Ruud Doevendans

Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Graham Poll wasn't the first one

    When I had PWC columnist Paul Marcuccitti over at my house during the World Cup, we talked about his experiences while travelling through Germany. One of the most exciting moments had been the match between Australia, his home country, and Croatia. Both teams had lots of fans in the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart, shouting for their teams loudly like he had never heard before. And of course we discussed the performance of Graham Poll, the referee on the night, who made a string of blatant mistakes and only sent off Croatian Josip Simunic after showing him his third yellow card.

    And all of a sudden, it struck my mind. Hadn't their been one more or less similar situation in the World Cup before? And wasn't that in a match with Australia involved as well? Now Australia did only play three matches in the World Cup prior to the one we had been talking about, so it wasn't a big search. And while still chatting with Paul, I knew it.

    Saturday, June 22 1974, wasn't a very nice day in Berlin. The rain had already been falling down for hours when Australia and Chile entered the pitch of the Olympia Stadium, the biggest venue for this World Cup filled with only 14,000 spectators for that occasion. It was their third match in the competition. Chile only had a chance of qualifying for the next round when East Germany would be beaten by their western neighbours at the same day, Australia were already eliminated after losing their two earlier matches against East and West Germany. Only pride to play for.

    Neither of the teams were very spectacular, nor were they very good. Chile had World Cup veterans like Figueroa, Valdes and Veliz in the team, who had already gained experience at this level in 1966, but neither could make the headlines in this championship. Caszely, their star player out with a red card in the first match, came back this time and did pretty well, but his fellow strikers missed a lot needed at this level. Australia, who had lost their big star Ray Baartz prior to the tournament due to a nasty injury, only had a lot of good will to offer. Jack Reilly was a sound goalie and James MacKay wasn't a bad player, but up front they also lacked bite. A typical 0-0 match? Yes.

    The match in itself wasn't worth this column. It ended 0-0. But the referee was. The man in charge in Berlin was little Iranian Jafar Namdar, not a familiar name in World Cups until then. He had been at the Olympic Games 1972, also in West Germany, but this was his first match in the World Cup. The rain tormented the pitch, in the second half the teams could hardly play the ball from one to another, always water in the way. West Germany-Poland was not the only match in this tournament destroyed by water, there was a lot of rain in the summer of 1974. Namdar, though this was not a match played with full dedication, was in trouble all the time. Australia had the more physical approach (hey, didn't we see that in 2006 as well?) and Chile couldn't find a way through. Many of the decisions Namdar took were doubtful. And when midfielder Ray Richards, a 30 year old playing his hometown football for Marconi Fairfield, kicked the ball away in anger after Namdar again had called a foul against Australia, just when the team in yellow and green thought this it had been a fair challenge, it earned him a yellow card.

    So far, so good. But then comes the 82nd minute: an unclear situation. First left back Colin Curran of Australia collides with Chilean right back Rolando Garcia, at the sideline. Screaming from pain Curran is on the ground, some Australian trainers around him who take him out off the field. Namdar has awarded the free kick to Australia, Ray Richards is about to take it. But one of the trainers is in the way while still giving treatment to Curran, Richards can not take the run towards the ball that he wants to. Vital Louraux, the famous Belgian referee now a linesman - who would have been a better choice to lead the match, as well as Dutchman Arie van Gemert who was on the other side with the flag - calls for Namdar to tell him he should order Curran and his men further away from the sideline so that Richards can take his run. Instead, Namdar believes that Louraux tells him that Richards is wasting time. Namdar shows the yellow card to the strong built midfielder. His second of the night. But nothing further happens. No red card. Richards can stay on the field.

    Play goes on, and two minutes later - okay, it is not as bad as Poll, but still - Australian Manfred Schaefer and one of the Chilean forwards are performing a sort of catch-as-catch-can, and Namdar gives Chile the free kick. Then, Louraux waves his flag again. He tells Namdar that he forgot to show the red card to Richards. You see it, he raises six fingers to tell: it is number 6. Namdar does the same: number 6? Yes, number 6. Then he goes for Richards, can not find him at first, but in the end sends him off. Protesting loudly, Richards obeys.

    Australia, the World Cup and referees, it is something strange with yellow and red cards everytime the Socceroos participate!

    Namdar was allowed to come back to the World Cup. He was the referee in 1978 when Poland beat Mexico 3-1. Graham Poll retired from international football after his mistakes. Namdar, who again was controversial in 1978, should have done the same. He was a referee on the wrong level.



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