Hosting a World Cup can mean much more than playing in front of your fans. There are political, emotional and several external factors needed to be taken into consideration. Under these circumstances, we have seen teams rise and giants fall.
We can go as early as the first ever World Cup hosted in Uruguay. The hosts were 2-1 down at half time to Argentina. Reports and witnesses state that the visitors received some unpleasant high ranked guests in their change room at half time. These unwanted guests came with threats. As the story goes Uruguay ended up winning the game 4-2 and lifting the first ever Jules Rimet trophy.
The 30’s were dominated by Mussolini’s Italy with lots of political power behind them. The Italians were host in 1934 and a fellow European country hosted the 1938 tournament.
1966 saw England lift their only trophy in their long history. The tournament was not short of controversy as the hosts received favorable calls during the tournament as well as the much-remembered final vs West Germany. Did the ball cross the line?
In 1978 and under the old format, Argentina needed to beat Peru by at least 4 goals to classify for the final. Under militant dictatorship, there are many reports of threats and the likes being handed to the Peruvian nationals pre-game. Needless to say, Argentina went on to win the game 6-0 and later on lift their first trophy.
1990 was hosted in Italy with the locals favourites to reach the final. Once West Germany qualified, the merchandise with an all European final was already created. Argentina spoiled the party by surprisingly beating the Azzurri on penalties in the semi-final. The final was a controversial event with Argentina being handed 2 reds and a penalty against. Their request for a penalty was also waved away. The controversy increased as a former president of the Mexican referees association disclosed of a meeting previous to the final where Codesal (the referee for the final) was told that “Argentina didn’t have to win”. Codesal also happens to be the son in law of Javier Arriaga, a key figure in FIFA’s Referees’ Commission in 1990.
In 2002 we saw South Korea controversially make it all the way to the semi-finals including some very favourable calls against giants Italy in the round of 16.
Sometimes a home advantage is a little more than the crowd support.
- Willy Tehlapone for www.footballretro.com