Football Conspiracies

1968 MEXICO 1970 by mezcal&tequila, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  Image by  mezcal&tequila 

1. ENGLAND TROUBLED – the 1970 World Cup

Someone was out to get England in 1970 as they set about trying to defend the World Cup. Things started to go awry when captain Bobby Moore was accused of stealing some jewellery from a shop in Bogota during the build up to the tournament, which was held in Mexico. After being questioned and held under house arrest, Moore was cleared of wrongdoing and able to catch up with his team-mates for the tournament. And on the eve of the quarter-final game with West Germany, Gordon Banks was struck down with food poisoning. Peter Bonetti took his place and the rest you know. England lost 3-2 and were on the next flight home. Alf Ramsey remarked that ‘of all the players to lose, we had to lose him’… Quite.

2.WHO’S FOR SALAD? – Lasagne wars at the North London derby

Never before has lasagne been cited as a reason for a club missing out on a Champions League spot – until Spurs checked into a leading hotel in London’s Docklands ahead of their final game of the season against West Ham. Paul Robinson and Michael Carrick were among the six players who ended up with dicky tummies after tucking into the savoury pasta treat. Spurs lost at Upton Park allowing Arsenal to nick fourth place. Food samples taken from the kitchen were inconclusive. Gunners fans, typically sympathetic, responded with: “Lasagne woah…Lasagne woah! We laughed ourselves to bits, when Tottenham had the s**ts…Lasagne woah!”

3. DODGY KEEPER, DODGY KEEPER – the 1978 World Cup

Argentina were ALWAYS going to win the 1978 World Cup, held in their own back yard. The Military Junta would have seen to it, even if a Peruvian keeper didn’t. Group B (of the second-stage) involved the hosts, Brazil, Poland and Peru. Brazil beat Peru 3-0 in the first fixture, while Cesar Luis Menotti’s side beat the Poles 2-0. Brazil and Argentina played out a 0-0 so both sides went into the final round of matches with three points. Argentina delayed the kick-off of their game with Peru to await the result of the Brazil-Poland match – which the south Americans won 3-1. This meant Argentina had to beat Peru by four clear goals. Coincidentally or not, Ramon Quiroga, Peru’s keeper at the 1978 World Cup, was born in Argentina. We’re not for one minute suggesting there was any foul play involved, but should you ever get a few minutes head over to Youtube and check out the goals he conceded – all SIX of the soft goals. Argentina met, and beat, Holland in the final. Rumour has it a shipment of wheat and grain was already heading for Peru by the time Daniel Passarella lifted the trophy…

4. PUTTING THE BOOT IN – Ronaldo and the 1998 World Cup

There was much shock when Ronaldo was left off the team-sheet handed in a couple of hours or so before the 1998 World Cup Final, with illness being cited. There was even greater surprise when his name was reinstated just before the game started, as rumours circulated that Nike, sponsors of the national side and player, insisted on his inclusion. The Brazilian was ineffectual against a strong France side, who swept aside their opponents to claim a first-ever World Cup win. Nike later denied any wrong doing. Hmmm…


Pep Guardiola’s side were lauded for so many different reasons but who knew they were actually aiding the smuggling of arms to Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s security forces ? In December 2011, Syrian television station Al Dunya TV claimed Guardiola was communicating coded instructions during an El Clasico meeting with Real Madrid, with players represented the smugglers and the ball’s position depicting the location of weapons. So, in essence, every time Lionel Messi passed the ball, it indicated that weapons had found the rebels in Dir Al-Zur. Oddly enough, nobody bothered asking Pep for his views.

6. CHINNY RECKON – Jimmy Hill again

AC favourite Jimmy Hill is back again. On the final day of the 1976-77 season the final relegation place in Division One was between Sunderland, Bristol City and Coventry side, whose chairman was the great man himself. The Sky Blues were playing Bristol at Highfield Road knowing they only had to better Sunderland’s result (against Everton) to stay up. Oh, hang on…what’s this? The game at Coventry is delayed because of crowd congestion? How unfortunate. Nay bother. All was fine until news came through that Sunderland had lost to Everton, a result the Chinmeister took great delight in relaying over the tannoy at Highfield Road. You can imagine how much effort the two sides in the late kick-off put in. The Wearsiders were duly relegated and the Chin became about as welcome in Sunderland as a black-and-white shirt.

7. URI HELPS A NATION – Bending it like Beckham

So here’s the drill. England are 1-0 up, seemingly cruising, thanks to Alan Shearer’s second-half goal. Happy days. And then Tony Adams fouls Gordon Durie in the box with just 14 minutes left. Up steps Gary McAllister to fire a weak penalty within range of David Seaman. England survive. TV replays reveal a slight movement of the ball just before the Scot struck it. Maverick illusionist and occasional spoon bender Uri Geller claimed he was responsible for the deviation of the ball. While Geller continued to brag to all of his mates, Paul Gascoigne scored the most iconic goal of his career at the other end of the pitch. England win 2-0.

8. “THOSE BLOODY GERMANS” – the 1982 World Cup

Forget stuttering Italy or the hard-nosed Germans – we all loved those Algerians in the 1982 World Cup. For starters, it was the notion that Africans could do well in a World Cup – we were used to ‘naive defending’ and humiliating scorelines. The Fennec Foxes had already concluded their first-round games, beating West Germany 2-1, losing to Austria, before beating Chile. They were on course to qualify for the second round of the World Cup, provided the West Germans didn’t win by a one or two goal margin the following day in their game against neighbours Austria. Horst Hrubesch put the Germans in front and then … nothing happened. Realising the scoreline suited both of them, West Germany and Austria effectively stopped playing, eliminating Algeria. Indeed, Hrubesch it was – certainly for Algeria.

© The Libero for Away Colours 2013

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