May 25 - June 09
Olympic Football Tournament Paris 1924
The Olympic Football Tournament became more than just an eastern hemisphere competition when a South American side made a memorable debut - the marvellously talented and skilful Uruguay.
International football would never be the same, for the very best of reasons. Uruguay, an unknown quantity internationally, quickly turned into the sensation of the tournament, rolling over Yugoslavia in their first game, 7-0, as the always dangerous Pedro Cea and Pedro Petrone connected for two goals apiece.
Legendary midfielder Jose Leandro Andrade, the first player nicknamed the Black Pearl (the incomparable Pele was the second), masterminded the attack. He used his superior playmaking skills to propel the Uruguayans into the final against Switzerland with victories over the United States, 3-0 (behind two goals from Petrone and one from Scarone), France, 5-1, and the Netherlands in the semi-finals, 2-1. Getting there was half the fun.
After losing in the semi-finals, the Netherlands protested the ruling of a penalty kick that turned out to be the winning goal. The Dutch lost that round, but then Uruguay protested against the Olympic Committee's selection of a Dutch referee for the final. To appease the South Americans, the committee pulled the name of a final referee out of a hat and picked out a Frenchman, Marcel Slawick.
In the other semi-final, Switzerland turned back Sweden, 2-1, with two goals by Max Abegglen, but was almost knocked out of the competition over a lack of finances. The Swiss train ticket was valid only ten days and their money had run out. An appeal by a newspaper, 'Sport', brought in the needed funds. But the money could not buy happiness or a title, as the fabulous Uruguayans took a 1-0 half-time lead and rolled to a 3-0 triumph and the gold medal in front of 40,522 fans in the Colombes Stadium, while another 10,000 were turned away. Petrone scored in the first half and Cea and Angel Romano in the final 45 minutes. Sweden needed a replay of their third-place match to earn the bronze medal. After playing to a 1-1 draw with the Dutch, the Swedes recorded a 3-1 triumph, built on Sven Rydell's two goals.