Saturday, September 3, 2016

3 September 1989 - This Makes Me Wonder If Professional Wrestling Is Big In Chile

On 3 September 1989, a World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Chile was halted after Chile's goalkeeper, Roberto Rojas, appeared to be struck by a flare thrown from the stands and fell to the ground bleeding. 

Playing at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro in their group's last qualification match, Chile and Brazil were even on points. Brazil had a better goal differential and could qualify with a draw, while Chile needed a win to advance to the World Cup in Italy. Their prospects took a hit, however, when Brazilian striker Careca scored in the 49th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. 

In the 70th minute, with the score still 1-0, a Brazilian supporter in the stands threw the flare in the direction of Rojas, who fell to the ground clutching his face. He was taken off the pitch on a stretcher, with blood running down his face. Citing fears for their safety, the Chilean team walked off the pitch and the match was abandoned. 

Subsequent review of the video from the match revealed that the flare was thrown by a Brazilian supporter named Rosemary de Mello, but also showed that it never struck Rojas. Investigators determined that his injury was self-inflicted, using a razor concealed in one of his gloves. They also concluded that Chile's manager, Orlando Aravena, orchestrated the feigned injury with Rojas and team doctor Daniel Rodriguez in the hope that the officials would award the match to Chile or, alternatively, call for a replay. 

Instead, the match went down as a 2-0 victory for Brazil, while Rojas, Aravena, and Rodriguez each received lifetime bans from FIFA. In addition, team captain Fernando Astengo received a five-year ban for taking the team off the pitch, while Chile were barred from participating in the 1994 World Cup. In 2001, FIFA lifted the ban on Rojas, who was working as a trainer in São Paulo at the time. 

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