“The match had a villain in the form of Harald Schumacher and Charles Corver; the victim of the villain Patrick Battiston, a tragic hero named Maxime Bossis and heroes named Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Klaus Fischer and…well, Schumacher. For the Germans, Schumacher was a hero, but for the majority, he was a villain for the life-threatening tackle against Battiston and of course, there was no action from the Dutch referee – Corver”


Ask your grandfather if he is alive what happened on July 8 1982? Or ask your father on that hot and humid evening at Seville, 1982? Just notice their reaction at first – surely, their eyes would light up with excitement and at the same time an unknown sorrow will revisit in their eyes and heart because on that evening, a football match did happen, but it was not just a mere football match – well, maybe it was more than that – a match that still hurts many in France and rest of the football world.

Both tears of joy and sorrow were shed.

The football pitch was tinged with blood.

A footballer almost died.

A goalkeeper had no reaction to the wrong move he made.

A referee, who would not be respected since then.

A team that was never popular for a while.

A team that won the hearts of everyone and triggered a mini-revolution for five to six years in Europe.

Seville, July 8, 1982 – the wind of sadness and anger blew over the football world. The world became angry with the Germans again. After the disgrace at Gijon, it was the dramatic semifinal encounter at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium left each and everyone fuming – neither the spectators present at the stadium could believe what they witnessed nor the commentators could believe their eyes and took time to breathe because the match was changing its colour so much that it turned out to be a perfect plot for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick to make a Hollywood movie.

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The match had a villain in the form of Harald Schumacher and Charles Corver; the victim of the villain Patrick Battiston, a tragic hero named Maxime Bossis and heroes named Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Klaus Fischer and…well, Schumacher. For the Germans, Schumacher was a hero, but for the majority, he was a villain for the life-threatening tackle against Battiston and of course, there was no action from the Dutch referee – Corver.

Spain was the venue for the twelfth FIFA World Cup.

The tournament commenced with Belgium shocking the World Champions – Argentina and then it was time for the European Champions to experience the same – Algeria would make the German supporters, wives and dogs sad in the evening at Gijon, where the Germans, who gave the North African Nations no chance, left the pitch with their heads down with shame.

The Germans would bounce back and trigger a widespread criticism in the match against Austria where both the teams did nothing but rolled the ball around for the last eighty minutes – the Algerian crowd and neutrals were furious and even displayed money from the stands expressing their anger for the farce Germany and Austria showed.

Germany advanced and were pitted against Spain and in-form England in the second round.

They drew against England but beat Spain, who drew against England, to face France in the semifinal, which impressed everyone with their fluid football despite losing against England in the opening match.

In the meantime, in one splendid and adventurous week; Italy- the no-hoppers in the group stages – stunned Argentina, hot favourites Brazil and Poland to book a place in the final.

After Paolo Rossi magic in Barcelona, all eyes shifted to Seville for the clash between France and Germany.

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This match, like a number of other matches in this tournament, was played at 9 o’clock in the evening, because during that time, in July, the daily high temperatures in the south-western Spanish city of Seville averaged 37 °C; the hot weather during the tournament had already taken a toll on the players and that day of the match it had been very hot, and the temperature even at 9 p.m. local time at the start of the match was still in the high nineties, with high humidity!

Under the Normandy-born Michel Hidalgo, Les Blues were like an Orchestra – highly strung, enigmatic and delightful.

Michel Platini, Marius Tresor, Manuel Amoros, Alain Giresse, Dominique Rocheteau and Jea Paul Tigana – a bunch of intelligent and skilful players came across Hidalgo, who moulded them into artists – the romanticists just loved them like Brazil in the early and mid-80s.

Hilgado built his team for six years and as the mega-event commenced he said, “Intelligent play is more important than any instruction.”

“I have never talked results with my players. Never. I have always told them to focus on the game and the results will follow. I have been a player, a coach and a spectator and I have always thought that way. And I’m not worried if that sounds poetic or trite,” he added.

The French midfield carried a lot of flair and magic – they were equivalent to the majestic midfield of Zico, Socrates, Cerezo, Eder and Falcao, but like Brazil, they lacked a striker upfront and later on, Hilgado went on to say, “If we had Jean-Pierre Papin upfront, we would have won the World Cup in 1982.”

His opponent – Germany surfaced a team without their captain – Rummenigge who was benched due to a hamstring injury. After the defeat against Algeria, Germany lost their momentum but it was their German spirit that helped them carry on till the final.

Corver whistled for the game to begin in front of a capacity 70,000 crowd and set in motion one of the most exciting games in the history of football.

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The old warhorse – Paul Breitner – was playing the role of a fulcrum in the midfield of Jupp Derwell’s Germany.

Within eighteen minutes, Breitner took possession of the ball just inside the French half and shrugged aside an effective challenge by the French midfield, then he flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot, unsettling the French defence and put Fischer clear into the penalty area. But his threatening run was blocked by Ettori – the French goalkeeper – the ball ran slowly to the edge of the box where a young  Pierre Littbarski was waiting to grab his opportunity – He rifled it into the net through the web of French legs.

The Germans had taken the lead.

The French responded with Tresor coming out of his centre-back position and imposing more on the ball. His position along with the central midfielder gave Les Blues the numerical advantage in the midfield and pressurizes the German and that ploy created space for Platini to exploit.

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But the German defence was robust and solid led by the tough Manfred Kaltz. Bernd Forster was a solid customer at the heart of defence along with Karlheinz Foster while Uli Stielike was the sweeper.

The French fluency was slowed down by German defence.

Kaltz’s foul on Genghini earned France a free-kick and it was taken by Giresse.

Giresse flicked the dead ball lazily into the area with the outside of his right foot towards Platini, who did superbly to win the header above Magath and Dremmler.

He nutted it back across the face of goal, where Rocheteau went down under a challenge from Forster.

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Forster did hook the ball clear eventually but the referee signalled that he was holding Rocheteau – penalty to France and Platini beat Schumacher to equalize.

Tigana’s dangerous, bouncing cross is chested nonchalantly back to Schumacher by Briegel, six yards from his own goal. Didier Six slides in from behind on Briegel and then Schumacher’s forward momentum took him on top of Six – like a wrestler and dragged his elbow a little to show that it was Six’s challenge.

As Six got to his feet, Schumacher shoved him away angrily.

Six put his hands out in apology – he didn’t actually do anything wrong – but Schumacher waved his hand in disgust.

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Platini motions for Schumacher to simmer down because the keeper really needed it.

But on that evening – Schumacher was in a killer mood!

Then, Kaltz, marauding down the right, was clattered by Genghini, a challenge of endearing incompetence. Genghini was booked.

After a few minutes of feisty football – the French broke through with a counterattack.

It started with Giresse and Tigana riskily playing their way out of trouble inside the French area.

Tigana pushes it forward to Six, who runs 30 yards and waved the ball to Rocheteau on the left with the outside of the foot.

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Rocheteau ran at Bernd Forster, teasing him with a series of touches and hip movements until he got into the area on the left. Then, as Kaltz came across, he stabbed it back outside the box to Platini. He stormed onto the ball, 20 yards out, and cut across a beautiful shot that swerved and whistled just wide of the far post. That took 15 seconds from Giresse’s touch in his own area to Platini’s shot curving wide.

After the break, drama after drama started to unfold!

Kaltz, just inside his own half, Briegel gawped at it, expecting somebody else to go and get it. Tigana nipped in and, with Germany’s defence all over the place, slid a through-pass for Platini – but he was flagged offside. If Platini had waited for a second longer he would have been through on goal.

Giresse drilled a long, angled pass from the left. Rocheteau jumped for it with Bernd Förster, and when the ball broke loose he dragged it past Schumacher and into the net. But by then he had been penalized for a foul on Förster.

In the fifty-seventh minute, tragedy cropped up.

The crime of Schumacher

Battiston has missed a great chance to put France ahead and, in the process, had been flattened by Schumacher.

Bossis, just inside the German half on the right, won the ball and played it short to Platini. He turned, spotted Battiston haring through on goal and sprayed a nonchalant pass into the considerable space between Kaltz and Stielike.

Schumacher, sensing the danger, charged out from goal.

As the ball bounced up on the edge of the box to the substitute Battiston took the shot first time and drifted it just wide of the far post – but as he did so he was flattened as Schumacher leapt into him.

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That had to be a penalty to France! It looks even worse on the replay: as Schumacher twisted his body in mid-air, his elbow smashed into the face of Battiston, who flopped sickeningly to the turf and bounced over onto his back.

It was particularly horrible because both men were running at full pelt.

It was also appallingly late: the ball had travelled seven or eight yards before Schumacher hit Battiston.

Battiston is lying on his back and the level of French concern suggested he may be unconscious.

Once he is tended to, surely Schumacher should have been sent off.

Never mind a red card; he could get a stretch in the clink for that.

Schumacher has left the scene of the crime and is waiting to take a goal-kick, bold as brass, chewing gum impatiently as if everyone else is holding him up, rather than attending to a man he assaulted.

That’s at best clueless and at worst appallingly callous. Also, surely it can’t be a goal-kick – but then the referee doesn’t seem to have given a penalty.

Schumacher coming out of the goal post to tackle Battiston. Image Courtesy: AFP
Schumacher coming out of the goal post to tackle Battiston. Image Courtesy: AFP

The referee and Platini wave for a stretcher, with a number of other players surrounding the prostrate Battiston. There was a suggestion he may have lost some teeth.

Astonishingly, the referee hasn’t given a penalty.

France had to make another substitution.

The stretcher was finally on, almost three minutes after the collision. Battiston was still not moving. His right hand is draped limply over the side of the stretcher. Platini took that hand and held it as Battiston is carried off.

“I did not want to hurt him but I would do the same thing again if the action were to recur,” Schumacher told Le Figaro.

“It was the only way to get the ball.”

“I regret that the German delegation and myself didn’t go to the hospital to get the news about Patrick Battiston, Secretly, I feared Battiston was seriously injured, possibly lying in a coma,” he admitted.

“I observed his behaviour, the way he clashed with Dominique Rocheteau and Didier Six,” Battiston said to AFP.

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“I thought he was very hyped up, very excitable. I remarked on this to the other players on the bench.”

“He had no pulse! He looked so pale,” Platini said later on of Battison who had three teeth broken, cracked ribs and broken vertebrae.

“It is a scar that will remain forever,” said Giresse.

“For me, no book or film or play could ever recapture the way I felt that day. It was so complete, so strong, so fabulous,” Platini said in an interview several years later.

“I don’t blame Schumacher, it was the referee,” said Tresor.

“You say Corver is an international referee?” Hidalgo asked afterwards.

“I have my doubts if he risks the safety of players like that.”

Dutch referee Charles Corver. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Dutch referee Charles Corver. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

A goal kick was the outcome despite the most brutal act that ever took place on a World Cup pitch.

No penalty. No free-kick. No red card. Not even a yellow.

“A profound injustice,” squad member Alain Couriol told Metronews before France and Germany met at the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.

“We were convinced the referee would whistle for a foul. Then we saw the state Patrick was in and we were immediately very worried about his health. Is he going to get up? Is his life in danger? After this incident, the team was upset. We no longer thought about the match. We were not focused.”

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The game moved on much to the disgust of France and those who were watching.

France played their game with enough fluidity but the German defence was ragged.

Magath was substituted and he was replaced by Horst Hrubesch.

Amoros ran 60 yards down the left, slips past Kaltz and passed it square to Six, ten yards out just ahead of the near post. He took a touch but then, with defenders converging, mis-hits a feeble shot that Schumacher plunged to save.

Platini and Lopez, the substitute of Battiston, combined to find Six in space on the right. He coaxed a gorgeous, teasing ball in between the defenders and keeper. Schumacher and Rocheteau went flying towards it on the six-yard line. Rocheteau got there a split-second ahead of the keeper and his header hit the chest of Schumacher before dropping tantalisingly in front of goal.

In the added time, Amoros ran forward thirty yards with the ball and then, with the German defenders backpedalling, spotted immortality in the far top corner. He nearly found it by cutting across a stunning 30-yard shot that swerved away from Schumacher and smashed off the crossbar.

Tigana tried to run the ball out of trouble and was dispossessed by Breitner.

He scampered to within 20 yards and then hit a low shot across the goal that bounced just in front of Ettori. He couldn’t hold it diving to his left, and the ball slithered tantalizingly out in front of goal.

It was a race between Fischer and Ettori, who scrambled desperately to his feet. Ettori got there by a split-second, if that, throwing himself forward to punch the ball behind for a corner.

That was the last real-action in normal time.

Both the teams had to play another thirty minutes to settle the score.

Germany come back in extra-time

The French went on with their positive intent and organized display.

Tresor has given France the lead with a brilliant goal.

Briegel was penalized for a foul on Platini just outside the area on the right-wing.

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Giresse’s smartly taken free-kick hit the head of Dremmler in the wall and looped invitingly towards Tresor, in a bizarre amount of space near the penalty spot.

He probably had time to bring the ball down but he had a far more effective option in mind: a screaming volley on the half-turn that scorched into the net.

Rocheteau and Platini moved the ball across the face of the area, finding Six on the left. He teased Kaltz and then stabbed a gentle pass back to Giresse. He stomped towards the ball and cut across a technically immaculate shot that swerved back and pinged in off the inside of the near post.

France 3 Germany 1 and surely, the French were moving to Madrid for the final against Italy.

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But, never underestimate the Germans.

The unfit Rummenigge came into action.

Stielike got away with showing his studs to Bossis on the halfway line and worked the ball neatly out to the left with Rummenigge and Littbarski.

Littbarski, on the left of the box, curled a low ball towards the near post, where Rummenigge, under considerable pressure from Janvion, twisted his body ingeniously to flick it past the advancing Ettori inside the near post.

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In the second half of extra-time, Rummenigge, 40 yards out, waved a square pass to Bernd Forster, who moved forward and found Littbarski in a bit of space on the left.

As Bossis came to meet him he stood up an excellent cross beyond the far post, where Hrubesch leapt imperiously above Janvion.

He was off-balance and unable to go for goal but managed to steer the ball back across the six-yard line.

Fischer fell backwards, stretched a telescopic leg away from goal and steered an overhead kick just inside the post.

France 3 Germany 3!

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With two minutes remaining, Tigana played a tired pass inside the West Germany box and the Germans break.

It was fed to Rummenigge, who swaggers forward and clipped a through-pass towards Fischer with the outside of the right foot.

Tresor gets there first in the D-box and stabs it back towards Ettori – not knowing that Ettori had moved forward towards the ball himself.

Thankfully for France, it was close enough to Ettori that he could dive to his right and claim the ball.

It was almost an own in a comical manner.

Germany win, France lose

The game would now be decided on spot kicks – a new addition to the event.

Stielike missed a penalty with France leading by 3-2 but his agony was diminished when Six missed a penalty that was saved by Schumacher.

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With the score level at 4-4, the penalty taken by Bossis was saved by the villain of the night again – Schumacher.

It was up to Hrubesch to take Germany to Madrid and he did not make any mistake.

The French broke into tears.

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Germany, yet again, came from nowhere and booked a place in the final.

But, it was Italy who would lift the cup at Madrid to the satisfaction of many who disliked Germany after all that happened in Seville.

Schumacher was portrayed as a pathological brute.

The anti-German sentiment was stoked in France. Schumacher beat Adolf Hitler in a newspaper poll of France’s biggest enemies. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was compelled to send a telegram to President Francois Mitterrand. Together they issued a joint statement in an attempt to ease tensions.

“I could not understand the scope of it,” the goalkeeper said.

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“I was a totally apolitical person, but suddenly I was responsible for anti-German resentment flaring up in France. It sounded like I was going to trigger the next war. So much hatred I had never felt before.”

Battiston’s friend arranged a get-together shortly afterwards in Metz so the goalkeeper could apologise for what he had done. It was the day before Battiston’s wedding. Schumacher was armed with a gift and an apology.

There would be no private, face-to-face meeting though.

“They took me into a room,” he said.

“When I opened the door, there were a lot of journalists. I was not expecting that. I apologised. But I was not happy with the way the meeting was organized. It showed on my face.”

The conquest at Seville on July 8, 1982, is still not forgotten by many and has left a deep scar on the French hearts.


Note: Inputs from Guardian UK and Goal

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