Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

FIFA 2018 Russia

(FIFA, 2018)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Rob Smith, Formative Content

From 14 June, the eyes of the world will be fixed on Russia, as the host nation kicks off against Saudi Arabia in the first game of the eagerly anticipated 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Russia secured the right to host football’s most famous tournament in 2010, but the process was marred in controversy. A probe into alleged corruption around Russia’s bid, as well as Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup, led to ex-Fifa ethics investigator Michael Garcia resigning in protest in 2014.

Fractured relations

Meanwhile, human rights organizations have called for a boycott of the tournament to protest Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Clearly, the 2018 World Cup will take place against a backdrop of political uncertainty.

But this is nothing new. The World Cup has long been one of the most politically charged sporting events. The four matches highlighted below provide a snapshot of how often the footballing and political worlds collide:

1. Italy versus France, 1938

During the 1938 World Cup in France, just one year before the outbreak of the Second World War, Italy took on the host nation in the quarter-finals.

At the time, Italy was a fascist nation, led by Benito Mussolini. The Italian football team, famous in the modern era for wearing blue, wore black shirts and gave a fascist salute before kick off. Ahead of the game, Mussolini reportedly sent an ominous message to the team, with the instruction: “win or die”.

Fortunately for the players, Italy went on to beat France, and won the overall competition, beating Hungary in the final. Following Italy’s victory, the tournament would not be played again until 1950.

2. East Germany versus West Germany, 1974

By the end of the Second World War, Germany was a divided nation, and soon after split into East and West. The Berlin Wall, which stood until 1989, acted as a physical reminder of the nation’s political divisions.

At the 1974 World Cup, hosted in Germany, teams from the East and West met in the group stages. The East Germans, largely seen as the more inferior of the two sides, sealed victory with a 1-0 win over their western counterparts, topping the group in the process.

However, it was West Germany that eventually went on to win the tournament, beating the Netherlands in the final.

Following West Germany’s World Cup victory in 1990, the two teams united on 20 November of that year. Germany are the reigning World Cup champions, and will begin their defence against Mexico on 17 June.

3. Argentina versus England, 1986

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic over which Argentina claims sovereignty. The Falklands War claimed the lives of about 650 Argentine and 255 British servicemen, as well as three Falkland Islanders.

Four years later, during the 1986 World Cup, Argentina were pitted against England in the quarter-finals. Reports described the first half as “cagey” and “bad-tempered”, with grudges between the two nations allegedly spilling onto the pitch.

However, the match is best remembered for Argentine footballer Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. The diminutive striker scored after forcing the ball beyond England goalkeeper Peter Shilton with his hand. Despite complaints from the England players, the goal stood, giving Argentina a 1-0 lead.

If there were disputes over Argentina’s first goal, there could be none with the second, which saw Maradona evade several challenges before slipping the ball underneath Shilton. Argentina then proceeded to win the 1986 World Cup, defeating West Germany.

4. United States versus Iran, 1998

Tensions between the United States and Iran have simmered for more than half a century. However, relations between the two countries deteriorated dramatically after the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the US Embassy hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days from 1979 to 1981.

So when the two nations were drawn against each other at the 1998 World Cup, US Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg referred to it as “the mother of all games”, reports FourFourTwo magazine.Arguably the most politically charged match in World Cup history, the game ended in an Iranian victory and the US being knocked out of the tournament.

According to FourFourTwo, US defender Jeff Agoos said at the time: “We did more in 90 minutes than the politicians did in 20 years.”

Sport’s unifying power

While it may not always be the case, major sporting events do have the capacity to improve relations between nations in conflict.

At this year’s Winter Olympics, for example, athletes from North and South Korea marched under a single “unified Korea” flag during the opening ceremony.

Then in April, the leaders of North and South Korea met, marking the first such meeting between the two nations in 10 years and the first time a North Korean leader has set foot in the South in 65 years.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Sexual education in a school at the Brazilian Amazon

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul for Syria can topple Assad. Why did the US now decide to uproot them from Iraq?

It’s time to gang up: a personal conflict on discrepancies in the medical community

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

3 ways sustainable supply chains can build better business in a post-COVID world

Modernising EU justice systems: New package to speed up digitalisation of justice systems and boost training of justice professionals

Will the EU reconsider Frontex’s role in light of accusations about violations of migrants’ human rights?

The hottest new craze for German millennials? Gardening

South Sudan’s peace process ‘precarious, but progress in being made’, Security Council hears

Global Goals top General Assembly President’s priority list

Ferry capsizes near Mosul, UN chief offers solidarity, support ‘as needed’

EU Parliament: Follow the fraudulent money and confiscate it

Disaster Medicine in Medical Education: the investment you just can´t afford to ignore

I cycled over 6,000km across the United States to document climate change. Here’s what I learned

Why exporters need to mind the trade finance gap

The Fourth Industrial Revolution can close the digital divide. This is how

“Joining forces to #BeatPollution”, a Sting Exclusive by the Head of UNEP in Brussels

Let’s Learn

The European giant tourism sector in constant growth

Guterres holds ‘focused and frank’ informal discussions over future of Cyprus

New EU telecom rules: latest actions in time for transposition deadline

The need to resume preventive policies for chronic noncommunicable diseases

How to keep a healthy mind in times of social isolation

UN must provide redress for minorities placed in toxic Kosovo camps, says rights expert

How smarter machines can make us smarter humans

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

Health professionals: the frontline in the fight against the Covid-19

COVID-19 poses a dramatic threat to life in conflict zones

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

Trump ostracized by his party and world elites but still remains in course; how can he do it?

Refugee crisis update: EU fails to relocate immigrants from Greece and Italy

Compensation for damages by the State for infringement of EU law: the European Commission refers Spain to the Court of Justice for its rules on the compensation for damages incurred by private parties

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

Sustainable investment continues to gain momentum

‘Mosques should be safe havens, not sites of terror’, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

Schengen: MEPs ready for negotiations on temporary checks at national borders

Austerity ends in Eurozone, Germany is isolated

Without tackling ‘gross inequalities’ major issues will go unsolved, warns UN rights chief Bachelet

Climate change is a disruptor. Here’s how to harness it for innovation

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

Cameron postpones speech in Holland

Towards a zero tobacco public space in Cameroon

How green investment will help Latin America and the world fight climate change

Statistics show the ugly face of youth training schemes

Why sustainable packaging is good for profits as well as the planet

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

Brexit: European Commission recommends the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached on the revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and revised Political Declaration

How the powerful science of behaviour change can make us healthier

Respect people’s peaceful assembly and fair trail rights, UN human rights wing urges Nicaragua

Diana in Vietnam

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

Parliament approves seven-year EU budget 2021-2027

Why medical students decide to study abroad?

As COP25 goes into the night, Guterres calls for more climate ambition

Good Governance in developing modern quality infrastructure systems

Commission approves emergency measures to protect eastern Baltic cod

‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis

Maduro ‘brings the truth’ about Venezuela to UN Assembly; says he is ready to meet US President Trump

UN health emergency committee to re-convene on global threat posed by China coronavirus

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s