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Monday, 13 February 2017

A Very Brief Review of the German Press Coverage of the 1930 World Cup

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This is a very brief review of some of the newspaper coverage in the German press of the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. It does not represent the entirety of the coverage in that country and all references are from secondary sources published online in the last ten or fifteen years. Some of the references are from a site that is no longer available online and unfortunately, I do not have the original German text, only an English translation (via google). 

The German football magazine Kicker did not feel necessary to send a correspondent to Uruguay in July 1930. The vast distance and the almost three-month trip was a costly adventure and there was no real vested interest since their own country had decided not to participate. Instead, according to RP Online, it had decided to employ the Belgian referee, John Langenus and the Hungarian, Moricz Fischer, the FIFA vice president, as ''rapporteurs''.

The written match reports were dispatched via mail on board ships sailing to Europe and reaching their destination a couple of weeks later. Reports of the first round matches were first published in Kicker on the 29th July 1930, a day before the World Cup Final.

The few lines on the World Cup Final could be read on the 26th August, some twenty-seven days after. Their own correspondent, John Langenus, refereed that match. The Belgian referee received some severe criticism in the Argentinian press for his performance. It should, therefore, be no surprise that his description of the Final contained no criticism of his own handling of the match.

According to an article on, which is no longer available online, ''the renowned Fußball Woche, wrote briefly and contemptuously of the 'Tale of the World Cup'. The Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten, later known as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, told in advance about the upcoming finale but did not think worthy of printing the result. In Britain, the most important newspaper, The Times, didn't even give it a single mention.''

Readers of Fußball Woche were informed in advance what to expect of the World Cup Final. ''One can predict with certainty'', wrote the Berlin publication, ''that there has been the usual, perfectly balanced struggle between Uruguay and Argentina, in front of approximately 100,000 passionate spectators shattering with tension, either 1-0 or 2-1 expected for one of the parties or even undecided.''

Unfortunately, racist stereotypes were common during this period. ''With the runners'', wrote F. Richter in the journal Fußball, ''represented a genuine negro named Andrade, the exotic touch of colour. The long time Andrade falls on his head through his favourite game. The blacks seem to have skulls like coconuts.''

Our last reference comes once more from Fußball Wochemore commonly known as FUWO, when it informed its impatient readers on the 15th September 1930, ''We can now continue our original coverage only because the steamship connection of South America in August was so bad that for weeks no letter could be expedited.''

Without examining the original publications any conclusions should be drawn tentatively. The delayed coverage in Kicker is one area of criticism, especially when one considers that other European newspapers published match reports the day after the event via cablegrams from news agencies such as Associated Press and United Press. It begs the question on whether the magazine provided funds to its two correspondents to send despatches via telegraphy. However, the German journal should be given credit for it was willing to employ eyewitnesses to the event.

In the other examples, there appears to be negative coverage on the one hand and apathy on the other. The errors in their assumptions and the racist language suggest that further research is needed to determine whether certain patterns can be inferred.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Uruguay ahoy! (An article in FIFA Weekly)

One of the objectives of this blog is to provide links to online resources for further reading. Rarely, if ever, do I comment on the content of a book or a magazine. Nor do I necessarily agree with the content published therein. But with this article in a FIFA publication, I think it only right to point out some obvious mistakes. 

Firstly, the author states that the French, Romanian and Belgian delegations boarded the Conte Verde together in Genoa, Italy. It was only the Romanians that boarded in Genoa, picking up the French in Villefranche-sur-mer and then the Belgians in Barcelona. (For further info see: 

The Road to the First World Cup by Joe Faerstein.)

Secondly, it describes Pedro Cea, the forward that scored Uruguay's equaliser in the final, as the 'home captain'. This is untrue, the honour of captain belonged to the legendary defender Jose Nasazzi.

And lastly, it's description of Uruguay's third goal, by Iriarte, is fundamentally incorrect, stating that he ''wormed his way into the box before applying a 12-yard finish''. In fact, Iriarte picked the ball up in midfield, from the inside-left position, and after a short dribble, struck a right-footed shot roughly from 25 to 30 yards that flew into the top left-hand corner of Botasso's goal. Arguably, it was one of the best goals ever scored in a World Cup Final.

FIFA Weekly Issue #3, November 8, 2013
English edition
Édition française
Edición española
Deutsche Ausgabe