82: The most amusingly disorganised World Cup ever

The 12th edition of the global game's get-together had more than its share of oopsies...

The draw specialists

Somebody had clearly been at the Rioja in Madrid before the World Cup draw. In a farcical series of events, the balls representing Peru and Chile were left out the draw completely, Scotland were put into the pot meant for Argentina and the cage containing the balls jammed, with one even falling out and splitting in half. Chaos ensued. Four years later, three young Mexican boys did a far better job.

New balls please...

Adidas introduced a new ball, the Tango Espana. Although undeniably a delight to look at, its reputed "technological advances" backfired somewhat. The new rubber inlaid seams tore easily, leading to what could only be described as exploding balls. Genuine leather orbs were never used in the World Cup again.

Location, location, location

The second round '˜Group of Death' -“ involving Italy, Brazil and Argentina - was played out at Espanyol'™s 43,000-capacity Estadio Sarria with fans clamouring desperately for tickets. Meanwhile, the lesser lights of Poland, Belgium and the Soviet Union rattled round in a half-filled Nou Camp -“ capacity 121,749. The Belgium-USSR game only drew a pitiful 45,000.

Italy's squad at their vocal best...

Italy's squad at their vocal best...

Silence please

The media fell foul of the Italy team after a series of unfounded rumours spread in the gutter press. One slur suggested that star striker Paolo Rossi and left-back Antonio Cabrini were having an affair, another claimed that the players have been seen "shooting up drugs". The squad decided on a media blackout - silenzio stampa -“ and the resulting siege mentality didn'™t do their football much harm...

Strops: Productive

Nobody emerged well from the Kuwait vs France game, but ref Myroslav Stupar had a particular shocker. After the  Ukrainian awarded a controversial goal to the French,  Kuwaiti FA president Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah stormed onto the pitch in protest. The pressure he exerted -“ along with the Kuwaiti team'™s 15-minute refusal to continue playing -“ led to Stupar overruling the strike. He lost his international refereeing credentials as a result.

Did you know?

* Scotland made their fifth World Cup appearance without advancing beyond the first round. It wouldn't be their last.

* Algeria became the first African side to defeat European opposition in World Cup history, after beating West Germany 2-1.

* This was the first (and only) World Cup where national anthems were played on record, rather than by a live band.

* A record 109 teams entered the initial qualifying phase of the tournament. This dropped to 105 after the withdrawal of Ghana, Iran, Libya and Uganda.

* Argentina and England entered the World Cup in a state of armed conflict over the Falkland Islands. The Argentine military junta was under immense pressure and had invaded the Malvinas in a bid to regain popularity. "Perhaps our trip to Spain should have been cancelled," pondered Mario Kempes after the tournament.

* Italian defender Claudio Gentile was nicknamed Gadaffi because he was born in Libya. "He was like a hunting dog," says Mario Kempes about the ferocious man-marker. "If you went to the toilet, he'd follow you there."

* Germany complained that their travel schedule gave them a disadvantage in the final. Hampered by an airport staff strike (imagine that) after their semi-final against France went to extra-time and penalties, they didn'™t fly out of Seville until 4am. "We had one chance in the final after missing a night'™s sleep," said Paul Breitner. "To score first and then defend."


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