Why FIFA World Cup matches start at the same time
The reason for FIFA World Cup matches starting at the same time is due to historic scandals that have occurred in famous matches. Having multiple matches begin at the same time eliminates the problem where the final matches outcome can be manipulated to force a specific outcome within a group.
Hopefully after this year’s string of bad calls resulting in the illusion of a few goals (England’s goal vs. Germany, and U.S. goal vs. Slovenia), there will be some changes to the rules to incorporate some form of instant replay and/or a challenge system.
West Germany v Austria (1982)
West Germany versus Austria was a 1982 FIFA World Cup game that is widely believed to have changed the rules of future World Cup tournaments. In German the match is known as Nichtangriffspakt von Gijón (lit. Non-aggression pact of Gijón) or Schande von Gijón (lit. Shame of Gijón). In Algeria it is known as the Anschluss.
The match was the last game of the first-round Group 2. Going into the game were an exceptional set of circumstances, where a win by one or two goals for West Germany would result in both sides qualifying, at the expense of Algeria.
Although the teams were regarded as rivals (Austria beat West Germany 3–2 in a remarkable game in the previous 1978 World Cup), the game is widely seen as being fixed, with both sides having an unspoken agreement to play for a 1–0 German win. As a result, FIFA ruled that in the future both final group matches must start at the same time, so as to prevent such an event ever occurring again[a]
Other follies have plagued FIFA over the years such as the CONCACAF match between Grenada and Barbados in 1994.
Shell Caribbean Cup 1994
Grenada went into the match with a superior goal difference, meaning that Barbados needed to win by two goals to progress to the finals. The trouble was caused by two things. First, unlike most group stages in football competitions, the organizers had deemed that all games must have a winner. All games drawn over 90 minutes would go to sudden death extra time. Secondly and most importantly, there was an unusual rule which stated that in the event of a game going to sudden death extra time the goal would count double, meaning that the winner would be awarded a two goal victory.
Barbados was leading 2-0 until the 83rd minute, when Grenada scored, making it 2-1. Approaching the dying moments, the Barbadians realized they had no chance of scoring past Grenada’s mass defense, so they deliberately scored an own goal to tie the game at 2-2. This would send the game into extra time and give them another half hour to break down the defense. The Grenadians realized what was happening and attempted to score an own goal as well, which would put Barbados back in front by one goal and would eliminate Barbados from the competition.
However, the Barbados players started defending their opposition’s goal to prevent them from doing this, and during the game’s last five minutes, the fans were treated to the incredible sight of Grenada trying to score in either goal. Barbados also defended both ends of the pitch, and held off Grenada for the final five minutes, sending the game into extra time. In extra time, Barbados notched the game-winner, and, according to the rules, was awarded a 4-2 victory, which put them through to the next round.[b]
1. “England vs Germany referee smiles when asked about Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal”. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/06/28/england-vs-germany-referee-smiles-when-asked-about-frank-lampard-s-disallowed-goal-115875-22366931. June 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
2. “USA Slovenia World Cup controversy”. http://sports.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978311828. June 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
3. “Austria shirt/kits World Cup 1978 and 1982″. switchimageproject.com. November 20, 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
4. Spurling, Jon (2010). Death or Glory The Dark History of the World Cup. p. 67. ISBN 978-1905326-80-8.
5. Football Follies: A soccer team advanced in a cup match by deliberately scoring against itself.: snopes.com article.
6. Longmore, Andrew. in Sport “Absurd Cup Rule Obscures Football’s Final Goal.” 1 February 1994.
7. The Guardian. “Sixth Column.” 5 February 1994 (Sports; p. 17). Made of CFU (Caribbean Football Union)
Both situations originally recorded from wikipedia: