The 1966 World Cup Final was hosted in England, who easily defeated the bids of both West Germany and Spain. It has been the center of a number of conspiracy theories over the years and it would only taint FIFA’s reputation for years to come.
Joao Havelange, who was FIFA President from 1974 until 1998 stated that the 1966 and ’74 World Cups were fixed.
"In the three matches that the Brazilian national team played in 1966, of the three referees and six linesmen, seven were British and two were Germans," Havelange told Folha de Sao Paulo.
When we speak of corruption in the 1966 World Cup, we think of lack of Black players, or the Argentine Rattin being controversially sent off or even whether or not in the Final between West Germany and England the ball “went passed the line.”
But many of us seem to forget the 1966 semi-final between Portugal and England played on the 26th of July.
The game had been scheduled to be played at Goodison Park in Liverpool where the Portuguese national team resided but “at the last minute” FIFA(though some say it was the English FA, we’ll go with FIFA), had switched the venue to Wembley in London where England was located. The match was supposed to be played at 3:00(15:00)pm but FIFA granted a concession to the weary Portugal team that was forced to Wembley from Liverpool at 7:30(19.30)pm. This resulted in Portugal not being able to train and were forced to travel by coach(which most likely took 4/5 hours to get from Liverpool to London at the time).
The World Cup organizing committee had decided that the “most attractive” match should be played at the largest venue to increase the revenue and capacity.
The Liverpool Daily Post reported: “Merseysiders were calling the FIFA decision to play the England v Portugal World Cup semi final at Wembley ‘the greatest betrayal in sporting history’.”
When the Portuguese Football Association filed a complaint with FIFA on the 25th July 1966 it was immediately rejected by the President at the time, Sir Stanley Rouse who just happened to be English.
England eventually won the match against Portugal 2-1 with two goals from Bobby Charlton in the 30th and 80th minute and a penalty from Eusebio in the 82nd minute.
Did fatigue, tactics, skill, and brilliance play apart in England’s World Cup success, or was dishonesty the quintessence of their only major title since their conception in 1863?
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple"-Oscar Wilde.
Photos posted are from Getty Images.