World Cup's Craziest Moments: Beauty and Brawls
Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the sixth installment. Read the others here.
The Battle of Santiago, Chile versus Italy, First Round 1962
The so called "Battle of Santiago" in the '62 tournament was, according to one sports announcer at the time, "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting, and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game." Watching it now, it often resembles football of the gridiron kind, rather than the supposedly "beautiful" form the rest of the world enjoys. This was less a football match, more a diplomatic incident.
Apparently Italian journalists had made some less-than-complimentary comments about Chilean women and the Chilean capital, Santiago, before the game. However, it's unlikely anyone expected the thuggery that quickly characterized what went on in the match.
Indeed, it's amazing that only two sendings off were dished out by English referee Ken Aston. Kung-fu kicks to the head, left hooks exchanged, brawling that continued after the final whistle. Chile eventually won 2 -0, but it was a victory overshadowed by the behavior of players from both sides. Aston would later comment, "I wasn't reffing a football match; I was acting as an umpire in military maneuvers." Interestingly, Aston would later invent the red and yellow card, his experiences in Santiago no doubt serving him well.
The First Cruyff Turn, Netherlands versus Sweden, First Round 1974
The Dutch in 1974 were perhaps the coolest World Cup side of all time. The Netherlands played something known as "Totaalvoetbal," or "Total Football," where any outfield player could take over the role of any other player in a team. A player could be as dainty as a Dutch tulip and as ironclad as a Rotterdam container ship.
The star of this team was attacking midfielder Johan Cruyff. Blessed with the cheekbones and flowing locks of an early '70s rock star, even in full sprint it appeared that Cruyff swaggered toward goal. He wore love beads when he played and had a habit of donning a shirt with only two black stripes along the sleeves, as opposed to Adidas' usual design that had three, worn by all the other Dutch players. (Cruyff had a sponsorship deal with Puma, you see.)
Poor Swedish defender Jan Olsson was the first to be left bewildered by a move that became known as "the Cruyf Turn" in international football. Feigning to cross before rolling the ball under him with his right foot, Cruyff left his opponent flat-footed and was able to play a ball into the penalty area. Like a great song, it has often been covered but rarely bettered.