There are a few World Cup stories that shouldn’t be lost in the mists of time. Today we remember two more of them. We look back at a game that only lasted three minutes.
Before that we recall how advertising has changed the world of sport over the years when we remember the curious tale of the famous ’Pele Pact.” If we go back to the late 1960’s and a time known in the USA as “The Sneakers War”. Slowly since the end of the 1940’s athletes had changed from being grateful for free shoes given to them by sportswear companies to demanding massive payments for wearing them.
Often they played the companies off against each other. The pressure was relentless. There is a story that Jack Charlton got so fed up with being approached he said he would wear different companies products on each foot in the 1966 World Cup final.
You no doubt will be aware that both Adidas and Puma are controlled by the same family, even if they are not on the best of terms (1) This led to a most strange agreement prior to the 1970 World Cup. The two companies agreed they would not attempt to sign a deal with Pele. The famous ‘Pele Pact’. At that time he was the greatest player on the planet and a major attraction. The companies felt that if they were drawn into a bidding war they would both end up spending more on Pele as well as driving up the price for ’lesser’ players. Thus the cost would exceed what the deals was worth.
This without the knowledge of his head office. This deal has been reported as being, $25,000 for the 1970 World Cup and $100,000 for the next four years (plus a cut of the sales of Pele brand sneakers, which turned out very profitable). At that point Henningsen told the head of Puma. Even having previously agreed the pact Puma now felt this now agreed deal was too good to pass up.
Then came the real sting in the arrangement. Pele wore the Puma boots in the competition. Just before the kicked off, he asked the referee to wait before blowing his whistle as his laces had come undone. He bent down and in full view of worldwide TV he retied his Puma boots.
On a lighter note, have you seen the McDonalds advert above?
Scotland once played a World Cup qualifying game that lasted only 3 minutes! In October 1996 Scotland were due to play an away qualifier with Estonia. In front of 600 Scottish fans they kicked off and scored. The referee then abandoned the game. The Estonian team had not turned up. Initially Scotland believed they would be awarded the game 3-0. As they pointed out post match FIFA rules state "If one team does not report for a match, it shall be considered as having lost and the three points shall be awarded to their opponents with a score of 3-0.” They also cited that when Russia refused to play Chile in 1973 they had been disqualified. FIFA later ruled the game would be replayed in Monaco and that game ended 0-0.
Then at 10am on the day of the match FIFA announced the kick off would be brought forward from the evening till 3pm. The Estonian FA were very unhappy with this change. They complained about the logistical ramifications and the financial losses. At 2pm there was still only one team in the stadium. 3pm arrived, incidentally the electric scoreboard still showed kickoff at 6.45 that evening. The Scottish captain shook hands with the Yugoslav officials as per FIFA protocol. The whistle went, the goal was scored and the game abandoned.
The Estonians issued a statement claiming they were unable to comply with the changes because of several factors. Their players were part timers, (surely they were not working that afternoon and then playing) and a pre- match meal had been arranged in Kethna, outside the city.
The strangest part of the event occurred at 5pm that evening after the Scots had gone home when the home team turned up to play the game.
Notes - 1 - The rivalry between the family members and their companies has been well documented over the years. It is well worth a read if you like the dirty tricks and underhanded dealings in the Sports industry. The most recent book on the subject was by Barbara Smit and called “The Sneaker Wars’ and in some markets “Pitch Invasion.”
Tomorrow - On the eve of this summers competition a story you wont want to miss “ The Unknown Spur who was a World Cup star and Hall of Fame inductee.”
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