The first King to pick his country’s World Cup squad

In 1930, the World Cup wasn’t a worldwide phenomenon, it was just FIFA’s idea for a new tournament. That made it a difficult sell, especially to Europeans who were being asked to travel overseas—by boat—to Uruguay. That’s where Carol II came in.

The King of Romania, Carol was a soccer-crazy King who wanted to make sure his team would play. He personally selected the team’s players and even issued a decree giving them all three months off from their jobs.

It should be noted, of course, that the soccer decree is one of the happier parts of his reign—later, he became a dictator before being thrown into exile in, appropriately, South America, where his beloved World Cup team made its debut.

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Did you know how hard it was for European teams to reach Uruguay?