Sometimes the game is beautiful. Other times it’s so controversial that it triggers a complete change of the game, or a dismantling of a team. The upside is that change is normally good, even if it is surrounded by drama and frustration.
Let’s take a look at football games that were particularly controversial.
West Germany Versus Austria
Our first controversial game took place during the opening round of the 1982 World Cup. West Germany was due to go head to head with Austria, which should have been an exciting affair. Alas it turned out to be a complete and total disaster. The match is now commonly referred to as the Disgrace Of Gijón.
The problem was that the previous games for the round had all already been played, and the results known. Hence, West Germany and Austria both knew that they could qualify. Assuming that West Germany simply won by a single goal. Assumptions were that Austria would fight to eliminate their long-time rivals, but that’s not what happened.
West Germany nailed a single goal in the first 10 minutes, after which both teams more or less just rode out the clock. Both teams qualified and Algeria was eliminated instead. Fans were outraged and FIFA changed the way the World Cup operated to counter the obvious problem. Had it been available at the time fans would likely have stayed home and played Bingo online for money instead.
Barbados Versus Grenada
If the last match on our list was a mess, this match in 1994 is a complete disaster. Barbados and Grenada were going head to head for the Caribbean Cup qualification. Only, once again poorly thought out rules resulted in a catastrophe. The Golden Goal rule was intended to avoid matches ending in a stalemate. If the match went to extra time a single goal would make the scoring team winners. Additionally, for reasons completely unknown, the goal would also count as 2.
Firstly, Barbados scored an own goal on purpose. The team was down 1, but knew that if the game went to extra time they could get a Golden Goal. This would give them 2 points; enough to make them qualifiers. On the other hand, after Barbados’s own goal, Grenada wanted the exact opposite. In Grenada’s case an own goal or a real goal would save them.
For a few minutes the home team field erupted into chaos as Grenada attempted to score on both sides. Naturally, the Golden Goal rule was removed.
Ireland Versus France
Last, we have the heart-breaking match between Ireland and France in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. The match came down to a single moment that caused international fan fury. Each side managed a goal during normal time, resulting in the dreaded extra time. During the last minute scuffles Thierry Henry did the unthinkable. He handballed twice, yet passed it and sealed Ireland’s fate.
The referee saw nothing. It wasn’t long after that FIFA implemented the Video Assistant Referee and football joined other sports that rely on tech for final calls.