When the first Men’s World Cup was held in 1930, thirteen teams competed. Uruguay won the title, winning all four matches and defeating Argentina in the final.
Since then, the Men’s World Cup has grown to become a massive, ungainly beast. 32 teams will take part at the 2018 tournament in Russia. In all, 77 teams have taken part in the twenty tournaments held to date, with two more set to make their débuts in Russia. The Men’s World Cup now takes more than four weeks to complete, and during those four weeks, the entire planet shuts down. Employees watching the matches instead of getting shit done cause billions of dollars in lost productivity, but FIFA takes in billions of dollars on television rights and other merchandising, so it all works out.
But what has happened to those thirteen original teams? Are they still playing football? Let us now find out as we ask: Whatever happened to the teams that participated in the first Men’s World Cup?
Uruguay won the 1930 Men’s World Cup with a 4-2 victory over Argentina in the final, but, miffed that so many European teams declined to take part, opted to skip the next two tournaments, held in Italy and France. When the Charrúas returned after the war, they won the 1950 tournament, their most recent title. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their thirteenth appearance.
Argentina reached the final in 1930 but lost to their Platense rivals Uruguay. They travelled to Italy in 1934, but declined to take part in the qualifiers for the next three tournaments. Since then, they have qualified every time except 1970, when Peru topped their group. However, the Albiceleste won two of the next four tournaments: when they hosted in 1978, and in Mexico in 1986. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their seventeenth appearance.
The United States reached the semifinals in 1930, where they lost to Argentina. They played in two of the next three tournaments, and in Brazil in 1950, they famously defeated England. But the Stars and Stripes would fail to qualify again for forty years, although the 1990 tournament started a string of seven successive appearances. The 1930 semifinal appearance was the US’s best result. They have made ten appearances in total but failed to qualify for Russia 2018.
Yugoslavia reached the semifinals in 1930, where they lost to eventual champions Uruguay. They failed to qualify for the next two tournaments, but made four successive appearances starting in 1950. Yugoslavia’s best results were their semifinal appearances in 1930 and 1962. They were excluded from the 1994 qualifiers due to the civil war. They currently exist as Serbia and have qualified for Russia 2018, their twelfth appearance including those under the names Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro, and Serbia.
Chile finished second in Group 1 in 1930. They did not take part in the qualifiers for the next two tournaments. Their best result was a third place finish when they hosted in 1962. La Roja were excluded from the 1994 qualifiers due to an incident in the previous qualifying tournament, when goalkeeper Roberto Rojas intentionally injured himself in hopes of stopping the match. They have never made more than two successive appearances. They have made nine appearances in total but failed to qualify for Russia 2018.
Brazil finished second in Group 2 in 1930. They made the trip to Europe for the 1934 and 1938 tournaments and hosted the first postwar tournament in 1950, ending in the infamous Maracanazo when, needing a draw to win the title, they lost to Uruguay on the final day. Eight years later, the Verdeamarelhos won their first championship, the first of five to date. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their twenty first appearance; they are the only team to have appeared at every Men’s World Cup.
France finished third in Group 1 in 1930. They competed in the other two 1930s tournaments, including a quarterfinal appearance when they hosted in 1938. Les Bleus hosted the tournament again sixty years later and won the title, their only championship to date. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their fifteenth appearance.
Romania finished second in Group 3 in 1930. They competed in the next two tournaments, but after that did not qualify again until 1970. The Tricolorii’s best result was a quarterfinal appearance in 1994. They have made seven appearances in total but failed to qualify for Russia 2018; their last appearance in a Men’s World Cup was 1998.
Paraguay finished second in Group 4 in 1930. They declined to travel to Europe for the next two tournaments, but competed in two of the three tournaments in the 1950s. The Guaraníes made four consecutive appearances starting in 1998, and made a run to the quarterfinals in 2010, their last appearance. They have made eight appearances in total but failed to qualify for Russia 2018.
Peru finished last in Group 3 in 1930. They withdrew from the qualifiers for the next four tournaments. The Incas competed in three of the four tournaments between 1970 and 1982. Their quarterfinal appearance in 1970 and their trip to the second group phase in 1978 remain their best performances to date. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their fifth appearance, and their first since 1982.
Belgium finished last in Group 4 in 1930. They competed in three of the next four tournaments. After that, the Red Devils took part in six consecutive tournaments starting in 1982, including a fourth place finish in 1986. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their thirteenth appearance.
Bolivia finished last in Group 2 in 1930. La Verde have competed only twice since: in Brazil in 1950, and in the United States in 1994, each time failing to escape the group phase. They have made three appearances in total but failed to qualify for Russia 2018.
Mexico finished last in Group 1 in 1930. They entered the qualifiers for the next tournament, but lost a playoff to the United States in Rome. El Tri have taken part in the majority of tournaments since then. They hosted the tournament twice, in 1970 and 1986, and their quarterfinal appearances in those tournaments remain their best performances to date. They have qualified for Russia 2018, their sixteenth appearance.
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