Brazil was selected to host the competition but because of a general lack of interest to participate, they deferred it for another year. The 1950 FIFA World Cup TM was held in Brazil but a number of teams were either banned or refused to participate in the qualifying tournament, including the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia , and Hungary. Neither Germany nor Japan were permitted to participate in qualification. The Superga air disaster one year before the start of the tournament left the Torino team (almost all of the Italy national football team) severely compromised. The defending champions were eventually persuaded to attend. Austria and Belgium withdrew from the qualification tournament which meant Switzerland and Turkey qualified without having to play their final round of matches. Due to financial problems Turkey withdrew and FIFA invited Portugal, Ireland and France, who had been eliminated in qualifying rounds. Portugal and Ireland refused, but France accepted. When Finland withdrew before qualification was complete, FIFA declared their matches as friendlies.
The British nations were invited to take part, having rejoined FIFA. It was decided to use the 1949–50 British Home Championship as a qualifying group, with the top two teams qualifying. England finished first and Scotland second. George Graham, chairman of the Scottish Football Association (SFA), vowed Scotland would only attend as winners of the Home Championship, and refuse to change his position and Scotland withdrew from the tournament. Argentina, Ecuador and Peru withdrew after the qualifying draw, and Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay qualified by default. In Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Burma all withdrew, leaving India to qualify by default. Brazil (the host country) and Italy (the defending champion) qualified automatically, leaving 14 places remaining, of these, seven were allocated to Europe (England, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Yugoslavia) , six to the Americas (Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, United States, and Uruguay) and one to Asia (India) . However, only 13 teams participated after India, Turkey and Scotland withdrew.
The fifteen teams were allotted into four groups (or pools). Three groups of 4 and one group of three) but when the Indian football association decided against going to the World Cup, due to travel costs, and France withdrew there was insufficient time to invite replacement teams or to reorganise the existing groups. The competition proceeded with thirteen teams. Group 3 had three teams (Sweden, Italy and Paraguay) and Group 4, two (Uruguay and Bolivia). A first group stage, followed by a final group stage with 4 teams (group winners); this is the only tournament without an official final match The new pool format allowed more games to be played than at previous World Cups. Teams were awarded 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. The final group stage involved the teams who won their groups. The two rounds of the group format guaranteed thirty games, which gave each team more opportunity as well as a bigger financial return at the gate. FIFA were initially reluctant but eventually accepted the new proposals.
Six city venues within Brazil hosted the tournament matches. These were: Rio de Janeiro (the then capital) -Estádio do Maracanã, São Paulo - Estádio do Pacaembu , Belo Horizonte - Estádio Sete de Setembro, Curitiba - Estádio Durival de Britto, Porto Alegre - Estádio dos Eucaliptos, Recife - Estádio Ilha do Retiro). The newly built Maracanã hosted eight matches, including all but one of the host's games. The Pacaembu stadium in São Paulo hosted six matches’ . The Estádio Sete de Setembro in Belo Horizonte hosted three matches, the Durival de Britto stadium in Curitiba and the Eucaliptos stadium in Porto Alegre each hosted two matches, and the Ilha do Retiro stadium in Recife only hosted one match. Overall the average attendance per game at the smaller venues was 37, 500 but this figure doubled at the bigger stadium. One major drawback to the new format was many teams had vast distances to travel to each fixture in the first round as the games were hosted in different cities. The final group's six matches were shared between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Brazil played all its final group matches at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio.
The first match was between Brazil and Mexico and was played in front of 81,000 fans at the new Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. The host country beat Mexico, 4-0. The total number goals scored in the competition was 88 (an average of 4 per match) and there were no penalties but three hat tricks netted, Atilio Cremaschi (Chile), Omer Miguez (Uruguay) and the top goal scorer of the competition, Ademir Marques de Menezes (Brazil). His total tally was 8 goals, although this figure is often disputed.
In the final match in Group 1 between Switzerland and Mexico both teams arrived with only their red kits. Mexico agree to allow the Swiss to play in their national kit and meantime borrowed shirts from Esporte Clube Cruzeiro from Porto Alegre. The score was. 2-1 for Switzerland.
In the deciding match of the four-team final group, Brazil the favourites, only had to draw to lift the trophy but were beaten 2 -1, by Uruguay before a huge home crowd of 199,954 (some estimated as 205,000) in the Estádio do Maracanã. Uruguay were crowned World Cup champions for a second time.