Top five game-changing games

Posted by - February 11, 2011 - Lists

OTP looks at matches that changed football’s laws

1. England 1-0 Argentina (1966)
This is the match where Argentina captain Antonio Rattin refused to leave the pitch after being sent-off. Suggestions that his dismissal had been lost in translation might sound like sour grapes, yet England defender Jack Charlton phoned the Wembley press office to find out if he had been cautioned by German referee Rudolf Kreitlein. Experienced English referee Ken Aston was in the office when Charlton’s call came in and took inspiration on his drive home. He came up with a traffic light system that would morph into yellow and red cards in time for the 1970 World Cup.

2. West Germany 1-0 Austria (1982)
Nicknamed the Nichtangriffspakt von Gijón (Treaty of Gijón), West Germany beat Austria 1-0 in their final group match of the 1982 World Cup. Miraculously, this was a result that would ensure both teams qualified for the next round. The other two teams in the group, Algeria and Chile, had played the previous day. The dodgy goings on were obvious to everyone watching the match, and simultaneous final group games were introduced for future international tournaments.

3. Republic of Ireland 0-0 Egypt (1990)
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner had possession of the ball for six minutes towards the end of this match. The Celtic stalwart dribbled around his penalty area, picking the ball up if an Egyptian player approach him. As a result, the backpass rule and the rule preventing goalkeepers from picking the ball up again after releasing it were both brought in by 1992.

4. Greece 1-0 Czech Republic (2004)
A goal 15 seconds from the end of the first-half of extra-time in this Euro 2004 semi-final, scored from a set-piece by the ultra-defensive Greeks was enough to convince FIFA that its silver goal experiment had failed.

5. West Ham 1-0 Arsenal (1980)
West Ham were 1-0 victors in the 1980 FA Cup final, but the main talking point afterwards was that they ought to have been 2-0 winners. The Hammers’ Paul Allen had been clean through on goal when Arsenal defender Willie Young took him out. As the laws of the game stood, only a free-kick could be awarded. After much discussion, the professional foul law came into effect in England games in the 1982-83. FIFA cottoned on in time for the 1990 World Cup.

Have you got suggestions for other fixtures which altered the laws of the game? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

  • Boohoo

    Touchy subject but … Hillsborough? At least in terms of stadium design, though that’s not about the laws of football as such.
    Perhaps England-Germany at Bloemfontein (I was there, behind the German goal) will turn out to be the game that finally brought significant action on adjudication of goal-line decisions. One can only hope *sigh*
    Alan

  • Mike Coen

    World Cup – Van Basten goal when a defender falls off the pitch and is still counted as part of the active game when the assistant judges not offside. Despite FIFA insisting it was already part of law (it wasn’t, except for an explanatory pamphlet from the US federation) the next season’s laws included specific instructions as to when an off-the-field player still counted as part of active play.

  • Anonymous

    Good shout, Mike.