The Early Days of (1904-1938)
On 21st of May 1904, representatives from seven European soccer associations (France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) met in Paris and organized a governing body for the sport, called the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
At the second Congress in June of 1905, there was already discussion about an international competition to take place in 1906. A number of organizational, financial and logistical problems (World War I) delayed this for over two decades.
Since 1900, the Olympics included a soccer tournament whose winners were considered world champions. By the 1920s, however, professional leagues had evolved so that the Olympic Games, then restricted to amateur athletes, no longer represented the highest level of competition in the world. In 1930 the first World Cup tournament was held in Uruguay. It was won by the host nation with a victory over Argentina in the final. Going to South America from Europe took nearly a month of sea travel so many nations from the old continent cancelled. Despite being shunned by many strong European teams, the tournament was a financial success and excited international interest.
By this time, the major European countries had become interested, except for the British Isles. England, Scotland, and Wales, which field separate national soccer teams, refused to take part in the first three World Cup tournaments. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's fascist regime gained popularity by hosting the 1934 tournament in Italy (and winning it). The World Cup proved so popular that 36 nations entered the 1938 tournament, and preliminary elimination games had to be played in order to determine the 16 finalists. France hosted the 1938 tournament, and Italy repeated as champion.