Twenty years ago on June 24th,1989 and Saudi Arabia lifted the FIFA U16 World Cup at Hampden Park, Glasgow, 'winning' on penalty kicks 5-4 after a 2-2 tie after extra time. 56,000 fans watched the contest and saw Scotland go 2-0 up with goals from Ian Downie and Paul Dickov but the Saudis later equalized. The day was the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 when Robert the Bruce had defeated the English forces.
THEY CHEATED !!. A young Craig Brown was the coach of the Scots, later to coach the full Scottish national team, and General Secretary Ernie Walker a distinguished FIFA inspector is still fuming at the disgrace, 20 years on. FIFA and Bayern Munchen former coach Dettmar Cramer coached Al Ittihad of Jeddah from 1978-1981 and he had a player on that professional team that played for the U16's 10 years later !.The Saudi goalkeeper was a member of the Saudi Royal Guard and had 3 children, and he wasn't the only one with a false passport.
When it came time a couple of years later for the Saudi Arabia to enter a team in the FIFA U20 World Cup, they were told there would be an investigation into birth dates, and so they promply withdrew their entry!
Brazil v Chile in a World Cup South American elimination match the previous year at the Marcana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The Chileans were anxious to get the match abandoned and replayed at a neutral venue, but were losing 1-0 and would be eliminated. Their opportunity came when a girl Rosemary de Mello threw a fire cracker into the penalty area in the 70th minute and Chilean goalkeeper, Roberto Rojas with 49 caps, went down in agony with blood flowing from his head. The match was abandoned by the referee but a video later showed Rojas pulling a razor blade from inside his glove and cutting himself. The match was not replayed, Rojas and others with the Chilean F.A.were banned for life, Chile was therefore eliminated from the 1990 World Cup and also not allowed to enter the 1994 World Cup.
In May 2001, FIFA lifted the lifetime ban on Roberto Rojas and he was coaching with Sao Paulo. Oh, and Rosemary, the girl who threw the fire cracker? Punishment? No, she was signed up to display her talents in Playboy Brazil!
Earlier in 1988 I was sitting drinking a coca-cola in the office of the President of the Federacion Mexicana de Futebol in Mexico City, having a chat. We were friends because his wife was Swedish and we knew that country well. On his desk was a trophy which I knew that his country had won with an overage player. The day before I had been at a CONCACAF youth tournament in Guatemala City, and at one match was asked to join the President of Guatemala in his VIP section in the stadium. He was a keen fan as well as a politician. We talked about illegal players with the Mexican youth team which were then rumours, but later confirmed when a rival Mexican club coach, whose players should of been on the national team instead, blew the whistle.
Mexico was punished by FIFA and banned from the next World Cup. Later in the year I was reporting on a FIFA Congress in Munich the day before the UEFA Netherlands v Soviet Union European Nations Cup Final in the Olympiastadion, and took a photo of the empty Mexican space at the General Assembly meeting.
Last week a rugby union player for Harlequins in England was banned for 12 months and his club fined 250,000 Euros. The occasion was a Heineken Cup European Cup match. Due to the close contact of rugby players on the pitch, a player with blood can be replaced at any time. Tom Williams, with blood rushing from his mouth, went off and an accomplished kicker, Nick Evans, came on with five minutes remaining to try and win the match with a kick, but he failed. It was later found out that the blood was not from a match injury, but the player had cut himself. It was not the first time that a 'bloodied' player had cut himself .