68th Minute, Lakhdar Belloumi, Algeria v West Germany, 1982 World Cup
Before the 1978 World Cup, no African team had ever won a game at the World Cup. Tunisia changed that by beating Mexico 3-1 in Argentina. The World Cup was extended to 24 teams for the 1982 World Cup in Spain which meant Africa gained an extra spot for the 1982 edition. Cameroon and Algeria were the sides who went to Spain to show the world that African football can be great too. African football has been badly underrepresented in the World Cup until recently. Egypt competed in the second World Cup in Italy in 1934 but just played the one match which they lost 4-2 to Hungary. Africa would then have to wait until the 1970 World Cup to compete at World Cup level again. This was due to FIFA making it very difficult for African sides to qualify with just one spot available where they would need to play off against a European side to advance to the finals. Morocco represented CAF in the 1970 World Cup and only gained one point then four years later Zaire were humiliated by Yugoslavia in the 1974 edition and were also well beaten by Brazil and Scotland.
So not much was expected of Algeria in the 1982 World Cup despite them reaching the quarter finals of the Olympic Games two years earlier. They were drawn with West Germany, Austria and Chile in a group which would prove to be one of the most controversial of all-time and change the scheduling of the World Cup forever.
In their opening game The Desert Foxes faced West Germany in Gijon. After coping with West Germany’s attacks in the first half they gained a bit confidence in the second. After 54 minutes they took the lead through Mustafa Mudjer who prodded home from close range after getting to a rebound first. Rummenigge equalised for the Germans.
Algeria shock the world by instantly going ahead again against the West Germans and go on to win the match.
What Happened Next?
Algeria lost 2-0 to Austria who had already beaten Chile 1-0. West Germany beat Chile 4-1 which meant going in to the final matches Algeria needed to win and hope for the right result in the other game. Algeria looked near certain of qualification when they led Chile 3-0 as their goal difference received a big boost but at half time they switched off and the already eliminated Chileans got two goals back in the second half. They would have to wait twenty four hours to see if their 3-2 victory was enough. What happened next disgusted the world.
In Algeria it is known as the Anschluss (a reference to German, Austrian relations) and in German as Schande von Gijón (The Scandal of Gijon). The two sides knew that a 1-0 or 2-0 was enough for both sides to go through but a win for the Germans by a larger margin would mean curtains for Austria whilst a draw would see the West Germans go out. So when West Germany took an early lead, the two sides made no effort to score which looked to all the world like match fixing. The fans booed and whistled for the last hour of the game whilst chanting for Algeria and the Algerians protested but FIFA didn’t listen and the result stood. Both sides were heavily criticised in their own countries too during and after the match. This incident meant FIFA always made sure that the last group games were played simoustanly.
The goalscorer featured here is Lakhdar Belloumi and he was one of the great playmakers of his time. His reputation around the world suffers as he never played much outside his own country but he was close to a move to Juventus before he broke his leg in the mid eighties. He did manage to lead Algeria to success in the 1984 African Nations Cup which, alongside his one hundred caps, helped cement his status on the mother continent however.
West Germany would be involved in more controversy in the semi-final against France before falling to Italy in the final as we saw in yesterday’s entry.
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Austria v West Germany scandal