Monday, May 22, 2006

World Cup Memories #3

by Smart

The following is a true story, and happened in the summer of '82.

I say that because even to this day I still cannot believe what I saw, what the watching world saw, but the referee and other officials quite obviously didn't.

On July 8th 1982, West Germany were to play France in the World Cup Semi-Final. Both teams were very strong and had been fancied to lift the trophy since the competition began. Platini would captain his attacking French side against the likes of Littbarski and Rummenigge of the more defensive and cautious Germans.

1-1 at half-time, the two teams re-appear for the second-half and no-one could have anticipated the events that were about to unfold. In the 70th minute the in-form Platini plays a through ball and Patrick Battiston is away, leaving the turning German defenders in his wake. Harold Schumacher, the German goalkeeper is alert to the danger and rushes off his line towards Battiston - and when I say TOWARDS Battiston, boy do I mean TOWARDS Battiston.

Schumacher forgot that the ball was a small white spherical object, and continued at pace before leaping into the oncoming French Striker. The two collide and fall to the ground. Battiston was unconscious.

The foul itself is possibly the most outrageous 'challenge' I can remember seeing in my life. But possibly more amazing than that was what followed - a goal kick. The ref didn't acknowledge the incident. No free-kick, no booking, no sending off. Schumacher feigned injury after mugging Battiston. Battiston didn't have chance to check if he still had his watch and wallet as he had to be stretchered off.

From that moment on the crowd and watching millions were screaming for a French victory and the match itself is still regarded as a 'classic', despite the horror tackle. 1-1 at full-time, the French took a 3-1 lead during extra-time, only for the Germans to score 2 extra-time goals themselves to force the match into a penalty shoot-out. There was to be no fairytale ending to this match - Platini's men lost the shoot-out - the Germans were in the Final.

My story doesn't end there, however. Oh no. Upon returning to school the following morning to carry on with the usual 20-a-side playground World Cup, you'll get no prizes for guessing which incident was being re-enacted.

Sometimes sportsmen forget what important role models they really are.


Kedge said...

Ah! Memories. That example of refereeing injustice ranks alongside the 1993 qualification match for the 1994 World Cup, against Holland, when Ronald "Sporting" Koeman survived an obvious penalty appeal for hacking down David Platt in the area, and to add insult to injury scored from a free kick minutes later.
Thus spawning the "Do I not like that" saying of Graham Taylor.

Chris said...

That's a great shout, young Kedge. I'd totally forgotten about that travesty of justice. You've obviously got a much better memory for these things than me!

Smart said...

Graham Taylors "You've just cost me my job" was a classic quote, I feel.

Well, he had blame some one!

Kedge said...

Thinking back to the good old days of IT football, it was those sorts of incidents that taught us our skills. You learning how to defend, and me the skills of a goalie. Trouble was you got your defending from Schumacher and I got my goalkeeping from Koeman (with a touch of the David James's).

Chris said...

Another variation on the 'Schumacher Intervention' was seen in 1986 when Brazil played France in the quarter-finals.

Bruno Bellone was clean through with only Brazilian keeper Carlos to beat, when out came the latter and forcibly diverted the Frenchman away from goal, thus allowing more defenders to get back and prevent France going 2-1 up.

At least on this occasion, justice was done when France qualified for the semi-finals after a penalty shoot-out...


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