FIFA World Cup History: The Shame Of Gijón

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FIFA World Cup History: The Shame Of Gijón

With the third round of group stage matches of the 2010 World Cup underway, everyone has noticed the final matches are being played simultaneously, which makes sense when you want to prevent fraud or match fixing.

FIFA introduced this rule for the 1986 World Cup after a shameful display by Austria and West Germany during the 1982 World Cup. West Germany beat Austria 1-0 in a match dubbed the "Nichtangriffspakt von Gijón" or the "Non-agression pact of Gijón," effectively eliminating Algeria from the tournament.

The circumstances leading up to this match were extraordinary.

Algeria, spearheaded by legendary forward Rabah Madjer, shocked West Germany by beating them 2-1 and consequently becoming the first African nation to beat a European nation during a World Cup. Meanwhile, Austria defeated Chile 1-0.

During the second round of matches, West Germany trashed Chile 4-1, because of a hat trick from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Algeria lost 2-0 to the Austrians.

Prior to the last game, the standings in this group were as follows:

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Austria 2 2 0 0 3 0 +3 4
 Algeria 3 2 0 1 5 5 0 4
 West Germany 2 1 0 1 5 3 +2 2
 Chile 3 0 0 3 3 8 −5 0

Keep in mind that a win was only worth two points back then, and goal differential was decisive when teams were tied on points.

Going into the last match, Algeria raced to a 3-0 lead against Chile before collapsing in the second half. They conceded two goals but held on to a 3-2 win and looked comfortable in second place, knowing West Germany and Austria had to face off later that day.

Both these Teutonic neighbours were well aware that a 1-0 or 2-0 win for West Germany would see both teams progress from the group stage.

Coincidence or not, after the early opening goal by Horst Hrubesch, the game grounded to a halt; both teams were just passing the ball to each other at midfield without attempting to capture the ball or launch an attack.

The fans and pundits were furious at this lacklustre display from both sides.

Inside the stadium, the Spanish crowd was shouting "Fuera, fuera" (out, out), whilst some fans took to waving banknotes at players, implying the match had been sold to the West Germans.

At one point back home, German commentator Eberhard Stanjek refused to comment on the game any longer. Austrian commentator Robert Seeger bemoaned the spectacle and actually requested the viewers should switch off their sets.

Of course, the Algerians were furious.

The Algerians present in the stadium tried to storm the pitch and were held back by the police, whereas the Algerian FA lodged an official protest with FIFA. The complaint was turned down.

FIFA did revise the qualification system for the next World Cup, but that was of little comfort to the Algerians.

Meanwhile, the Germans did nothing to clear their name.

In fact, German manager Jupp Derwall remarked, "We wanted to progress, not play football."

German skipper Lothar Matthäus commented: "We have gone through, that is all that matters."

Was the game really rigged, or was this just an unlucky series of events between two teams who realised they could very well eliminate themselves if they had gone all out to score the next goal?

You be the judge—here is some footage from the actual match.

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