Fearless?

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (September 7th 2014)

Facts

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Facts have a habit of being pesky, especially when trying to defend the seemingly indefensible. Englandʼs performance against a far from impressive Norwegian line-up was poor. Victory by a single goal at home while hardly testing the Norwegian goalkeeper Ørjan Håskjold Nyland was uninspiring and did not bode well for the test to come on Monday, a far better Switzerland, who impressed at the World Cup.

Hodgson, a former manager of Switzerland knows the strengths of the Swiss. England needed a confidence-boosting victory to take to the Alpine nation. Hodgson talked Norway up, describing them as good opposition – better than Perú – but there was no disguising the fact that Norway was ranked 53 in the world for a reason and were rebuilding too.

Hodgsonʼs Plea

Although his annoyance seized the headlines Hodgson had valid points too, but not in his defence of Englandʼs performance, which was quite frankly drab. Switzerlandʼs new manager Vladimir Petković, who succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld will have seen little to instil fear in him prior to Mondayʼs qualification tie in Basel. However, the old guard has retired, or been retired and the new breed will take time to settle in.

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Some of these players are top-class players in the making, but the players are in the making”, Hodgson said. “You canʼt play five or six games for England and be a regular at Liverpool for six or seven months and then be David Beckham. You canʼt be Phil Jones with all the injuries he has had and nail down a place in the Manchester United first team and then become John Terry. You canʼt be Jack Wlishere, who has lost all that football through injury and then all of a sudden be Bryan Robson. Letʼs be fair on all of these things. Thatʼs all I am asking”.

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Nevertheless, with the players available to him England should be beating Norway comfortably.

They were humiliated 6-0 by France just before the World Cup and face a difficult task qualifying for the Euro2016 despite the expansion from 16 to 24 teams.

Denial

Norway was a team that England should have beaten comfortably. Thereʼs no disguising that fact, however much Hodgson wanted media and fans to believe that England had beaten a good team with a performance to match. It simply wasnʼt the case.

If we had played badly, if a lot of players had had really poor performances, if the quality of our passing and our movement was nothing like I wanted to see and if our defending wasn’t as compact, aggressive and organised as it was for large periods, I would be the first to say so”, Hodgson said. “But I am not going to say it’s not that, just because we had a bad World Cup”.

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An uncomfortable fact was that despite the possession and even domination that Hodgson pointed to in his defence of the performance Joe Hart, captain for a few minutes, after Rooney was substituted, was the busier keeper, twice denying Joshua King with good saves. Norway was a pale shadow of former glories, but Hodgson was having none of it.

You have just seen an England team dominate for 45 minutes against a good opponent – an opponent thatʼs hard to beat and you have seen them work very hard to create chances”, Hodgson said. “Donʼt hit me with statistics. Two shots on target? Donʼt give me that one. What about the ones they threw themselves in front of? We had that much possession and you talk about two shots on target. The performance was quite good”.

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The Long Hang-Over

Fresh from a disappointing display at the World Cup, Hodgson needed a good performance to regain the trust of fans. It wasnʼt forthcoming, but Hodgson defended thought that England had in fact played well. There was a lot of euphoria before the World Cup”, he said. “Allow me to be excited about what they can do and allow me to stand up and say I think my team played well at a press conference when I think they have”.

It didnʼt convince, but Hodgson was far from finished.

We were getting 75,000 people to see us play Perú, who, with respect, were nowhere near as difficult an opponent as Norway and now we have 40,000”, Hodgson said regarding a match that had simply failed to entice support after what was considered a poor showing in the World Cup.

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Belligerent

The normally mild-mannered and softly-spoken Roy Hodgson had had enough. Sensing stinging criticism coming the England manager got his retaliation in. The facts showed that only two shots on goal registered. Wayne Rooneyʼs goal from the penalty spot and Danny Welbeckʼs shot from about 15 yards out, which Nyland saved.

I canʼt put that right because I canʼt turn the clock back, but what I can do is analyse what I have seen and judge that through my eyes, and not judge it because someone is going to tell me: ʻWell, you only had two shots at goalʼ, because for me, that is absolute f*****g b******s; Iʼm sorry”, Hodgson said.

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Even if there were shots that were blocked England have to deliver better against such teams, but Hodgson refused to accept that the performance was below par. “You have seen us work very hard to create chances”, he said. “You have seen players get in behind defenders in wide areas and miss crosses and, yes, I am not terribly happy about that. I would have liked the crosses to be a little bit better. I would have liked two of three of those shots to get past the blocking player and whiz past the goal. I would have liked Daniel Sturridge’s magnificent effort, from that wonderful pass, not to land on the roof of the net”.

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But that shot didnʼt go in. The crosses were not as good as they should have been and shots were blocked and the performance was not up to the standard expected.

I saw a 10-to-15-minute period in the second half when I thought we were nowhere near what I wanted to see. I thought we lost the aggression in our defending and we didn’t attack anywhere near as well. Joe had to make a good save from a corner, and Norway almost scored again from a Gary Cahill back-pass. But we saw a different system then. We changed it around and I saw some very positive moments”.

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Drab

by Satish Sekar at Wembley Stadium © Satish Sekar (September 3rd 2014)

Below Par

There was more excitement in the normally unflappable Roy Hodgsonʼs press conference than on the pitch tonight. Hodgson was terse in his defence of a dreary performance with few positives. Nevertheless, Hodgson, true to form, found positives. The obvious were the displays of Man of the Match Raheem Sterling and his Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge.

“Donʼt hit me with statistics”, Hodgson snapped. “Two shots on target? Donʼt give me that one. What about the ones they threw themselves in front of? We had that much possession and you talk about two shots on target. The performance was quite good”.

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The facts told a different story. Norway is ranked 53 in the world for a reason. Before the World Cup they were thrashed by France. Their main striking threat Joshua King is struggling to make an impact at Blackburn Rovers. Contrary to Hodgsonʼs claim that Norway was a good team, the rankings are not lying in this case. Norway are not that good. In a qualifying group that contains Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria, even Norwegians talk about fighting Bulgaria for third place.

An ambitious England team should be looking to win convincingly against such opposition. Hodgson thought they were a higher quality than Perú, but were they. Perú held their own in the first half before tiring and paying the price for tiredness and notable absentees. Norway have much to prove. Their tactics were obvious – they would absorb pressure and hope to profit later.

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Hodgson gets Retaliation in

You have just seen an England team dominate for 45 minutes against a good opponent, an opponent thatʼs hard to beat and you have seen them work very hard to create chances”, Hodgson said. “There was a lot of euphoria before the World Cup. We were getting 75,000 people to see us play Peru, who, with respect, were nowhere near as difficult an opponent as Norway. And now we have 40,000”.

Rooney scores

The normally placid England manager refused to take criticism of the performance, taking great exception to a question about just two shots on goal – Rooneyʼs penalty and Danny Welbeckʼs shot from just inside the penalty area, both in the final quarter of the match.

I canʼt put that right because I canʼt turn the clock back, but what I can do is analyse what I have seen and judge that through my eyes, and not judge it because someone is going to tell me: ʻWell, you only had two shots at goalʼ, because for me, that is absolute f*****g b******s, Iʼm sorry”.

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Satisfaction?

Hodgson praised new skipper Wayne Rooneyʼs performance, although barring the match-winning goal from the penalty spot there was little to enthuse about from Manchester Unitedʼs captain. In just over 20 minutes new Arsenal signing Danny Welbeck posed more questions than Rooney. A stinging shot from 15 yards out was parried by Norwegian goalkeeper Ørjan Håskjold Nyland and after a neat interchange on the left of the area with Sturridge, Welbeckʼs centre lacked only the finishing touch.

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Bar a twenty minute period in the second half Norway was content to defend. Joshua Kingʼs header from a corner brought a fine save out of Joe Hart – heʼd been little more than a spectator up to that point, bar a slight fumble of Per Ciljan Skjelbredʼs cross/shot. King almost punished Gary Cahillʼs error on the right flank. King cut into the area before shooting from an acute angle that Hart had covered.

A sumptuous pass by Sterling found Sturridge in the area, but his lob from 10 yards out nestled on the roof of the net. Jack Wilshere and Sturridge looked puzzled either side of the interval when sent tumbling to earth by Håvard Nordtveit. Portuguese referee Jorge Sousa was unimpressed on both occasions. However, after Norwayʼs most attacking period, it proved third time lucky. Omar Elabdellaoui fouled Sterling to concede a 67th minute penalty. Rooney converted it for the only goal in an uninspiring match.

Positives

Less than half full Wembleyʼs famed atmosphere was lacking – toned down by a defensive performance. Norway came to frustrate and they did. Hoping to grab something on the counter-attack, the plan almost worked, but for Hart. Manager Per Mathias Høgmo bemoaned the naïve defending that cost his team a penalty. His concern was to boost confidence – achieved – and learn the lesson when defending against quality attackers like Sturridge and Sterling.

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In defeat they claimed a moral victory. Few thought Englandʼs display – two shots on target, Welbeck and Rooneyʼs penalty – posed any threat to Switzerland next week, but Norway showed enough to suggest that despite losing they could frustrate Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria in a harder group than Englandʼs.

But Hodgson was having none of it. Allow me to be excited about what they can do and allow me to stand up and say I think my team played well at a press conference when I think they have”, Hodgson said. He was satisfied with the performance, believing in spite of the evidence to the contrary and other peopleʼs opinions that England had played well.

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Cometh the Hour?

 

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 12th 2014)

Wilderness Years Begin

Germanyʼs recent record in major finals is – well – unGerman. Renowned for ruthless efficiency they could be relied on to always be in the mix for major trophies, but the last time Germany lifted a trophy was in 1996. Remember who the successful coach was – a certain Berti Vogts. Argentinaʼs record is even worse. Their last appearance in the final was a losing effort in 1990 – an awful final. 

He inherited Franz Beckenbauerʼs World Cup winning team in 1990 and led then to defeat to Denmark in 1992. He left after eight years in charge after falling in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1994 and again in 1998 to Bulgaria and Croatia respectively.

Erich Ribeck led der Mannschaft (the national team) to a shameful exit in Euro2000 – bottom of their qualifying group. Rudi Völler managed one place better in Euro2004. Latvia finished below them, but two years earlier Völler led Germany to defeat in the final to Brasil. Luiz Felipe Scolari was Brasilʼs manager then.

Overdue

After the failure at Euro2004 Jürgen Klinsmann replaced Völler. Germany reached the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup on home soil as Klinsmann blooded a young team and left the team to his assistant Joachim Löw, but despite the studious approach of Löw trophies continued to elude der Mannschaft. Löwʼs team matched Klinsmannʼs achievement finishing third. On both occasions Germany lost to the eventual winners.

Spainʼs rise to dominance began in 2008 in Austria. The late Luis Aragonés Suárez ushered in six years of unparalleled success by beating Germany 1-0 in the final. They knocked Löwʼs charges out in the semi-final in Durban in South Africaʼs World Cup. And in the Ukraine and Poland, Spain retained their European title, beating Italy 4-0 in the final. Germany had been beaten 2-1 by Italy in the semi-final.

Opportunity Knocks

Spainʼs defence of their world title was one of the worst ever. Sated by their three titles Spain returned home at the first opportunity. Germany continued growing into the competition with every passing match, culminating in a humiliating mauling of hosts Brasil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte – the worst thrashing ever in the semi-final of a World Cup.

The previous worst was 84 years ago in the inaugural World Cup when eventual winners Uruguay beat Yugoslavia 6-1 and the USA lost 6-1 to Argentina. Austria lost 6-1 to West Germany in 1954 as well. It had three times and at least one of them had a very good reason for losing so badly – they played a large portion of the match effectively with eight players. One of the wounded was the goal-keeper.

The USA never had a chance. The rules permitted no substitutions and Argentina had taken no prisoners on their way through to Belo Horizonte. Their goal-keeper was injured after 4 minutes. Another player played on injured and a third played with a broken leg until half time. This was before substitutions were allowed.

Best Chance

Surely Germany will never have a better chance to end almost two decades of trophylessness. They topped their group – one of the most difficult, dismantling Portugal, drawing with Ghana and just beating the USA before Algeria gave them a fright, but fell just short. They deservedly beat France and completely humiliated Brasil.

Nobody can say Germany has not reached the final on merit. They have reached finals and semi-finals, but ultimately this tournament will be viewed a failure if they fail to match Italyʼs achievement and win the World Cup for the fourth time. Germany have done well; theyʼve got close before. Is it Germanyʼs time to win the World Cup?

Arsenalʼs Lukas Podolski thinks so. “Of course”, he said before Arsenal ended their own trophy drought. “Of course we want to win the World Cup, but other teams want that as well and it was not easy. The pressure is big because we would say Germany are the favourites – the people in Germany, the newspapers say we already win the World Cup, but itʼs not easy”.

 

Argentina Pip Netherlands

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 9th 2014)

Drab Spectacle

Louis van Gaal is no Felix Okey Emordi. Hailed as a genius for substituting Ajaxʼs Jasper Cillessen for penalties hero Tim Krul in the quarter-final van Gaal left no room for repetition when he replaced an ineffective Robin van Persie with Schalke04ʼs Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – his third and final substitution.

A drab 0-0 draw meant penalties and Cillessen had never saved one in 13 attempts. Argentina won the penalty shoot-out 4-2, scoring all four to bring Cillessenʼs record to 0 for 17. He got hands to Maxi Rodríguezʼ final spot-kick, but could not keep it out. Sergio Romero, who had spent a season on-loan with Monaco, but confined mainly to the bench in France was the hero. Defender Ron Vlaarʼs penalty was poor and Wesley Sneijder saw his well-saved.

Missing in Action

The match – billed as Lionel Messi versus Arjen Robben in advance didnʼt turn out that way. Bayern Münchenʼs Robben was shackled by a masterful exhibition of defending by Barçelonaʼs Javier Mascherano. Extra time was largely forgettable although Newellʼs Old Boysʼ Maxi Rodríguez should have had an assist when he put Interʼs Rodrigo Palacio through with just Cillessen to beat. Palacio nodded it into the grateful arms of Ajaxʼs shot-stopper.

Cillessen may not be a penalty stopper, but he certainly doesnʼt lack confidence or ball skills. Both Gonzalo Higuaín and the Napoli strikerʼs replacement Sergio Agüero were left with egg on their faces by the same back-heel and turn to find space to start a counter-attack. FIFA did at least learn a lesson from yesterday. A minuteʼs silence or applause was observed for the great Alfredo di Stéfano. Argentina will play Germany at the Estádio do Maracanã on Sunday while Brasil and the Netherlands will meet for third or fourth in Brasilia – the final that should have been if the thuggish Argentine dictator General Jorge Videla Redondo had not been allowed to bully his way into getting the result that he wanted in 1978.

 

 

Do the Right Thing

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 8th 2014)

Murdered

Tonight the world of football has the opportunity to do the right thing – honour the legacy of a man the sport badly let down. Riven by corruption allegations and rotten publicity FIFA and its beleaguered President Joseph Sepp Blatter has the opportunity to take a small step to correct the shameful neglect of the legacy of a football icon.

Fifty years ago today a 40 year-old Haitian was forced to drive his kidnappers – venal murdering thugs – to a police station. From there he was taken to the notorious Fort Dimanche Prison – a place many never emerged from alive. Joseph Gaetjens was never seen alive again.

If Only

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He had been warned to leave – members of his family had already fled. Because they were involved in the opposition to an evil dictator. That they sought refuge in a country ruled by a vicious tyrant Rafael Trujillo says all that needs to be said of the Haiti of dictator François Duvalier. Gaetjens was not interested in politics. He was a genial and generous soul who though that being a good and decent person would protect him – if only.

Sadly in his venal thuggish kleptocracy Duvalierʼs enforcers the Ton Ton Macoutes could kidnap and kill with impunity. It later emerged that Gaetjens was kidnapped and murdered, not as retribution for his brothersʼ politics, but because the Macoutes coveted his laundry business.

Triumph

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Fourteen years earlier Gaetjens had the world at his feet. He had come to the United States of America as a young man. He waited tables to pay for the opportunity to demonstrate his football talent. He played just three times for the USA – never in his adopted homeland. Only Brasilians witnessed his three caps for the USA.

Gaetjens had intended to apply for US citizenship – he never became an American citizen. After the World Cup – Brasilʼs first he played in France before returning to Haiti. Past his best he played once for Haiti before finally hanging up his boots. Nevertheless, Gaetjens left an immense football legacy. He scored one of the most iconic goals in football history – the goal that sent shockwaves throughout football.

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The goal – a deft header from Walter Bahrʼs cross – was enough to beat the mighty England, then competing in their first World Cup. Brasilian supporters were enthralled. Gaetjens was chaired off the pitch in Belo Horizonteʼs Estádio Independência. The stadium was refurbished in 2012. We visited it last year. There are no statues of Gaetjens – not even a plaque.

We called on FIFA to do the right thing a year ago. Tonight Germany and Brasil meet in the semi-final of the World Cup in Belo Horizonte – the city where Gaetjens and the US Miracle Team made history. It was the perfect opportunity to do the right thing – remember this shamefully neglected footballing icon with a minuteʼs silence or applause before as we had asked FIFA to agree to a year ago.

Appreciated

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The BBCʼs South American football correspondent – expert really – Tim Vickery agrees with us that Brasilʼs World Cup should properly remember and appreciate the football legacy of Joseph Gaetjens. “I think that would be wonderful”, he told us last year. “It would be wonderful and itʼs so appropriate as I say given the relationship between Brasil and Haiti. No Iʼm all in favour. I think itʼs a great idea”.

Gaetjens, shamefully, has been all but forgotten – occasional articles is not enough. He deserves better – far better. “I think itʼs such a fabulous story and you might think that it shows the United States at its most positive in the way that he was involved in the team and he had this role in scoring the goal and the fact that he was forgotten afterwards, I think is a shame”, Vickery told us. “ … given the fact that the World Cup 64 years afterwards will stage games in the city where Gaetjens scored his goal, I think itʼs entirely appropriate that something be done”.

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But time is running out. Itʼs tonight or Gaetjens is once again ignored where his legacy should be strongest.

The case of Joseph  Gaetjens is particularly tragic in the sense that it mirrors the stories of so many former players for whom past glories serve as no passport to a comfortable life,” says the President of FIFPro Europe Division and former West Ham winger Bobby Barnes. “At FIFPro we hear many terrible stories of players who have fallen on hard times having once thrilled thousands of fans and the fact that Joseph Gaetjens scored a goal which caused shockwaves around the world at the World Cup in Brazil in 1950 is particularly poignant as we celebrate the FIFA World Cup back in Brazil”.

Barnes is understandably saddened by Gaetjensʼ experiences after his retirement. “It is inconceivable in the modern age that the hero of the United States national team could have faced problems gaining citizenship and even sadder that he came to such a violent end while back living in his native Haiti”, Barnes says. “It is pleasing that his achievements were recognised eventually in the United States, but as is often the case the recognition he achieved after his death was not the case during his life”.

With the tragic death of the great – possibly greatest – Don Alfredo di Stéfano Laulhé yesterday, there will surely be a minuteʼs silence or applause for him. It should include Gaetjens too.

 

Remembering Joseph Gaetjens – Archive

 

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 6th 2013)

A Great Idea

I agree”, the BBCʼs South America football correspondent Tim Vickery says regarding our idea that Brasilʼs World Cup should properly remember and appreciate the football legacy of Joseph Gaetjens at the semi-final of next yearʼs World Cup in Belo Horizionte – the scene of Gaetjensʼ triumph. “I think that would be wonderful. It would be wonderful and itʼs so appropriate as I say given the relationship between Brasil and Haiti. No Iʼm all in favour. I think itʼs a great idea”.

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Empower-Sport makes no secret of its belief that more needs to be done by football to remember Gaetjens. He was inducted into the sportʼs Hall of Fame in the USA, but so were the rest of the Miracle Team of 1950. Sixty years after his remarkable achievement in Belo Horizonte his son Lesly accepted a coveted award award on behalf of his murdered father. The National Soccer Coachesʼ Association of America gave its All America Award for 2010 posthumously to Gaetjens.

We believe that this recognition is far too little. Football and FIFA must make sure that Gaetjensʼ legacy is properly honoured. Brasilʼs World Cup is the ideal time and place to do this. At the very least the semi-final in Belo Horizonte on July 8th 2014 should begin with a minuteʼs silence or applause to honour the memory and legacy of Joseph Gaetjens. Vickery agrees.

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Seismic Shocks

Gaetjens sent a seismic shock through the world of football by scoring the goal that beat the mighty England – competing in their first World Cup – 64 years ago. A team of part-time footballers humbled a team thought to be one of the best in the world. It was so unbelievable that some refused to believe the score and reported that England had beaten the USA 10-0. In fact the impossible had happened. Gaetjensʼ 38th minute goal had beaten England.

Gaetjens never received US citizenship. He departed for France before eventually returning to his native Haiti where his story reached its tragic and deplorable conclusion. Gaetjens was kidnapped by the Ton Ton Macoutes – the notoriously brutal and venal thugs of Haitian dictator François (Papa Doc) Duvalier – on July 8th 1964. He was taken to the notorious Fort Dimanache Prison and was never seen alive again. There is no doubt that a football icon was murdered by cowardly thugs in order to steal his laundry business.

Legacy

I think itʼs such a fabulous story and you might think that it shows the United States at its most positive in the way that he was involved in the team and he had this role in scoring the goal and the fact that he was forgotten afterwards, I think is a shame”, Vickery told us.

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Gaetjens was remembered fondly by Brasilians – he was chaired off the pitch in Belo Horizonte by jubilant Brasilian fans who knew they had witnessed something special. Even Brasilʼs greatest player at that tournament remembers him. Gaetjens was playing in Paris at the time.

I remember talking once to Zizinho who was Brasilʼs star player in that World Cup in 1950 and he told me, ʻI was in Paris once and a fellow tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Oh Iʼm Gaetjens”ʼ, Vickery says, “and you know for someone who achieved something so wonderful to be so forgotten after the tragedy of what happened to him back in Haiti, now thatʼs especially pertinent given the fact that Brasil has a responsibility with Haiti because the United Nations Peace-keeping Force which is in Haiti is largely from Brasil”.

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The links between Haiti and Brasil are strong but controversial. “There are Haitian immigrants coming into the country – thatʼs another controversial subject because Brasilʼs perhaps not entirely happy about the quantity of them coming in”, Vickery said. “I was at the Italy Haiti game just before this tournament [the Confederationsʼ Cup] started and there were certainly a few Haitians cheering on their team, so given the relationship between Brasil and Haiti, given the fact that the World Cup next year, 64 years afterwards will stage games in the city where Gaetjens scored his goal, I think itʼs entirely appropriate that something be done”.

 

When Cheating Prospered

 

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 4th 2014)

Outrageous

Tonight Joachim Löwʼs Germany must face another of the victims of the 1982 West Germany teamʼs win at all costs mentality. They beat Algeria in an entertaining and sportingly contested match – just. This afternoon they face Didier Deschampsʼ France in the first of Brasilʼs World Cupʼs quarter-final at Rio de Janeiroʼs Estádio do Maracaña – Estádio Journalista Mário Filho. Löw knows that yet another shameful injustice will loom large tonight.

Germanyʼs victory over Algeria – played in a sporting way – laid the Shame of Gijón of 1982 to rest. West Germany reached the final through disgraceful lack of sportsmanship – match-fixing in Algeriaʼs case and wanton thuggery in Franceʼs case. West Germany had fixed the result against Austria in the first round in order to ensure that both reached the second round at Algeriaʼs expense.

FIFA shamefully rejected Algeriaʼs complaint. Both teams made no effort as they swindled paying fans and football to secure the disgraceful result. Both should have been sent home in disgrace and banned for at least the next tournament, which West Germany also lost in the final. If FIFA had had the morals or courage to do the right thing then one of the sportʼs most disgraceful so-called challenges would not have occurred.

Schumacherʼs Assault

On July 8th 1982 France and West Germany met in the semi-final of the World Cup at Sevillaʼs Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pijuán. It proved to be one of the most infamous matches in the history of the World Cup Finals thanks to the vile cheating of West German goal-keeper Harald Schumacher. Dutch referee Charles Corver and his linesmen Bruno Galler and Robert Valentine missed one of the most blatant and outrageous fouls ever seen on a football pitch – one that broke not only the rules of the game, but of France too.

Schumacherʼs shoulder charge left Patrick Battiston unconscious. He had only been on the pitch seven minutes and French manager Michel Hidalgo had to bring on his last substitute. Corver claims that he was watching the ball and did not see the foul. If he missed that he had no business refereeing and even if he failed to see it – a disgrace of a challenge – what about the linesmen?

Battiston was stretchered off with current UEFA President Michel Platini accompanying the stretcher off the pitch trying to comfort Battiston.

Karma

Not only was Battiston knocked unconscious he lost teeth and had vertebrae damaged. He still carries the scars, but Battiston generously forgave Schumacher. He still believes that Schumacher did not do it on purpose – he was just incredibly pumped up. Battiston was not impressed with Schumacherʼs comment that heʼd pay for Battistonʼs crowns.

Schumacher was not punished at all for the horror-challenge. Corver gave the French nothing – not even a free-kick., let alone the red card that disgraceful assault deserved. Schumacher may not have intended to injure Battiston, but he did. It was nowhere near a fair challenge, or a mistimed one.

Battistonʼs outrage is reserved for his country. He believes that Corverʼs refereeing favoured West Germany. Two years later France hosted Euro1984. West Germany were defending champions. They failed to reach the knock-out stages. France, including Battiston, went on to win their first major trophy.