Tuesday, June 2, 2020

1982 World Cup: Michel Hidalgo, the sheikh and diplomatic arbitration

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It is 6:50 pm on June 21, 1982. Defeat by England, for its entry into the 1982 World Cup (3-1), France, by Michel Hidalgo, disappeared this Thursday at 87 years, clearly dominates the modest Kuwait, of which it is the first participation in a World Cup. There are barely more than ten minutes to play and the Blues, thanks to Genghini, Platini and Six, thus have a clear advantage of two goals.

The chronometer of the Valladolid stadium (Spain) marks the 79th minute when Giresse, after a gem of a two with Platini, scored the 4th goal. The arbitrator validates it despite the protests of the Kuwaitis. The object of their wrath: before the last pass, a whistle from the stands of the José-Zorrilla stadium was very clearly heard. He lured everyone.

On the images, we can clearly see Giresse hesitating when the opposing defenders, they stop squarely, believing in an offside. The players of the Emirate then turn their eyes to the tribune where a man gestures. He even ends up leaving his seat to enter the field in defiance of all regulations. They are Sheikh Fahad al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, the emir’s younger brother, president of the Kuwait Football Association and the Kuwait Olympic Committee.

Drunk with rage, he urges his players to leave the pitch. The Soviet referee Myroslav Stupar comes to meet him, takes the advice of his linesman, then decides, in an atmosphere to say the least confused, to cancel the goal. Revolted by what he considers a denial of justice, the coach of the tricolors, Michel Hidalgo, in turn enters the field. But he was brutally pushed back… by members of the Guardia Civil who forced him to turn back. “I am sure that if I had been dressed differently or if I had been someone else, they would not have opposed my passage,” he said after the match. The meeting, it will finally resume and end with a goal from Maxime Bossis, the only one in his international career, in 76 caps.

The sad end of the sheikh

A few weeks later, Fifa will strike the referee for life for giving in to pressure and Sheikh Fahad al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah will be reprimanded for his unsportsmanlike conduct. The latter has a tragic end. Eight years after these events, in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, which was the source of the first Gulf War. Despite the events, British Airways decided to maintain flight 149, which was to fly from London to Kuala Lumpur with a stopover in Kuwait. From there, the plane will never depart. The 367 passengers are taken hostage. One of them was immediately spotted by Saddam Hussein’s militia: the sheikh. He is killed before his body is exposed in the public square.

VIDEO. Death of Michel Hidalgo: June 28, 1984, the coach reacts to his victory in the European Cup

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