De Futebol The Battle of Santiago

The World Cup is happening in a few months. Here is this story in the Guardian Simon Burnton.” It took two days for highlights of the match that was christened, even during the commentary, the Battle of Santiago, to be flown from South America and broadcast in Britain. Two days in which the game became, in its own brutal way, legendary, spoken of in ways which must have sent anyone with a combined interest in football and mild gore into a frenzy of excitement. “The match is universally agreed by observers as the ugliest, most vicious and disgraceful in soccer history,” wrote Frank McGhee in the Mirror. “If you think that is exaggerating, watch the film on TV. But send the kids to bed first – it deserves a horror certificate!”

David Coleman’s introduction to the BBC’s broadcast is rightly legendary. “Good evening,” he said. “The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football in the history of the game. This is the first time these countries have met; we hope it will be the last. The national motto of Chile reads, By Reason or By Force. Today, the Chileans weren’t prepared to be reasonable, the Italians only used force, and the result was a disaster for the World Cup. If the World Cup is going to survive in its present form something has got to be done about teams that play like this. Indeed, after seeing the film tonight, you at home may well think that teams that play in this manner ought to be expelled immediately from the competition.”

But though the Battle of Santiago is remembered as a uniquely lawless encounter, in fact it was one of many in a particularly violent tournament. Before the match had even been played the Chilean newspaper Clarin had declared it less a World Cup and more a World War. “The tournament shows every sign of developing into a violent bloodbath,” wrote the Express on the morning of the match. “Reports read like battlefront despatches. Italy v Germany was described as ‘wrestling and warfare”. Players were compelled to leap away from the ball to survive. Football was forgotten as players sought to destroy each other.”

The eight games played over the first two days of the tournament featured four red cards, three broken legs, a fractured ankle and some cracked ribs. The first match in England’s group, between Argentina and Bulgaria, was won by the south Americans thanks to what was described as a display of “hacking, tripping, pushing and any other dirty tricks”. After the game, in which the Spanish referee Juan Gardeazabal awarded 69 free-kicks at the rate of one every 78 seconds, the Bulgarian Todor Diev displayed a cut nose and legs decorated with stud marks and said Argentina were “like boxers”.

In Russia’s opening game, against Yugoslavia, Eduard Dubinski’s leg was broken in a challenge with Muhamed Mujic. The Yugoslav was not sent off, but his association was sufficiently dismayed by the foul to voluntarily suspend him for an entire year. “It is lamentable that Fifa are not equally honest,” wrote the Express. “They have ignored their own ruling that any offenders be dealt with immediately after the offence. With no action against the few out-and-out villains the ugly situation has been encouraged to spread.”

“It became clear after only two days that most teams were so anxious to avoid an early return home that they had forgotten football was only a game, and the World Cup its greatest shop window,” wrote the Telegraph’s football correspondent, Donald Saunders, in his book on the tournament published later that year. “From all four centres came reports of violence, ill temper, serious injury, and precious little of the artistic soccer to be expected of the world’s leading professionals.”

Italy had behaved badly enough in their first match, but now the stakes were even higher: they would have to deal with the host nation and their fanatical support in a game they could not afford to lose. As for Chile, the Observer had declared that “the patriotism here for the national team is astonishing”, and their fervour had risen a couple of notches when word reached Santiago of a series of articles written in the Italian newspapers La Nazione and Corriere della Sera shortly before the World Cup began, which variously described the idea of their hosting it as “pure madness”, their capital as a backwater where “the phones don’t work, taxis are as rare as faithful husbands, a cable to Europe costs an arm and a leg and a letter takes five days to turn up”, and its population as prone to “malnutrition, illiteracy, alcoholism and poverty”. “Santiago is terrible,” Corrado Pizzinelli wrote in La Nazione. “Entire neighbourhoods are given over to open prostitution.” The journalists involved were forced to flee the country, while an Argentinian scribe mistaken for one of them in a Santiago bar was beaten up and hospitalised.

Worried about the potential for violence at the game, and with the Italian FA having complained about the original appointment of a Spanish official for a match involving fellow hispanophones, Fifa parachuted in the experienced English referee Ken Aston. The Italians weren’t enormously impressed by that, either – Aston had already taken charge of Chile’s first game of the tournament.

From the start Chileans spat in the faces of Italians, they poked and kicked and provoked, but when the Italians retaliated it was they who were punished. The first foul was awarded after 12 seconds, the first sending-off after four minutes. Giorgio Ferrini, the Italian involved, refused to leave the field and play was held up for 10 minutes until armed policemen frogmarched him to the dressing-rooms. “The pitch quickly became a battlefield as players forgot the ball and concentrated on kicking the nearest opponent,” wrote the Mirror. Highlights included Leonel Sánchez, son of a professional boxer, breaking the nose of Italy’s captain Humberto Maschio with a left hook and getting away with it, and then landing another blow on the Italian right-half Mario David, who was sent off for retaliating. To add insult to, well, more insults, Sánchez took the free-kick from which Jaime Ramírez gave Chile a 73rd-minute lead, against nine men, and Jorge Toro added a late second.

“I had my back to the incident at the time,” Aston insisted of Sánchez’s nosebreaking punch. “If the referee or linesman sees nothing, nothing can be done. I’m sure the linesman did see it, but he refused to tell me.” The man patrolling the nearest touchline was Leo Goldstein, who many felt had been given the chance to officiate at a World Cup only because of his unique backstory – he was a Holocaust survivor who had literally been marching towards the gas chambers when one of the guards asked if anyone was able to referee a football match. Despite a complete lack of experience he volunteered, survived the remainder of the war, emigrated to America and continued refereeing thereafter. “I was stuck with a Mexican and a little American,” said Aston of his assistants. “They weren’t very good, so it became almost me against the 22 players.”

“We weren’t throwing the punches, we were taking them. We Italians were the victims, not the aggressors,” said David, many year later. “Sánchez broke Maschio’s nose and the referee said nothing, but instead sent off Ferrini who was trying to take revenge on Sánchez but didn’t even touch him. Then their goalkeeper passed the ball to Sánchez, who sat on it and held it between his legs. In order to kick the ball I had to kick him a little bit too, and when he got up he punched me, but the referee pretended nothing had happened. Then I challenged Sánchez with an outstretched leg and caught him in the shoulder, and the shameless Aston sent me off too. I stood at the entrance to the tunnel to watch the rest of the game, and I can assure you that even with nine men we fought to the end.”

“The Italians could not understand – and neither can I – why Sánchez had been allowed to remain on the field despite a passable imitation of Rocky Marciano, when one of their number had been banished for a less serious and far less obvious offence,” wrote Jimmy Hill in the Observer. “From that moment the last semblance of control left both players and officials. It was an appalling decision to allow a player to remain on the field after such a blatant disregard for the laws. The players will have to shoulder most of the blame, but the officials must face up to their responsibility for making this grotesque decision.”

“I expected a difficult match, but not an impossible one,” Aston said. “I just had to do the best I could. It did cross my mind to abandon the match, but I couldn’t be responsible for the safety of the Italian players if I did. I thought that then and I still think it now. I tell you one thing: I didn’t add on any stoppage time.”

The hatred between the nations boiled over. In Chile, Italians found themselves banned from bars, restaurants and even supermarkets, and the squad’s training camp was placed under armed guard. Jorge Pica, a senior member of the Chilean FA, launched further controversy by alleging that the Italians were drugged. “They seemed to go on the field only with the intention of injuring the Chileans,” he said. “It was like a rodeo. Frankly, I think they were doped. Now I can see the necessity for laboratory tests on players after matches.” Meanwhile the Italians submitted an official complaint against Aston’s biased officiating, described the Chileans as “cannibals” and in Rome the army was sent in to protect the Chilean consulate.

Criticism of Aston’s handling of the match was, inevitably, most extreme in Italy – “I remember that one journalist called him ‘an unmentionable English vermin,’ and I totally agree with him,” said David – but it was not confined there. The former referee and honorary president of the German FA, Peco Bauwens, said “I have never seen an English referee so weak”. “I have self-respect,” insisted the Englishman. “Otherwise I would have taken the easy way out and abandoned the game.”

With the World Cup still bedevilled by violence – even while the Battle of Santiago was being played Yugoslavia were contesting “another ugly brawl” against Uruguay in Arica, featuring two sendings-off of its own – Aston and Bob Davidson, the Scottish official who had refereed Italy’s first match, went to see the Fifa president, Sir Stanley Rous. “All referees who saw this game and who have seen the general vicious malice in most matches want to tell Rous they haven’t come all these miles for all this time to handle this sort of stuff,” said Davidson.

“The World Cup competition is heading for ruin and disgrace unless Sir Stanley Rous and his committee act quickly and ruthlessly to clean it up,” wrote the Mirror. “Chile today is a country of rumour and threats.” Rous heard the referees’ demand that miscreants be dealt with in the strongest possible way, and assured them that was his intention. They left happy, but then Fifa suspended Ferrini for just one match and gave David and Sánchez nothing by reprimands. Still, representatives of all 16 teams were called to the Carrera Hotel in Santiago, also the site of the draw and later of the gala celebration in honour of the victors, where Rous demanded an improvement in standards. “What will the children think when they see the abominable way the top players behave? We have to save the reputation of this tournament,” he said. “This is not about victory at all costs.”

But Fifa’s crackdown was laughably half-hearted. Four years later Pelé, having been injured in Brazil’s second match in Chile, was brutally kicked out of the 1966 World Cup. “I have heard it said since, and I firmly believe it, that Sir Stanley Rous instructed referees to go easy on the ‘virile’ game played by the European teams,” he wrote in his autobiography, “with the result that [they] did everything they could to physically cripple me.”

Even in Chile there was little improvement. In the semi-final between Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia the Swiss referee was forced to call the captains together with the game, according to the Express, “developing into a brawl”, and “warn them to cut out the rough stuff”. In the other semi-final, between Chile and Brazil, two men were sent off. The outstanding player of the tournament, Brazil’s Garrincha, was one of them, his head cut open by one of the many missiles thrown in his direction as he left the field. After the game he wept in the dressing-room. “OK, I was sent off,” he said, “but all afternoon I am kicked. There is a limit to the time when a man must be a man. When I was kicked I struck back. Maybe I was wrong but I am prepared to face what may come.”

The Brazilian FA, however, were not. His availability for the final lay in the hands of a Fifa disciplinary committee, at which the match officials would give evidence. But first the referee, the Peruvian Arturo Yamazaki, received a phone call from his country’s president requesting that he tone down his testimony, and made Garrincha’s offence sound positively trifling. Then the linesman, Uruguay’s Esteban Marino, on whose say-so Yamazaki had acted in the first place and whose evidence was to be crucial, failed to turn up at all.

“He just disappeared. It was like something out of an Agatha Christie novel,” wrote the Brazilian journalist Argeu Affonso, who was covering the tournament. “It was Agatha Christie football. He just disappeared, and nobody knew where he’d gone.” It turned out that the Brazilian World Cup referee John Etzel had been given $10,000 in cash by his FA to pass on to his colleague in return for his disappearance. Without him Fifa found that they had insufficient evidence to ban Garrincha, who played as Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final. “It was me who won the World Cup,” Etzel later claimed, and he got more than that: it later transpired that he had given Marino only half of the cash, and kept the rest for himself. A fitting end to a remarkably lawless occasion.

De Futebol Brasil wins and Chile is out of the 2018 World Cup

Brasil blows out Chile 3-0. The loss killed Chile’s shot a 2018 World Cup spot. The loss drops the Chileans into sixth place with 26 points. Peru has 26 points tambem. Peru is a plus one while Chile is a minus one.

Chile is out and Peru is on to the playoff round of the 2018 World Cup.

The Daily Mail:” Alexis Sanchez and Chile will have to watch the World Cup from home after being dumped out of qualifying on a night of high drama in South America.

With all eyes on Lionel Messi and Argentina, who faced the real prospect of missing out on the tournament but ultimately made it through after coming from behind to beat Ecuador, Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus struck for a Brazil side long assured of their place to ensure Chile were the major casualties as they missed out on a play-off on goal difference as they were pipped by Peru.

Paulinho profited from an error by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to poke home the first before Manchester City man Jesus found an open net just two minutes later following a stunning piece of skill from Neymar.

Chile could find no answer as they desperately searched for a route to Russia, with Bravo sent up in search of a goal, but as play broke down Brazil cleared to Jesus who beat the Chilean goalkeeper in a foot race to find an empty net.

The back-to-back Copa America winners sunk to their knees and lay flat out on the turf at the final whistle, with the team ranked ninth in the world facing up to the prospect of having to watch next summer’s football festival from home.

The hosts went into the game as the only South American side to have punched their ticket and had the better of the opening exchanges in Sao Paulo and spent the majority of the half on the front foot, but only really tested Claudio Bravo in the Chile goal when Neymar scrambled through and forced the Manchester City goalkeeper to get down well to save at his near post.

Lionel Messi’s first-half rescue act for Argentina, which saw the Barcelona man strike twice to turn things around and give them the lead in Ecuador after conceding early, left Chile in a precarious position as they slipped to fourth, knowing falling behind would see them down to fifth and facing the prospect of a play-off against New Zealand.

But they stood firm heading into half-time and managed some late pressure on the Brazil back-line without ever forcing Ederson into action in the Brazil goal.

Chile, though were in serious trouble as the hour mark approached, with Brazil scoring twice to cast major doubts over their place in Russia. First, Paulinho profited after Claudio Bravo spilled a Dani Alves free-kick into his path, before Gabriel Jesus found an open goal when slotted in by Neymar just minutes later.

As it stood Chile were missing out completely, but the picture changed again when Colombia took the lead against Peru, which saw Sanchez and Co jump back into the play-off place.

That place was again lost with 10 minutes to play as Peru grabbed an equaliser against Colombia and, with Chile desperately looking for a leveler, Jesus slotted the second as he beat Bravo in a foot race after the visiting goalkeeper had been sent forward for a corner.

De Futebol Messi’s hat trick leads Argentina to a berth in the 2018 World Cup

Lionel Messi led the way with a hat trick to lead Argentina’s destruction of Ecuador 3-1. Couple this win with Brasil’s shut out 3-0 win over Chile and Peru and Colombia tied one all gave Argentinos third place and a spot in the 2018 World Cup.

Peru earns a playoff spot with their one all tie against Colombia.

Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Colombia have their tickets punched for the World Cup.

The Guardian wrote on the Argentina win:” Argentina conceded after just 37 seconds in their must-win game against Ecuador, but Lionel Messi came to the rescue as his side booked their place at next summer’s World Cup.

The No10 hit a brace in the first half in Quito and capped off a stellar performance as he completed his hat-trick with a stunning chip over keeper Maximo Banguera just after the hour mark.

Romario Ibarra stunned the away fans – and perhaps all of South America – as he nodded on a ball lofted high into the danger area and sloppy defence from Argentina allowed the Ecuadorian space to slot it in past Sergio Romero in the opening minute.

But Messi, who is now the all-time leading goalscorer in South American qualifying, played a deft one-two with Angel di Maria to level things up after 12 minutes and then put his side in front eight minutes later with a strike from just inside the box.

Ecuador continued to press in search of an equaliser as Argentina failed to kill the game off, allowing the home side to attack well into the second half.

It was a moment of brilliance which proved to be the difference. The Argentina talisman took the ball in space about 40 yards out from goal, weaved his way to the edge of the box and was able to lob Banguera – six yards off his line – as he lost his balance and fell to the floor.

Argentina were looking in danger of not making the 2018 World Cup in Russia going into the final group games, following a torrid campaign in which they had only scored 16 goals in 17 games.

Low points were numerous, and a 2-0 loss to Bolivia in March saw the end of Edgardo Bauza’s short stint as boss as Jorge Sampaoli took the reins.

Since then, three draws put Argentina on the brink of not making the World Cup for the first time since 1970. They then travelled to Quito – a place where they have not won since 2001 – but bagged all three points to guarantee a trip to Russia.

De Futebol Chile is a step closer to making the 2018 World Cup

Chile scored a late goal to beat Ecuador 2-1. Alexis Sanchez nailed the match winner in the 86th minute.

The Daily Mail:” Chile survived a late scare to beat Ecuador 2-1 on Thursday and keep alive their hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia as they moved into third-place in the 10-team South American qualifying group.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia with the fifth-placed side facing Oceania champions New Zealand in a two-legged play-off.

With just one game remaining, Brazil are the only South American side to have guaranteed their spot, with Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Peru all dependent on results in Tuesday’s final round of matches.

Copa America champions Chile have perhaps the toughest task in their final match, against Brazil in Sao Paulo.

The five-times world champions have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home.

Chile have failed to sparkle this year, losing three of their last four qualifiers before Thursday.

However, Tigres striker Eduardo Vargas helped them back to their winning ways with a goal after 22 minutes.

Alexis Sanchez stole the ball on the edge of the box and fed midfielder Jorge Valdivia and his pass left Vargas in space 12 yards out to crash the ball past keeper Maximo Banguera.

Romario Ibarra equalised for Ecuador with eight minutes remaining but Sanchez was on hand three minutes later when Banguera could only parry a shot on the edge of the six-yard box.

Sanchez then had the simplest of tasks slipping the ball home for the winner.

De Futebol-Argentina in danger of not making the 2018 World Cup

Argentina and Peru tied nil-nil.

The Daily Mail:” Argentina and Lionel Messi are on the verge of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1970, stumbling to a 0-0 draw against Peru before a capacity crowd in Buenos Aires.

Only one round of qualifying remains in South America.

Argentina, the runner-up to Germany in the World Cup three years ago in Brazil, plays on Tuesday against Ecuador in the thin air of Quito in the Andes.

The Argentines are in sixth place, with the top four teams advancing automatically. The fifth-place team can advance by winning a playoff against New Zealand.

Brazil has already qualified, and drew 0-0 against Bolivia on Thursday. Brazil has 38 points, followed by: Uruguay (28), Chile (26), Colombia (26), Peru (25), Argentina (25) and Paraguay (24).

Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia are eliminated.

It’s too close to call. But Uruguay is expected to get through the final round on Tuesday. After that, four teams are chasing the two automatic spots.

That will leave two teams trying to reach the playoff, which looks like Argentina’s only route. It must win at 9,350 feet in Quito and get some help.

Argentine will require all the luck they can get after a disappointing night in front of their home supporters.

Their players, led by Messi, all trudged off the pitch at full-time. Every single of them appeared disappointed with the outcome and know their destiny is now out of their hands heading into next week and the crucial match against Ecuador.

It is a game they really must win if they are to stand any realistic chance of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup.

De Futebol Brasil-Bolivia tie nil-nil

Brasil and Bolivia tied nil-nil in the high altitude of La Paz. Brasileiros are the top dog with 38 points.

Globo Esportes wrote:” com a Bolívia na altitude de La Paz, nesta quinta-feira, pela penúltima rodada das Eliminatórias da Copa, em um duelo que teve o goleiro Lampe como grande destaque. O atacante Gabriel Jesus, que viu três finalizações suas pararem no boliviano, deu parabéns ao rival após a partida. Apesar do placar igual, o jogador do Manchester City disse que a seleção brasileira mostrou mais uma vez seu comprometimento mesmo já classificada para a Copa.

– Três chances que não costumo errar. De cabeça ainda estou treinando, aprimorando, mas não posso errar, eu sei. Fui lá e falei para ele parabéns pelas defesas. A gente sabia que não seria fácil, tivemos chances claras, mas não conseguimos ampliar para gol. Saímos daqui de cabeça erguida, porque a gente batalhou, correu e conseguiu segurar a equipe deles – disse.

Ao todo, a seleção brasileira contou com onze oportunidades de gol, parando ou em Lampe ou sofrendo com a altitude de 3640 metros de La Paz, a capital boliviana. Gabriel Jesus admitiu o cansaço por conta da geografia em sue primeiro duelo em um cenário como este.

– Senti um pouco de cansaço, é normal. Primeira vez que jogo em altura assim. Pega, é normal. Conseguimos jogar, colocar o ritmo. Infelizmente, a bola não entrou hoje. É descansar para que nos próximos jogos conseguimos fazer outro belo jogo e marcar os gols. O físico pega bastante. O domínio da bola é em relação ao campo, que não estava legal, mas não podemos reclamar, é entrar em campo e jogar, enfrentar as dificuldades.

O Brasil fecha as Eliminatórias na última rodada (18ª) diante do Chile, na arena do Palmeiras, em São Paulo, na próxima terça-feira, às 20h30 (de Brasília). Líder isolado e já garantido no Mundial da Rússia, uma vitória confirma a ótima campanha do time comandado por Tite na competição, cujo aproveitando é de 74.5 % até agora, com 38 pontos.

De Futebol

Bolivia upset the apple cart with a 1-0 win over Chile.

The Daily Mail:” Chile fell to a 1-0 defeat in Bolivia as their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup suffered a major blow on Tuesday evening.

Juan Carlos Arce scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot just before the hour mark after Chile’s Marcelo Diaz was penalised for a handball in the area.

Substitute Alejandro Chumacero was sent off for the hosts for a second booking in added time but Bolivia held on in the high altitude of La Paz.

The result means Alexis Sanchez’s side sit precariously in the final automatic qualification spot in the South American section – level on points with Argentina who host Venezuela later on Tuesday night.

Bolivia had won their last two home matches and started on the front foot, with Arce firing just wide following Pablo Escobar’s short corner in the sixth minute.

The hosts then failed to take advantage of a Chile error when Marcelo Martins missed the target with a header after Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo blundered in his attempt to clear a corner.

Bravo was called into action to deny Diego Bejarano while Juan Valverde placed a header just wide as Bolivia dominated the first half.

Chile struggled to carve out openings and their first real chance came towards the end of the opening period when Arturo Vidal’s effort was blocked wide from six yards out.

And they fell behind when Diaz blocked Flores’ effort with his arm and the referee awarded a spot-kick – Arce stepped up to drill a powerful effort past Bravo.

Chile had a penalty shout of their own turned down when Jordy Candia appeared to block Esteban Paredes’ header with his arm but the referee rejected appeals.

Bolivia substitute Chumacero was sent off for a second booking in the closing stages after kicking out at Pablo Hernandez but the match ended in a deserving win for the home side.

It’s Chile’s second successive loss and leaves them sitting precariously in fourth position above Argentina on goal difference.

The victory does nothing for Bolivia’s chances however – they have no hope of qualifying for Russia 2018.