Saturday, June 2, 2012

2 June 1962 - Chile Beats Italy, Literally

On 2 June 1962, Chile used a few punches, one bloody nose, and a couple of goals to beat Italy in a World Cup match.

Known as "the Battle of Santiago," the match was played before a crowd of 66,057 at the Estadio Nacional and was the second group stage match of the tournament for both teams. Anti-Italian sentiment was running high in Chile because a pair of Italian journalists had disparaged both the city of Santiago and its women before the tournament even started (worried about their own safety, the two men had to flee the country before the match).

But the first sign of trouble on the day was sparked by Italy. Midfielder Giorgio Ferrini, caught up in a tangle while trying to gain control of the ball, grew frustrated and kicked out at Chilean forward Honorino Landa, prompting Ferrini's own quick ejection after only five minutes. He refused to leave and had to be dragged off the pitch by policemen. During the confusion, Italian forward Humberto Maschio appeared to punch Leonel Sánchez in the face.

Sánchez later punched defender Mario David in the face, but was not booked. David retaliated with a flying kick to Sánchez's head that did result in an expulsion, bringing Italy down to nine men in the 41st minute. Sánchez again escaped punishment after punching Maschio in the face, leaving him with a bloody nose.

Fights continued to break out across the pitch as Chile used their two-man advantage to win 2-0 with goals from Jaime Ramírez (73') and Jorge Toro (87'). BBC commentator David Coleman later described the match as "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game."

Although Italy won their next game, it was not enough to get them into the next round. Chile, meanwhile, advanced to the semifinals before losing to Brazil, then won the third-place match against Yugoslavia.

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