The last round of Group Stage matches are on at the FIFA World Cup 2022. Heavyweight teams like Brazil, France, Portugal are through to the Round of 16. For spectators, who are new to the FIFA World Cup action, following the last round of the group matches can be a tricky affair. Firstly, a lot of permutation can be at play with Round of 16 berths at stake. Secondly, the final two matches of a group happen simultaneously, thus making it a hectic affair for the fans.
But why do two matches take place simultaneously, when separate timings make it easier for everybody? Th answer lies in a controversial incident that happened at the 1982 World Cup, better known as, ‘The disgrace of Gijon’.
It happened during a match between West Germany and Austria at the El Molinon stadium in Gijon, Spain.
It was the final game of Group 2. Algeria and Chile, other teams in the group, had played a day before. Going into the final day, Austria were at the pole position with four points (goal difference +3) from two games. The second-placed Algeria were also on four points from three games but behind on goal difference (0). West Germany were third with two points (goal difference +2) from two games. The fourth team – Chile – was eliminated from the race after losing all their three matches.
So basically, the equation for West Germany to qualify was that they had to beat Austria by a margin of at least one goal to get to four points and better Algeria on goal difference. For Austria to qualify, the equation was that they must not lose by a margin of more than two.
The Germans took a lead in the 10th minute after a goal from Horst Hrubesch. After that goal, both teams showed no real intent of scoring. Spectators accused the sides of fixing the result, but FIFA said they did not break any rules.
After this match, FIFA revised the system and from thereon final two games in each group is played simultaneously.