SATURDAY’S CHILD: 1966 and all that
History generally repeats itself, but sometimes it dons the garbs of fate and speaks ironically. The World Cup is full of both history and irony, and the fate that befell England in this World Cup 2010 might well be the work of the Fates, the three personifications of destiny in Greek mythology. In 1966 England beat West Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final played in England. According to Wikipedia” “With eleven minutes of extra time gone, Alan Ball put in a cross and Geoff Hurst swivelled and shot from close range. The ball hit the underside of the cross bar, bounced down – apparently on or just over the line – and was cleared. “The referee Gottfried Dienst was uncertain if it had been a goal and consulted his linesman Tofik Bakhramov from the USSR, who in a moment of drama indicated that it was.“After non-verbal communication, as they had no common language, the Swiss referee awarded the goal to the home team. The crowd and the audience of 400 million television viewers were left arguing whether the goal should have been given or not. “England’s third goal has remained controversial ever since the match. It was subsequently said that Bakhramov was upset because his country, the USSR, had lost the semi-final to Germany.“However, one source states that “Old World War II wounds may have been a factor – when asked to explain his call, Bakhramov said: ‘Stalingrad’.”Earlier this week, on Sunday, June 27, England lost 4 – 1 to Germany in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The New York Times headline put it succinctly: “Germany, And Referee, Leave England Speechless.” The Times continued: “Before half-time, with Germany ahead 2-1 and England seemingly in the ascendancy, the referee ruled out a clear tying goal. It was not even a close call. Frank Lampard’s lob over the goalkeeper struck the crossbar and fell 18 inches behind the goal line. “Neither the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda, nor his linesman, was sufficiently up with the play to award it. You can call it incompetent officiating. You can call as loud as you wish for goal-line technology. “But as England coach Fabio Capello complained moments after his team’s elimination, ‘The mistake of the linesman, and I have to say also the referee, is inexplicable because from the bench I saw the ball in the net. I no understand this decision.’ “Capello may struggle to find the right words in English, but his reasoning was sound. How, in 2010, when television technology exists to show from four different angles that a goal is a goal, can it be disallowed? “How can FIFA, which boasts of making $3.2 billion on the current four-year World Cup cycle, deny the right of players to be granted a goal when viewers from Bloemfontein to Timbuktu can see the unfairness?”Conspiracy theories are beginning to blossom like Brian Lara after his first century. What proof is being cited for a Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda, to disallow an England goal?Uruguay supposedly has a Nazi (hence German) connection. In World War I, Uruguay did not break relations with Germany and lift its neutrality policy until October 1917. Uruguayan author Hugo Fernandez Artucio in 1940 wrote a book about the Nazis in Uruguay and another on the Nazi underground in South America. The search for Dr Death and other Nazi war criminals included Uruguay. If you think these reactions are extreme, consider what happened when North Korea beat Italy in a first-round game in 1966. The winning goal was scored by Ahn Jung Whan, who played for Perugia, an Italian team. Nick Hornby wrote in the New Yorker: “The Italians went stereotypically nuts . . . Franco Frattini, the Italian minister for public offices, described the referee as ‘a disgrace, absolutely scandalous’.“The referee in question, Byron Moreno, of Ecuador, perhaps unwisely decided to snipe back. He suggested in effect that the accusations of bribery were a bit rich, coming as they did from a country not unfamiliar with the concept of the backhander. “The Rome prosecutor’s office, reacting to a complaint from an Italian consumer association, promptly opened an investigation into Moreno’s conduct . . . at one stage it seemed only a matter of time before a small flotilla of Italian gunships would set sail across the Atlantic to prepare the way for a full-scale invasion of Ecuador . . . “Luciano Gaucci, the president of the Perugia football club and therefore Ahn Jung Hwan’s boss, to add to the gaiety of nations announced that Ahn was fired. ‘That gentleman will never set foot in Perugia again,’ Gaucci said. ‘I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer’.” This is at least better than 1934 when Italy was the home team. The dictator Benito Mussolini declared that if Italy lost, the coach and the entire team would be killed.Italy won, and the captain of the losing team, Czechoslovakia’s goalkeeper-captain Planicka, said after the final: “Never have I been so happy to lose a match, because I saved a lot of lives.”• Tony Deyal was last seen saying that before the World Cup the BBC ran a programme called England: Going All The Way. They forgot to add a final four-letter word to the title – “Home”.