Saturday, November 21, 2015

21 November 1973 - The Soviets Avoid A Chile Reception

On 21 November 1973, Chile beat the Soviet Union 1-0 in a World Cup qualifying play-off match. It helped that the Soviets didn't bother to show up.

For the first time ever, World Cup qualification pitted a European team against a South American team in a playoff for the final spot in the tournament. The two teams drew 0-0 in the first leg, played in Moscow on 26 September. The second leg was scheduled for the National Stadium in Santiago, which had recently been used as a prison camp during that year's Chilean coup d'etat led by US-supported General Augusto Pinochet against Soviet-backed President Salvador Allende.

The Soviets refused to play in the stadium, effectively withdrawing from the tournament. The match went ahead as scheduled, though, with the Chileans kicking off before a crowd of thousands. They passed the ball down the pitch to their captain, who kicked it in from right in front of the goal. FIFA, however, declared the match a forfeit.

Immediately afterward, Chile hosted a friendly against Brazilian club Santos and lost 5-0.

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