World Cup : Disgrace of Gijon : Reason behind the final group games starting at the same time

The current Word Cup has seen lot of interesting scorelines after the end of the two game of group stage. Still many teams need a Win or a draw to qualify. Some teams have qualified but which team will top the table will be determined by the outcome of the 3rd game of the group stage which will be the final game before the qualified teams move ahead to the knock out stages.

The current format of final group games in international tournaments starting at the same time was not prevalent from the starting days of international tournaments. The event which led to the thought of conducting the final games simultaneously happened during the group stages of 1982 World Cup which was held in Spain. Total of 24 teams were divided in to 6 groups of 4 teams each.

West Germany, Austria, Algeria and Chile were part of Group 2. Group 2 started with one of the greatest upsets in the World Cup history. Algeria playing their first ever World Cup match defeated West Germany 2-1. Algeria then played Austria. They lost that match 0-2. Algeria’s final match of the group was against Chile and they managed to win that 3-2. The scoring system during that time was 2 points for a Win and 1 point for a draw.

So Algeria had 4 points from 3 games. West Germany after playing 2 games were at 2 points while Austria had won both of their initial 2 games and were at 4 points.

Algeria had played their final match one day before West Germany’s final encounter. West Germany had to win the match to qualify to the next round. Both Austria and West Germany knew what was required for both of them to qualify.


Germany won by 1 or 2 goals margin then both West Germany and Austria would qualify. But if Germany scored more than 3 goals then Austria will be eliminated and Algeria would qualify.

The match started with West Germany attacking the Austrian defense and they managed to score within the first quarter of the game. But what happened after that was what triggered FIFA to change the rules / timing of the final group stage matches. West Germany and Austria played the rest of the match without much of an intent and never really tried to score goals on either side of the ground. The final points table looked like this :

Disgrace 1

Spectators were upset seeing the way in which the match was played. As per Wiki, One of the Commentator refused to comment about the match & another one requested the viewers to switch off their television sets. A newspaper had published the result of this match under their crime section.

There were lot of discussions about this ‘unfair’ game which was played at Gijon but FIFA was not able to prove anything wrong as no rules of the Game were broken.

Algeria TeamAlgeria

As per The Guardian:-

Did the Algerian players take offence? Not at all, Merzekane says. “We weren’t angry, we were cool,” he says. “To see two big powers debasing themselves in order to eliminate us was a tribute to Algeria. They progressed with dishonour, we went out with our heads held high.”

From all over the world came calls for Fifa to punish the Europeans or stage a replay, but in the end all the world’s governing body did was rule that henceforth the last pair of games in every group must be played simultaneously. “Our performances forced Fifa to make that change, and that was even better than a victory,” Belloumi says. “It meant that Algeria left an indelible mark on football history.”

So this match which was played on the 25th of June, 1982 between West Germany and Austria at the El Moninon Stadium in Gijon, Spain is termed as the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ or the ‘Shame of Gijon’.

FIFA decided to change the rules and the final group stage matches of international tournaments from then onward are played at the same time to nullify the strategic calculations and rule out the chances of ‘amicably played matches’.


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