BELO HORIZONTE Brazil (Reuters) - When it became clear on Sunday that the United States will slug it out with Germany in their final Group G game for qualification and top spot, memories of Germany’s “Disgrace of Gijon,” a 1982 World Cup match against Austria, quickly resurfaced.
With former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann now at the helm of the United States and a draw in Recife on Thursday suiting both countries, parallels to the controversial 1982 encounter are inevitable.
With both teams on four points, and Ghana and Portugal on one, a draw will be enough to send both Germany and the United States through to the round of 16.
To make matter even more complicated and help fuel conspiracy theories, current Germany coach Joachim Loew was Klinsmann’s assistant during his spell at Germany and the two have stayed in contact ever since.
That 1982 game in Spain - a 1-0 win for what was then West Germany - was enough to send both them and neighbors Austria through at the expense of an entertaining Algeria.
It went down in history as the “disgrace of Gijon” or the “Gijon non-aggression pact.”
An early goal by Germany’s Horst Hrubesch was followed by a soulless kick-about, neither team wanting to score, leaving in-form Algeria, who had stunned Germany 2-1 but lost to Austria, out of the tournament.
Algeria had edged past Chile 3-2 a day earlier and the players of both Austria and Germany, playing on June 25, knew their 1-0 score was enough for both to go through.
Fans in Gijon’s El Molinon stadium burned bank notes, shouting ‘rigged’ ‘rigged’, with the match arguably the darkest moment in Germany’s otherwise illustrious football history since World War Two.
“You will allow me not comment on the action on the pitch because what is on offer is a disgrace,” German commentator Eberhard Stanjek famously told viewers of ARD public television during his commentary.
“You cannot describe this as football. This has nothing to do with a World Cup game.”
Stanjek then stunned viewers, staying silent for a staggering four minutes before adding: “There is a minute left in this which has been described as an alleged game.”
Whistles and jeers from outraged fans accompanied each pass as both the Germans and the Austrians constantly played the ball back to their own defenders with neither team making even the slightest effort to attack.
“The German and Austrian teams have spent today all their sympathies from around the world because what they have offered here just reeks of a deal,” Stanjek said.
The game is also the reason why the last group matches start at the same time nowadays to avoid any such fiascos.
In a twist of fate, Algeria striker Rabah Madjer, who had put his team into the lead against the Germans in their famous 2-1 group win at that tournament, got some form of revenge a few years later.
Playing for Portugal’s Porto he scored a late equalizer against Bayern Munich with his team scoring again to lift the 1987 European Cup with a 2-1 comeback win, in of all places, Vienna.
“That 1982 game is a long time ago,” Klinsmann told reporters after his team conceded a stoppage-time goal to draw 2-2 against Portugal on Sunday and set up the decider against Germany.
“We want to win the group and we are not a team that plays for draws,” the 1990 World Cup winner said.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Angus MacSwan