Six most politically influenced matches in World Cup history

Published: November 30,2022 06:44 PM

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Most politically heated matches in World Cup history

Six most politically influenced matches in World Cup history

*East Germany (1)-(0) West Germany, 1974,

In the Second World War, Germany was a fractured nation, divided into east and west fractions. West Germany was the superior football team compared to its neighbours, and East Germany did not even qualify for the tournament until 1974 when it was held in West Germany.

They were drawn into the same group and both of them had qualified before their head to head clash. East Germany pulled out an improbable 1-0 victory, topping the group in the process.

West Germany would go on to have the last laugh though, as they beat Holland to clinch the trophy. The Berlin Wall was felled in 1989 and the two sides finally united in 1990, after West Germany clinched yet another title.

*Angola (0)-(1) Portugal, 2006

Angola gained independence in 1975 freeing themselves from Portuguese rule. The Portuguese had ruled over Angola for more than 500 years, which ended after a long freedom struggle.

Both these nations met in a friendly in 2001, but the match was nowhere near friendly. Angola took their rage out and the match had to be abandoned in the 67th minute after the minnows received their fourth red card.

They were drawn in the same group at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and many expected their clash to be just as heated. However, the match was kind of dull.

*USA (1) - (2) Iran, 1998

This match is often touted as the 'most politically charged game in World Cup history.' The Iranian revolution took place in 1979 which ousted Mohammad Reza Shah, who had the tremendous backing of the USA.

Since then the relations between the nations were quite hostile, and they were ominously drawn in Group F in the 1998 World Cup.

The match kicked off and Iran ran out 2-1 winners, eliminating the USA from the tournament to spark wild celebrations. But the match was a boon for their relations, as Iran gave each USA player a white flower as a sign of friendship.

*England (1) - (2) Argentina, 1986

These two nations had fought the Falkland war just four years prior to 1986. British troops had seized control of the Falkland Islands after an invasion by Argentina. The war lasted for more than two months, and it took more than 900 lives in the process. Four years on, the war was a distant memory but the wounds still lingered, especially with the South American nation. The feelings have not dissipated even now, as Argentina unfurled a banner showing their right to the Islands in a warm-up game in 2014.

The victory in 1986 was a small revenge for Argentina after their losses in 1982, and Maradona saw to it that it won't be forgotten.

This quarter-final match is famous for the two goals which Diego Maradona scored to knock out England. The first was the infamous 'Hand of God' goal and the second was a result of an astounding mazy dribble which is often dubbed as the 'Goal of the Century'.

*Italy (3)-(1) France, 1938

The 1938 tournament in France was the last one to be played before a 12 year-long break due to the World War.

Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini pledged his support to General Franco in the Spanish Civil War, which in turn angered the French. The Italian side faced a greatly hostile reception in France, greeted by an anti-Fascist environment.

The players wore black armbands and did Fascist salutes before each match, greeted by a crescendo of hate and abuse each time. Italy faced France in the quarter-finals, and the tension was sky-high.

Italy eventually ran out 3-1 winners, on their way to a consecutive World Cup crown.

*Switzerland (2) - (1) Serbia, 2018

Switzerland and Serbia will battle for Group G's last spot in the knockout stage on Friday in a rematch of the 2018 World Cup clash that could reignite political tensions between the teams.

Switzerland, on three points, looks well-placed to join Brazil in the last 16. A win over Serbia would guarantee the Swiss a spot in next stage, while a draw would also be enough unless Cameroon pull off an upset win against Brazil, which would mean goal difference would be a determining factor.

Switzerland emerged victorious, 2-1 with Xherdan Shaqiri scoring a 90th minute screamer.