Why do last group matches at the FIFA World Cup start atthe same time? If you have found youself asking this question, then the short answer is ‘Match Fixing’ and if you ask what prompted such a decision, the answer then would be the ‘disgrace of gijon’.
At the 1982 edition of the FIFA World Cup, played in Spain, the last Group 2 encounter between West Germany and Austria saw Algeria being dumped out after an orchastrated result between the former two team being played out at the El Molinon stadium in Gijon.
Algeria had gotten a surprise 2-1 win over West Germany on the opening day, marking the first occassion that an African team defeated an Eurpeoan opponent at he grandest stage. Algeria went onto to lose 0-2 to Austria and then beating Chile 3-2 in their last game, collecting 4 points and a cumalitive goal difference of zero.
With Algeria playing their game against Chile first, ahed of the all-European encounter between West Germany and Austria, they knew what result they needed to progress together to the next round together. A win by one or two goals would mean both West Germany and Austria go through, knocing out Algeria.
In the last game, West Germany got the opening goal from Horst Hrubesch after some intent attacking football. With that, both teams settled down into passing football, rarely venturing into their opposition’s half.
It was reported that spectators t the ground were furious at the display and accused both teams of fixing the outcome. FIFA, howver, ruled that neither team had broken any rules.
With West Germany’s 1–0 victory, thegroup ended with them, Austria and Algeria all on four points from three games. But West Germany and Austria progressed to the next round on by the virtue of goal difference and at the expense of Algeria.
With that reuslt of the match in the rear-fiew mirror, subsequent editions of the FIFA World Cups from 1986 onward, the last games of the groups stage have always started at the same time.
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