Brazil's 1950 World Cup revisited

  • Cover of a souvenir brochure produced to celebrate Uruguay's 1950 World Cup success, as they defeated Brazil  2-1 in the Final played in Rio's Maracana Stadium.
  • Sunbathers relaxing on the beach at Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s.
  • A group of workers plays soccer on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 1950.
  • England captain Billy Wright leads his team out onto the field during the World Cup Finals in Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 25, 1950.
  • England's team poses as a huge group of photographers takes pictures in the Maracana Stadium during the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
  • Aerial view of the gigantic Maracana Stadium still under construction for the 1950 World Cup finals in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Crowds storm barriers and force their way into the unfinished Maracana stadium via the back of the stands to watch the opening game of the tournament, June 24, 1950. The crowd trouble was due to the official entrances not being ready.
  • Local Brazilian girls watch the England team training prior to the team's opening match against Chile.
  • The international referees who took part in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil are shown consulting a game diagram.
  • A view over Rio towards Sugarloaf Mountain, which is situated on a peninsula in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, circa 1950.
  • Commuters hang onto the outside of a trolley-bus in Rio de Janeiro circa 1950.
  • The busy main business street in Belem, Brazil, circa 1950.
  • English players in the dressing room during the 1950 World Cup Finals in Rio De Janeiro.
  • A plane is refuelled by a Shell gasoline truck in Brazil, circa 1950.
  • Lucy Pereira, a 16-year-old shopgirl from Rio de Janeiro, watches the waves at Ipanema Beach with her boyfriend.
  • Downtown Rio de Janeiro circa 1950.
  • A cable car on the way toward Sugarloaf Mountain, which is situated on a peninsula in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, circa 1950.
  • A view across the Praca Maua in the business district of Sao Paulo, Brazil, circa 1955.
  • A view of the business district of Sao Paulo, seen from Rodrigues Alves Gardens, Brazil, circa 1955.
  • Brazil's team during the 1950 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, June 26, 1950.
  • Brazilian forward Ademir is challenged by Uruguay defender Rodriguez Andrade but still shoots toward the goal, past Matias Gonzalez, with Schubert Gambetta looking on. This attempt went wide, and Ademir failed to add to his leading goalscorer tally of nine goals in the tournament. This photo was taken on July 16, 1950.
  • England's Stan Mortensen scores his side's first goal with a header after a cross from Mullen in England's first ever World Cup match in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, June 25, 1950.
  • Uruguay's Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia, who scored the goal that won the 1950 World Cup.
  • Wilf Mannion scores England's second goal past Chilean goalkeeper Sergei Livingstone, June 25, 1950.
  • Uruguay's Ghiggia scores during the World Cup Final, July 16, 1950.
  • Uruguay's Ghiggia scores the winning goal past the dive of Brazilian goakeeper Barbosa to win the 1950 World Cup.
  • Chaotic scenes at the final whistle, with Uruguay defender Schubert Gambetta forcing his way through a crowd of photographers and journalists as he leaves the field after this historic match. Uruguay upset predictions of an easy victory for Brazil by winning this final match of the tournament 2-1 with goals from Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia, in front of an estimated attendance of 200,000 disbelieving Brazilians.
  • Obdulio Varela, the Uruguay World Cup winning captain of 1950, receives the trophy from Jules Rimet. Following the defeat, superstitious Brazilians decided to change their white shirts trimmed with blue, to the now familiar yellow and green.
  • Uruguay's World Cup-winning team: back row (l-r): Obdulio Varela (captain), Juan Lopez (coach), Tejera, Vazquez (trainer), Abate (trainer), Gambetta, Gonzalez, Roque Maspoli, Andrade, Kirshberg (Masseur), Front row, l-r, Alvarez (trainer), Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia, Perez, Miguez, Juan Alberto Schiaffino, Moran and Figoli (trainer).



Bookies are expecting host country Brazil to win the World Cup, which starts Thursday and ends July 13 in the Maracanã Stadium in the heart of Rio. But the last time the Maracanã was the site of soccer’s biggest game, things didn’t go according to plan for the home team.

It was 1950, and all of Brazil expected the revered Seleçao to hoist the trophy for the first time. Almost 200,000 paying customers flooded the newly built Maracanã—then the world’s largest stadium—to watch the final. But late in the game, with the score tied 1-1, Uruguay’s Alcides Ghiggia upended the script by striking the goal. The defeat, known as the Maracanaço—“the Maracanã blow,” more or less— is considered a genuine national tragedy. “It was the first time I saw my father cry,” Pelé, 9 years old at the time, said recently.

But until then, the tournament was a source of largely unalloyed joy, both for its hosts and for the world. Thanks to the war, it was the first World Cup for 12 years, and it took place against a backdrop of sun, sand, and spectacular scenery. These vintage photos of the action—both on and off the field—from the 1950 tournament, will whet your appetite for this month’s festival of football, and remind you, if you’d forgotten, why soccer really is ”the beautiful game.”