Wednesday, October 9, 2013

9 October 1996 - Things Are Never That Easy For Scotland

On 9 October 1996, a World Cup qualifier kicked off with only one team on the pitch when the other one refused to show up.

Scotland had traveled to Tallinn for a game against Estonia that was originally scheduled to be played at 6:45 pm local time. Estonia had rented temporary truck-mounted floodlights for the game, but Scotland manager Craig Brown believed that they were too low and failed to fully illuminate the pitch. A FIFA official inspected the stadium on 8 October and decided that the game should go ahead as scheduled.

Brown took his complaints to FIFA, who agreed later that night to reschedule the match for 3:00 pm. Scotland duly arrived at that time the following day only to find that they were the only ones there. Estonia had refused to agree to the time change, claiming that their players could not be available on such short notice. Believing their hosts had forfeited the match, Scotland kicked off while their supporters sang "there's only one team in Tallinn" and the referee blew the final whistle after only three seconds.

Just under a month later, over Scotland's protests, FIFA decided that the match should be rescheduled rather than go down as a forfeit. The teams met in Monaco on 7 February 1997 and played to a scoreless draw.

Despite the loss of the two points, Scotland still qualified for the 1998 World Cup while Estonia did not.

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