Italy beat Czechoslovakia in the final, 2-1.
France was chosen as hosts for the 1938 competition. Uruguay and Argentina refused to enter the competition as it was the second tournament in a row to be played in Europe. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continued to boycott the competition. Spain was forced to withdraw because of the Spanish Civil War. Sixteen countries were due to take part but the competition lost another country when Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the leader of the Austrian Nazi Party, invited the German Army to occupy Austria and proclaimed union with Germany on 13th March, 1938. Italy retained the championship, beating Hungary 4-2 in the final.