Women’s football has come a long way since Richard Keys and Andy Gray once spent 20 minutes taking the piss out of a female lino when they had time to kill on Super Sunday. It’s now become big business and this summer’s World Cup in France is set to be the biggest extravaganza in the history of the women’s game setting a precedent for years to come.
Here at Paddy Power HQ we also think that this tournament will not have the controversies that have been synonymous with the men’s equivalent since its inception in 1930. In other words, we are pretty confident you won’t see anyone…
DOING A KUWAIT
Back in 1982, Kuwait reached the World Cup Finals for the first time and in their group game against France, the President of the Kuwaiti Football Federation, Price Fahid, was so incensed that a French goal had been allowed to stand that he went down on to the pitch ordering his players to walk off claiming they had stopped because of a whistle they’d apparently heard in the crowd which they believed, was the referee blowing for an infringement.
The further threat of stopping oil supplies to their opponents did the trick, however, and the goal was sensationally chalked off. France ended up winning the game 4-1. Now that Theresa May is stepping down from her role as leader and is de-mob happy, can you imagine the outgoing PM ordering Phil Neville to take his England players off due to the fact that she didn’t like the way Gianni Infantino looked at her in the VIP area? Not a chance.
DOING A SCHUMACHER
Staying with the 1982 World Cup, it’s hard to see us witnessing a repeat of German goalkeeper Harald “Toni” Schumacher’s assault on France’s Patrick Battiston in the semi-final, which left the defender needing major surgery to reconstruct his face. Big Tone escaped without any punishment and to this day, has never apologised to Battiston for the challenge that could have ended his life as well as his career.
All eyes then will be on current German women’s number one Almuth Schult when they start their campaign against China on Saturday.
DOING A RIVALDO
It’s sad to think that a player as supremely talented as former Brazilian superstar Rivaldo will be best remembered for his atrocious impersonation of someone being shot at the World Cup in Japan/South Korea in 2002. Whilst wasting time after going 1-0 ahead against Turkey thanks to a controversial penalty, Rivaldo’s behaviour was too much for former Blackburn Rovers man Hakan Unsal who kicked the ball at him in the corner urging him to get on with it.
Despite this Exocet missile cannoning of his shin, Rivaldo went down clutching his face as is he’d just seen his missus in the sack with his best mate. To add insult to er….injury, Unsal was sent-off whilst Rivaldo escaped with a £1000.00 fine and the sponsor’s man-of-the-match award before helping his country lift the trophy.
There’s not a hope anyone will embarrass themselves so much in France 2019.
DOING A PERU
The 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina have always been clouded in controversy and no game has come under scrutiny more than the host’s second-round game against Peru which was effectively a semi-final. The scenario went like this; Argentina needed to beat their South American rivals by at least four clear goals to qualify for the final at the expense of Brazil.
The omens for the Selecao were not good when the team-sheets were handed in and it was discovered that Argentine-born Ramon Quiroga would play in goal for the Peruvians. 90 minutes and six goals later, the hosts were in the final and back in 2012, Peruvian senator Genaro Ledesma “alleged” that the game had been fixed. Maybe it’s for the best that Peru hasn’t qualified for this tournament, but best check the birth certificate of any goalkeeper who lines up against the Albicelestes over the next few weeks just to be sure eh!
DOING A SUAREZ (TWICE)
“Brilliant, but temperamental” was the way Basil Fawlty described his drunken Greek chef in the brilliant sit-com Fawlty Towers and many would say that is the best way to describe Barcelona Uruguayan frontman Luis Suarez. Others may say that the buck-toothed wonder will probably go down as the biggest sh*t in World Cup history (after Schumacher).
For example number one, let’s go back to South Africa in 2010 when his handball in the dying seconds against Ghana denied the African side a place in the World Cup semi-final.
Many have forgotten however, that the real villain in this piece was Asamoah Gyan who missed the resulting spot-kick with Suarez himself stating that he “did what he had to do”.
Four years later in Brazil after getting the hunger knock, Suarez decided to snack on the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini escaping without so much as even a booking. Lord only knows what VAR would have made of this incident had it been around; they may even have decided to add-on a service charge or asked if he’d like to see the dessert menu.