A few years ago, while in Montevideo, I bought a book that was made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Uruguayan Football Association: “100 Años de Gloria: La Verdadera history del Futbol Uruguayo”/ “100 Years of Glory: The True History of Uruguayan Football”. The book itself has a wonderful collection of inside stories that narrate the history of club and international football played in Uruguay. Furthermore, it had been officially consented to by FIFA itself. This book contains a section that explores Uruguay’s standing as a 4x FIFA World Champion.
The main author of the book (Atilio Garrido) mentions the issue of some international fans forgetting this fact in his closing statement : “…we rescued, with official and convincing documents, something that until 1950 was accepted worldwide and that, little by little, started to fall into disuse. We Uruguayans are a bit at fault for not committing to spreading our feats and victories. Uruguay was the first nation to conquer four times the football World Championship organized by FIFA.” (Pg 269)
This issue has always meant a lot to me, especially when it’s contested by fans who just don’t know better. It shouldn’t be contested because it’s a fact. Two World Championships are not something that you easily let go of. Their importance is amplified by the fact that they are officially FIFA’s first authentic international tournaments played by the best professionals on earth (under the guise of “amateurs”), changing the world of football forever. These were massive tournaments. It’s even better for me because the team that I love the most was at the heart of this innovation.
I have uploaded (so you can verify it in PDF format) the two documents from this book that explore Uruguay’s standing as a four time FIFA World Champion. The first (Document 1.1 and 1.2) recounts the history these tournaments and provides official FIFA citations to support their claims. The second is an Official FIFA document from their 80th Anniversary Book (1984, available in many languages). This document further cements FIFA’s recognition that the 1924 and 1928 Olympic tournaments were and are equivalent to FIFA World Cup titles. I will be providing a brief (point form) summary and translation of each document while using some external sources. Any citation from the “100 Years of Glory” book. will be noted.
The History: Why not 1920 or the tournaments before?:
- (From the book): In 1914 Jules Rimet (the third President of FIFA), declared that (quote): “Under the condition that the Olympic Football tournament be organized in agreement with FIFA rules, this competition will be recognized as a FIFA World Championship.”
- There was an attempt to have the first proper intercontinental tournament in 1920, but its authenticity was hurt by the fact that only amateur players could participate. At the time, professional footballers were the best players in the world.
- The 1920 Olympic Football final was never played when the Czechoslovakian team abandoned the field in protest during the first half vs. Belgium.
Colombes 1924: FIFA is finally responsible for organizing the entire tournament and finds a loophole
- From FIFA.com: “At the 1924 Congress, FIFA agreed to assume responsibility for the organization of the Olympic Football Tournament by ratifying the proposal that “on condition that the Olympic Football Tournament takes place in accordance with the Regulations of FIFA, the latter shall recognize this as a world football championship”. …”The South Americans (Uruguay in 1924) won 3-0 and were celebrated as World Champions in Montevideo.”
Citation: Document from FIFA.com
- In 1924, the start of FIFA’s Professional Era, FIFA found a “loophole” in the rules in order to finally allow the best teams and professionals to participate. The players could play and technically be considered “amateurs” by the International Olympic Committee so long as their own county’s Football Association compensated them for the months of lost work. The majority of the world’s best teams accepted, giving birth to, at the time, the first authentic FIFA World football Championship ever played by the best players on the planet.
- (From the book): “…In the “Official History of FIFA” published on their 80th anniversary in 1984,…On page 59, it is stated that “they (FIFA) elaborated on their founding statutes”, confirming that the 1924 and 1928 Olympic champions were to also be considered joint FIFA World Champions.
The aftermath of Amsterdam 1928
- (From the book): The article mentions that the following revisions to the FIFA Constitution stated that after the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay, no Olympic title was to be considered a World Championship anymore. This was proposed by FIFA President Jules Rimet himself.
- (From the book): Football was not played during the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics because of the birth of the FIFA World Cup. Olympic football champions would no longer be considered FIFA World Champions. Football was allowed to return in the 1936 Olympics but it was to be organized by the IOC and supervised by FIFA.
- (From the book): Immediately after the 1950 FIFA World Cup (in Brazil) FIFA held several meetings to revise their constitution. In the 1950 revision, it was stated that they recognized Uruguay as the first nation to ever become four Time FIFA World Champions.
*** 1950 World Cup Final: Between 5:48-5:54, Carlos Sole (Uruguay’s legendary football announcer) states “Uruguay, Champions for the 4th time”. It’s important to understand that this was not thrown in liberally. This was common knowledge because FIFA had made this clear from the outset.
Note: The Brazilian broadcast of the 1950 World Cup final also claims that Uruguay “have done it for the fourth time”. I know 100% that I have heard this but have been unable to find the link as of yet
So there you have it: Uruguay are four time FIFA World Champions.
I hope you enjoyed this story, and please direct anyone who says “prove it” to this article on La Celeste Blog. These stories are the reason I watch football and why I love La Celeste so much. If you ever wondered why the 2012 Olympic tournament is so important to fans of Uruguayan football, I hope this article helped. In a way it was the true birth of the Sky Blue mystique on a worldwide level. Thank you all and we only have a little under a month to go!
Citation: -100 Años de Gloria: La Verdadera Historia del Futbol Uruguayo, El Pais S.A. y Tenfield S.A., Printed in Anselmo L. Morvillo S.A., ARGENTINA.
Written by: Alvaro Perez