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Saturday, 22 August 2015

The World Cup's Lowest Ever Attendance - World Cup 1930

World Cup 1930 - Copa del Mundo 1930 - Cupa Mondială 1930 - Primer Campeonato Mundial de Futbol.

On 14th July 1930,  Romania and Peru took to the field of the Estadio Pocitos to play the first match in Group 3. It was the third match of the the tournament and the first match of the day as Brazil and Yugoslavia were scheduled to kick-off for later that afternoon at Parque Central. This match holds the distinction of the lowest ever attendance at a World Cup finals. However, there are discrepancies on the actual figure. One as low as 300 and the other 2,549.

The reasons for the low figure at the ten thousand capacity stadium may be due to the cold weather or perhaps the Uruguayan public were drawn to the more attractive tie of witnessing two time South American Champions (1919, 1922), Brazil, who hadn't played an official match since 1925, play Yugoslavia. Some twenty four thousand witnessed Yugoslavia's shock 2-1 victory.

Cris Freddi in his well-researched book, Complete Book of the World Cup (2002), believes the lowest figure to be correct and bases it on the photographs that exist of the match which ''make 300 look about right.'' A contemporary report from Brazil's A Noite (18 July 1930) gives a total of 2,549. Those who attended had a choice of four different ticket prices. The cheapest from $ 0.20 to $ 0.80 centésimos and the dearest, $ 1.50 to $ 2.00 pesos. The official match receipts given was a total income of $ 657.20 pesos. Photographs of the match show one side of the tribune dotted with a handful of spectators while no images of the small main grandstand are available. It appears that most of the photographers took up position on one side of the pitch and therefore its impossible to know if the main grandstand was occupied. Behind one of the goals, where it was standing room only, is where many of the locals appeared to take the option of the cheapest tickets. Even if you assumed that everyone brought the most expensive ticket (two pesos), dividing the total income with that number would equate to 328 fans. On the other hand, dividing the income ($ 657.20 pesos) by the bigger figure of 2,549 fans suggest each spectator spent an average of $ 0.25 centésimos for a ticket.

It is possible that 2,549 tickets for the match were sold but that not everyone turned up. The organizers also had problems with ticket touts/scalpers buying up the tickets and selling them at extortionate prices.

Whatever the real total it still holds the record of the lowest attendance at a World Cup match.

Below are links to images of the match as well as the official FIFA match report.

The link to the photograph below is not from the match but shows the main grandstand of the Estadio Pocitos.

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