Thomas Balvay

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Thomas Balvay (2 February 1888 – 15 July 1945)[1] was a football referee in the 1920s and 1930s and one of four European referees who participated in the first FIFA World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay. He was the only match official from France at the tournament.


He had been an international referee since 1922[2] and twice refereed the Coupe de France (in 1926 and 1928).[3]

He travelled to Uruguay on the SS Conte Verde, which also took Jules Rimet and the French, Belgian, Romanian and Brazilian teams to the first World Cup; picking up the teams en route from Genoa to Rio de Janeiro before disembarking at Montevideo harbour.[4][5]

Confusion over nationality and name[edit]

Cris Freddi, an English football historian, has stated that Balvay may have been an Englishman living in Paris during the 1920s and, as such, he would be one of the first Englishmen to have participated in a FIFA World Cup.[6] Freddi writes: "Balway is believed to have been an Englishman living in Paris. The French FA website calls him Georges Balvay, but this is apparently an error (contemporary French sources spell it Balway (including Le Figaro 7 May 1928, after the French Cup Final) and several sources call him John".[7]

This has been used by others to underline that he was indeed an Englishman who lived and worked in Paris in the 1920s.[8]

There is also dispute as to the correct spelling of his name.[9][10][11] The French Football Federation record his name as both Georges Balvay and Thomas Balvay.[3] FIFA indicates that his name was John Balway. A 1923 edition of El Mundo Deportivo (Barcelona) spells it Balvey, but ten other editions of the same paper call him Balway.[12]


  1. ^ John Balway :: Einsätze
  2. ^ Select matches in Spain
  3. ^ a b Referees of the French Cup Finals - Official website of the French Football Federation
  4. ^ FIFA World Cup 1930 - Official FIFA World Cup web site
  5. ^ World Cup History - 1930, Uruguay
  6. ^ English-born George Moorhouse played for the United States in the same competition
  7. ^ ['Complete Book of the WC 2002, reprinted 2006]
  8. ^ BBC - h2g2 - The Finals of the 1930 World Cup at
  9. ^ Resultados 30 at
  10. ^ Football VM statistikk at
  11. ^ Translated version of at
  12. ^ FIFA World Cup 1930 - Official FIFA World Cup web site