March 17, 1901 – April 13, 1993
Much has changed from soccer's first World Cup in 1930. Back then, it was a fledgling tournament with just 13 teams playing 18 matches over a two-week span. Today, it's a truly global event, with 32 teams, 64 games, and a month full of soccer. And that's not even counting the two years it takes to qualify.
Today, the players are professionals with million-dollar contracts. Back then, they were amateurs. And one of those amateurs was Rudolf Wetzer.
Most European nations decided to stay home to avoid the grueling travel to Uruguay; Romania was one of just three to make the trip. Wetzer was a starting forward on that team. On July 14, 1930, he helped his country to a 3:1 win over Peru. In their next game, Romania crashed out to to the hosts and eventual winners.
What makes Wetzer's appearance special? He was the first Jew to play in the World Cup. He was also the only Jew to play in that inaugural tournament.
We wonder what someone like Wetzer would think of the game today... Well, one thing has stayed constant: be it 1930 or 2014, on soccer's biggest stage, there are not too many Jews...
June 12, 2014