Even though Uruguay has a smaller population than its South American neighbors, when it comes to the sport of football, Uruguay is one of the world’s leading nations. CCTV correspondent, Joel Richards sits down with Alcides Ghiggia, the last surviving player from the 1950 Uruguayan team, to remember the game that dealt the biggest blow in World Cup history.
The country’s longest and most legendary rivalry is between its Peñarol and Nacional teams. Not only do they dominate Uruguayan football, but they have a history of often producing players for the National Team.
Between the two teams, they have accomplished much and won 66 league titles, South American championships and World Cup championships.
While there have been problems off the field over the years which have attracted unwanted headlines, such as supporters clashing with police at matches and also a suspension of the league, in recent years, when it comes to the national team, it has been a different story.
With a talented generation of players, and the skillful guidance of Coach Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay reached the 2010 World Cup semifinals and was the South American champion in 2011. “I define football culture as those that have a population for whom their national team is part of the national identity.”
One of the biggest World Cup upsets dates back to 1950. Uruguay’s team was in an “against-all-odds” situation during the 1950 match against Brazil. The Brazil team was so favored to win, even the President of FIFA wrote a speech claiming Brazil as the champions.
However in a surprise twist at the end of the game, Uruguay turned the tables, achieved victory and took home the championship title. The president of FIFA didn’t know what to do. He delivered the cup to the Uruguayan captain, where neither a ceremony was held nor an anthem played.
The 1950 victory is still celebrated today in Uruguay. And mourned in Brazil.