The disgrace of Gijón
Now that the group stage is over and the knock outs are around the corner we take a look back at why the last game in the groups stage is always played at the same time.
The year is 1982, the nation of Spain is ready to host its first World cup. People come to the stadiums in great amounts causing them to be overcrowded. Among the favorites were then champions Argentina, Italy and West-Germany. This blog is all about this last nation and in particular their last group stage game...
West-Germany, as previously mentioned, were considered absolute favorites (among others) to take the cup home. The Germans seeded in group 2 with Austria, Algeria and Chile. To everyone's surprise the European champions (West-Germany) lost their game to World Cup debutantes Algeria. Austria was able to beat Chile. On match day 2 Algeria was not able to stunt again, the lost 2-0 to the Autrians. West-Germany did what they needed to do and defeated Chile. Going into the last game of the group stage Austria was top of the group with 4 points, followed by West-Germany and Algeria on 2. In last place stood Chile with zero.
(Note: In 1982 a victory only gave you 2 points in contrast to todays 3 points for a win)
Algeria-Chile was the first game of round 3. The Algerians were 3-0 up by halftime ,but gave away 2 goals in the second half. The match ended 3-2. Fast forward one day, the date is 25 June 1982. Austria and West-Germany faced off in Gijón. Because Algeria already played their match, both teams knew which result would get them both to the next round (a 1-0 win by W-G), and well the rest is history ... The Germans started the match very aggressive and after ten minutes Hrubesch opened the score. This 1-0 lead was followed by a sudden drop in pressure and attacking intentions. The teams were happy with the result and were not planning to score again. Spectators around the world were shocked. The West-German commentator refused to commentate the game any longer, while the Austrian commentator asked people to turn off their television. The match ended in a 1-0 victory for West-Germany and both teams advanced. The disgrace of Gijón was complete.
As a result, FIFA decided that from Mexcio 1986 forward all last games of the group stage would be played at the same, so that something like that could never happen again!