Peter Goldstein

Peter Goldstein is a professor at Juniata College in Pennsylvania in the USA. He has been World Cup crazy since 1966. He will share his views about the past, present and future of this event.

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Making Football History

    The last few months I've been studying Chile 1962: reading books, watching tapes, surfing the Web for diverse accounts. Why? Because if you're a World Cup fanatic, the only thing as important as watching the current tournament is studying the past tournaments. Names like Vavá and Masopust, games like the Battle of Santiago, goals like Garrincha's swerving shot against England are part of our common heritage. If you live in Germany, you know about Otto von Bismarck and Konrad Adenauer; if in France, Napoleon and Charles DeGaulle; on Planet Football, Didi and Lev Yashin. Football history is where we come to know ourselves.

    So I've learned lots about 1962. Did you know that Garrincha was sent off in the semifinal against Chile, but after Brazilian appeals, was still allowed to play in the Final? Or that Brazil used only twelve players to win the tournament? Or that a superstitious Uruguay didn't bring a jersey number 13?

    All interesting stuff, and there's plenty more where that came from. But in this column I want to focus on two facts about the 1962 tournament, facts which, while interesting in themselves, more importantly say much about the way in which football history is written. They're cautionary tales, I suppose, about the way in which our perceptions of the past can be rendered fuzzy, or warped. And they suggest a remedy, a project which, while by no means free from the imperfections of history, can go a long way toward both establishing and preserving our essential football heritage for as long as the game endures.

    Fact number one: the top scorer at Chile 1962 was Drazen Jerkovic of Yugoslavia, with 5 goals. This may surprise you. That's because for many years sources invariably listed a six-way tie for top scorer: Jerkovic, Garrincha, Vavá, Ivanov (USSR), Albert (Hungary), Sánchez (Chile), all with 4 goals. In fact, the large majority of sources on the Web still list the six-way tie, while only a small minority list Jerkovic alone. The single most authoritative Web statisticians' site,, lists the six-way tie. So does Planet World Cup. And so does FIFA. Go to their official site for Germany 2006,, click on "Classic Football," "Previous FIFA World Cups," "1970~1958," then on "Overview" under "Chile 1962," and you'll see it quite clearly. What's going on?

    If at some point Jerkovic was credited with 4 goals, and at a later date his total was changed to 5, it's reasonable to assume that somebody went back, looked at the films, and decided that Jerkovic should get an extra goal. And if that's what happened, we would expect to find ample evidence of the decision. But I've searched the Web high and low, and have only found two specific accounts of the change, both on Brazilian sites, both in Portuguese. Both accounts say there was an official ruling, although only one explicitly says FIFA made the ruling (who else could have done it, though?). One gives a few more details, saying that a new look at the film revealed Jerkovic should have been credited with a goal that the referee had given to Galic. One site says the change was made in 1990, the other says 1993. Curious.

    According to the more complete of these accounts, the goal in question is Yugoslavia's third goal in their 5:0 victory over Colombia. But although a number of sites give Jerkovic 5 goals, almost all the hardcore statistical sites, the sites that catalogue each and every goal, still give that goal to Galic. In fact, so far I've only found one that gives that specific goal to Jerkovic. Well then, what does FIFA's official site, the one that still lists the six-way tie, say? Click on "Results" under "Chile 1962," then on "Yugoslavia: Colombia" to get the Official Match Report, and you'll see the goal still belongs to Galic. We are told FIFA officially decided to credit Jerkovic with 5 goals--but their official website says in two places that he has only 4.

    Let's dig further. I have three books with contemporary accounts of the tournament. In World Cup 1962, by Donald Saunders, the text on Yugoslavia-Colombia refers to "three goals by centre-forward Jerkovic and one each by Melic and Galic." In the statistical rundown at the back, Jerkovic is again credited with three against Colombia. VII. Fussball-Weltmeisterschaft Chile 1962, edited by Friedrich Hack and Richard Kirn, also gives Jerkovic all three goals. However, in World Cup '62: The Report from Chile, edited by Gordon Jeffery, Stratton Smith, and Friedebert Becker, Jerkovic gets only two against Colombia, with Galic getting two. But to some degree this report is suspect: it gives Jerkovic's two undisputed goals as the first two goals of the match, whereas almost all other sources, both contemporary and current, give him the second and fifth goals.

    This evidence certainly suggests that at the time a substantial number of people thought Jerkovic had scored three against Colombia, and thus 5 for the tournament. But somewhere along the line it got changed to produce the six-way tie with which most fans are familiar. When and how that change happened, we have no clear evidence, but it seems to have been decisive.

    And yet, when FIFA changed it back, either in 1990 or 1993 (or perhaps some other year?), the world failed to follow. As noted, the majority of sites, including FIFA's itself, still list Jerkovic with 4, and almost all the statistical sites, again including FIFA's, give Jerkovic only two against Colombia. There has been similar resistance, or perhaps unawareness, in the book world. In recent years German sports publishing house Agon Verlag has issued a series of comprehensive monographs on the World Cups. In the volume on 1962, by Matthias Voigt, published in 2002, Galic gets the goal, not Jerkovic. There is no mention whatsoever of a dispute, and the book affirms the familiar six-way tie for top scorer. (I have not yet seen Terry Crouch's recent encyclopedic English-language statistical record.)

    So where does that leave us? Someone scored that goal. The only way to find out is to look at the film, which FIFA is said to have done. But I know of no publicly available film of that game, or even of that particular goal. The official FIFA film of Chile 1962 doesn't have it, and no game collector on the Web lists Yugoslavia-Colombia among his tapes. Yet at some point there was a clear view that Jerkovic was the scorer, at some point an apparently unanimous view that Galic was the scorer, and now a split view, with FIFA's official website contradicting reports of its own ruling. Jerkovic's goal is a "fact" which is no fact: we seem to have no clear way to determine what happened, and very little evidence how and why our view changed.

    Which leads us to fact number two: in the Final, with Brazil leading Czechoslovakia 2:1 in the second half, Djalma Santos handled the ball in the area, but in a controversial call, referee Latishev of the USSR gave no penalty. This may surprise you as well. That's because there is no recent English-language account of the game that I know of that mentions the handball. Brian Glanville's "definitive" history (I have the 1997 version) does not. The single English-language mention of the handball I can find on the Web is in a profile of Djalma Santos. I haven't looked at foreign language accounts on the Web, and again I don't have all the English-language books, but it's obvious that the handball forms no prominent feature of our memory of the game.

    Was the handball important? Of course it was. Had Czechoslovakia tied the game at that time (around the 70th minute), the result might have been very different. Soon afterwards Brazil scored the clinching third goal, on a famous error by Schroiff, the Czech keeper; but who knows whether they would have been in that precise attacking position if the game were tied?

    Contemporary accounts indicate that Latishev's call was by no means undisputed. Saunders seems doubtful: "[After Brazil's second goal] we all knew that the cup was not now likely to go back to Europe for another four years. True, a few minutes later, Djalma Santos appeared to handle a shot by Jelinek in the box and the Russian, Latychev, whom I regard as the world's greatest referee, waved play on. Masopust was also unlucky with a header that scraped over the bar. But the Brazilians were now supremely confident..." Hack and Kirn, on the other hand, clearly support Latishev's call [translation mine]: "On a tricky cross-shot from outside-left Jelinek, the ball leapt at Djalma Santos' hand. Naturally the referee gave no penalty." Jeffery, Smith, and Becker give us the full description:

Five minutes before [Brazil's third goal] the coolly disciplined Czechs had momentarily lost their heads when Mr. Latishev had refused them a penalty, which would probably have equalized for them. Djalma Santos certainly handled the ball. Mr. Latishev obviously thought it accidental, and waved play on, despite the protests. Later that evening he was still adamant it was no penalty.

There is a point for discussion here. Santos certainly had the ball driven at him from a range which made it difficult for him to get his hand out of the way. But equally, he had been branching out his arms, with the clear intention of narrowing the angle of shot. Therefore, one can argue, his arms were certainly "in play," and it should have been a penalty. Opinion in the Stadium, and in the City's hotels afterwards, seemed about evenly divided!

    As it happens, unlike the Jerkovic/Galic dispute, we have film of this incident (including a 1962-vintage slow motion replay!) to help us out. The film shows that, exactly as Jeffery, Smith, and Becker describe, Djalma Santos did not move his hand toward the ball, but it also shows, again as described, he leapt with his arm extended. Latishev was in perfect position, and waved it off decisively; perhaps this was standard interpretation at the time. But my guess is that today, 9 out of 10 referees would give the penalty.

    So here we have a key disputed moment in a World Cup Final, a moment which may very well have had a decisive effect on the result. You would expect it to play a prominent role in any account of the game. Yet it rarely appears. Even in Agon Verlag's recent monograph it gets short shrift: Voigt mentions the handball, mentions Latishev's ruling that the ball hit the hand, but does not describe the play or the controversy in full.

    How and why has this happened? Game accounts are by definition narratives, stories which take us through each incident of the affair. But the historian must choose which incidents to include and which to leave out, which to emphasize and and which to underplay. And that choice is guided by a master narrative, an overall view of the game he wishes to project. In the case of the 1962 Final, and the tournament as a whole, the master narrative is Brazil Triumphant. Although by consensus their 1962 performance was not as strong as in 1958, they won through with heart and championship quality, proving their worth at the highest level. The 1962 championship is part of the story which puts Brazil, with their joyful and beautiful football, at the pinnacle of our game. And so it would be unseemly to highlight an incident which suggests they were lucky to win through--especially since they were also gifted their third goal on a mistake by the keeper. Quite naturally, we want our heroes to be untarnished, and so untarnished they are.

    Jerkovic's goal and Djalma Santos' handball are two different types of problem. In the former, we seem to have no way of knowing what actually happened, and no clear knowledge how each version came to be accepted. In the latter, we know what happened, but the facts may be obscured, and in future years may disappear altogether, because of the way we tell our stories. But although the situations are different, our predicament is the same: in both cases we may not be in full possession of the facts.

    Such gaps may seem a relic of the past; after all, Chile 1962 was more than forty years ago, and we now have more thorough data-gathering techniques and more efficient communication. This is the Information Age, where we know everything, or can find it whenever we want. But if you think this sort of thing can't happen now, think again. Four years ago, in a Group C game, Brazil defeated Costa Rica 5:2. Brazil's first goal was originally ruled an own goal by Luis Marín, but after an appeal by Brazil, the goal was given to Ronaldo. The tape conclusively shows that Ronaldo's shot was headed wide of the goal, and only went in because Marín deflected it. By any reasonable standard, this was an own goal. And yet it has gone down as Ronaldo's tally, and figures to stay so for the forseeable future. What will people know in forty years?

    This incident combines features of the Jerkovic and Djalma Santos situations. As with Jerkovic, a goal has been wrongly credited, and at some point may need to be revisited. As with Djalma Santos, a controversial event has been suppressed, and is likely to disappear in the service of a master narrative, in this case Ronaldo The Goalscorer. In 2006 Ronaldo may very well break Gerd Müller's record, and, as noted, we don't want a blemish on our heroes. If and when Ronaldo breaks the record, don't expect anyone to point out that one of his goals was bogus.

    We also still have more mundane discrepancies, and minor errors, in game reports. Every fan knows that when you read different accounts of a game, you're likely to get small inconsistencies. Maybe it's two different players who made a pass, or committed a foul, or maybe it's whether an event came after a free kick or a corner kick. Some reports will mention certain incidents, others will leave them out. And so on. Unless we watched the game ourselves, and remember it clearly, we can't always be sure what actually happened.

    What can we do? After all, humans write history, and humans are imperfect. There will always be controversies and mistakes. But we should have the facts as clear as possible, and the full evidence on both sides if there's any dispute. And luckily for us, with the resources of the Internet, and the increased availability of tapes of previous games, we now have a unique opportunity to achieve those goals. The solution: a complete study of all available tapes, recording all incidents of importance, noting all potential disputes, giving us as complete and unbiased a record as possible of each and every game played in the World Cup.

    At a minimum, this information would include times and descriptions of goals, cards, scoring chances, saves, substitutions, and other significant events. Ideally, it would also include studies of tactics and careful evaluations of player and team performance. If the left back for Romania had a difficult time dealing with the right midfielder of Tunisia for the first 15 minutes of their game in 1998, we should know this. We should also know if referees' calls were doubtful: each and every penalty, each and every red card should receive a full description, and as objective as possible a judgment.

    In effect, we should make a complete record of what happened on the field during the World Cup. We have full videos of all the games from 1966 onward, and several from before then. All those games can be viewed, analyzed, described, catalogued, and ultimately, preserved. All accounts can be made available on a single website. It will be the definitive record of the World Cup, so that a century from now football fans who want to know what happened can do so, with reasonable security that the information is accurate. It won't be perfect, because no description can be exhaustive, no evaluation completely objective. But it'll be as close to the full picture as we can get. No more mystery goals, no more suppressed handballs. Our complete common heritage.

    Is this proposal too ambitious? I don't think so. There are lots of games to be recorded, but there are also a lot of World Cup fanatics, all connected by e-mail. A dedicated team of researchers and writers, working within clear guidelines, might be able to produce a complete record in time for 2014, maybe even 2010. After Germany 2006 is the perfect time to get the ball rolling. We can do it. If anyone out there is interested in playing a part in this project, please contact me. Let's make football history.



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