Uruguay beat out all competitors in this first World Cup, defeating Peru, 1 to 0, Romania, 4 to 0, Yugoslavia in the semi-final match, 6 to 1, and defeating Argentina in the final game, 4 to 2. With a population of just 3.5 million, Uruguay remains one of the smallest countries to participate in the games and by far the smallest to win. Winning the World Cup more than once is a distinction held by only five countries. Only Brazil has won five times.
Uruguay has not hosted the World Cup again but won again in 1950, beating Brazil, 2 to 1, an unexpected victory that stunned Uruguayans and Brazilians alike, though Brazil had not yet had its first World Cup win. It was an ignominious defeat for Brazil on its own soil in Rio de Janeiro’s brand new Maracana Stadium before a beyond-capacity crowd, the largest audience ever to watch a World Cup final match before or since. The event came to be known as the maracanazo, a term that has found its way into soccer vernacular, meaning a shocking upset by an underdog.
In 2010 neither Brazil nor Uruguay made it to the final match. Uruguay came closest, losing out to Germany for fourth place, and Uruguay’s star striker, Diego Forlan, was awarded the World Cup’s Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. Uruguay will have to be content with these laurels until its next try in 2014 when Brazil hosts its second World Cup. If Uruguay and Brazil are again paired, with a worldwide TV audience and visitors on Brazil tours watching, perhaps Brazil will have the opportunity to erase the embarrassing page from its sports history. Or this time maybe what fans who travel to Brazil from throughout the world will witness is another maracanazo by its tiny neighbor.
Southern Explorations offers Brazil tours and Uruguay tours as well as special interest tour extensions for those who wish to taste wine, learn about Uruguay’s history and culture, or hit the beach.