Posted: 6/29/2007


    Twenty five years ago this week, 25th June to be exact, I witnessed the most scandalous match in the history of the FIFA WORLD CUP. I was in the El Molinon Stadium in Gijon, Spain as West Germany and Austria played out a 1-0 result in the third and final group match, knowing that if the match ended that way, then both would advance at the expense of Algeria.

    In the opening group match Algeria had defeated the West Germans 2-1 and later West Germany beat Chile 4-1. After 10 minutes Horst Hrubesch  -Das Kopfall-Ungeheuer(the Header Beast) scored, and the 2 teams played out the next 80 minutes without enthusiasm. My friend Bob Valentine of Dundee, Scotland was the referee, but he was powerless to prevent this charade.  I walked out of the press area to where the waiting West German bus was parked as fans waved D marks at the players and officials and things were thrown by the angry mob.

   The coach that day was Jupp Derwall, who at the age of 80, died this same anniversary day. Although he won the 1980 European Championships and was runner up in the World Cup of 1982 he was always overshadowed by his predecessors, Helmut Schoen, a fellow native of Saarland, who won the World Cup in 1974 in Munich's Olympiastadion, and the legendary Sepp Herberger, coach at the Miracle of Bern in the 3-2 come from behind 1954 World Cup triumph over Hungary in Switzerland.  

    Two weeks after Gijon there was another Day of Shame in Seville, when goalkeeper Harald Schumacher plowed into the advancing French striker Patrick Battison and almost killed him. The German wasn't even shown a yellow card. Eventually West Germany won a penalty shoot-out over the French team, 5-4,which  was one of the most talented I have ever seen play;Maxime Bossis, Michel Platini, Alan Giresse, Dominique Rocheteau, Bernard Lacombe, Didier Six, Jean Tigana, Marius Tressor...... and coached by Michel Hidalgo.  THe referee at that semi-final was the controversial  Charles Coerver of the Netherlands.  Nobody was sad when a few days later in Madrid, Italy beat West Germany to win their 3rd World Cup 3-1.  Derwall had been a player with Fortuna Dusseldorf and had lost 4 German Cup Finals with the team, and later lost twice in the final as a club coach.

My blog  a few days ago: THE FOODTASTER OF MELLRICHSTADT for some reason did not go out, so look at to read it, about soccer in a small town in Germany...