Twenty five years ago this week, July 4th 1990, I was in the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin for the semi-final between West Germany and England. A lunge by star player Paul Gascoigne on Thomas Berthold resulted in a yellow card shown by my Brazilian friend Jose Roberto Wright, who had an English great grandfather. It meant that he would miss the final.
Wright refereed 4 matches at ITALIA '90 and was very fit, but complained that too many of his comrades just went through the motions and didn't train very hard.
In fact, the match went to penalties after a 1-1 tie. Goals from Brehme on 59 minutes and Linecker 81 mins and The Three Lions lost 4-3. Too upset to take his turn, Gazza was replaced by Chris Waddle who missed and almost sent the ball out of the stadium. I caught the overnight sleeper train from Torino Porta Nova to Roma Termini and The Eternal City. A very boring 1-0 win four days later for Die Mannschaft over Argentina at Stadio Olimpico at the FIFA 1990 World Cup Final refereed by Mexican Edgardo Codesal. A penalty by Andreas Brehme won the cup for Franz Beckenbauer's men.
The close up shot of Gazza in tears after his yellow card went global and resulted in many big money endorsements and a transfer to Lazio.
LAURA BASSETT cried last night after she put the ball into her own net off the crossbar 2 minutes into added time at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. The only difference was her red painted finger nails. What a horrible way to lose 2-1 to defending champions Japan. The Three Lionesses took the match to the Blue Samurai in the second half and should have won a place in Sundays final v USA at DC Place in Vancouver.
Instead, they will stay in Alberta and take on Germany on Saturday. The ladies have indeed INSPIRED A NATION despite kick off times at midnight British Summer Time. "Poor, poor Laura Bassett" tweated Gary Lineker, who had comforted Gazza 25 years ago. " Hold your head up high girl, you have been IMMENSE and led by example" from Kelly Smith a former England star.
There has been a great deal of travel across 4 time zones for the teams at CANADA 2015. England played in 5 venues, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton. Moncton is 5,900 kms from Vancouver. At World Cup 94 in USA Boston to Los Angeles was 'only' 4,739 kms. The artificial turf fields were were hot on the soles of the feet and some venues, such as Montreal had a thin layer of turf laid over hard concrete.
Why increase from 16 to 24 finalists you may ask, as many people have done? Well, with the growth in the women's game it was inevitable. Should FIFA had waited 4 years, 8 years, 12 years ??? PROBABLY NOT. We had some really embarrassing scores in the opening matches, but those federations that are serious will take note. It also expanded the referee pool and the result was some horrendous decisions. Not sure which FIFA suit (or skirt) will get fired? If I was in charge I would make all the referees and assistants AND the referee assessors, play matches with each other TWICE A DAY.
A place in the final for the admirable Welsh born England coach Mark Sampson would have had the English media in overdrive. BBC broadcast every match in the tournament live and the commentaries were very good as was the home based studio talking heads. The upcoming Women's FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Notts County will be played at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 01 for the first time. Reasonable priced tickets from www.thefa.com.
Enjoy the third place and final and if you can, join me next Tuesday evening at THE WORLD'S OLDEST FOOTBALL GROUND, SANDYGATE in Sheffield for the world's oldest derby. HALLAM FC, (www.hallamfc.co.uk), founded 1860, versus THE WORLD'S FIRST, SHEFFIELD FC. 1857 www.sheffieldfc.com