crazy stories of qualifying for the World Cup

Salvador 1970, when football went to war

We continue with El Salvador’s 1970 World Cup qualifiers. Selecta pits itself against Honduras for the prized sesame seeds. A meeting smelling of powder
: Tensions are high between the two Central American countries.

El Salvador is small, densely populated, and land is very unequally distributed between large landowners and peasants. As a result, many Salvadorans leave their country for neighboring Honduras, which is larger and less populated. Tensions between the native population and the immigrants have been rising, exacerbated by the two countries’ leaders and the media.

It is in this context that the first two matches are played: the first match in Honduras and the return match in El Salvador. Violence ensues around the latter: Honduran supporters are assaulted and a major brawl ensues with two casualties.

Revenge does not last long: in their own country, Hondurans violently attack Salvadoran immigrants. Riots occur, several people die, and there is no reaction from the state authorities.

With both countries winning a game, the final takes place in Mexico City as both sides’ media fan the flames. New violence surrounds him, creating new victims. El Salvador wins, but the Hondurans cry foul.

The two parties are openly critical of each other, especially through the voices of their governments. A few hours after the meeting, skirmishes took place on the border of the two countries. The war finally broke out three weeks later, lasting four days and killing nearly 3,000 people. Before the intervention of the Organization of American States.

In the history books, it’s called the Hundred Hour War or the football war, even if sports were the catalyst for already high tensions. El Salvador would eventually be eliminated from the group stage after losing three matches.

Trinidad and Tobago 2006, obstacle course

If there’s one hard-won World Cup qualifier, it’s Trinidad and Tobago for 2006. The small Caribbean island nation had to play 20 games in the qualifying round qualified for the first and only world championship in its history.

After defeating the Dominican Republic in the first round (2-0 and 4-0), the Trinidadians go through two group stages, play six or ten games and offer a particularly prestigious victory against Mexico (2-1).

Finally, they finished fourth in the Concacaf qualifiers, offering themselves a play-off match against Bahrain, who finished fifth in the Asian zone.

The two teams neutralized each other in the first game held in Trinidad and Tobago (1:1). The return match was in favor of the guests and they won with a score of 0:1. After 20 matches (11 wins, 2 draws, 7 losses) between June 13, 2004 and November 16, 2005, here it is: The Trinidadians have qualified!

Despite the competition’s Tom Thumb status, they managed to draw with Sweden and held on against England, only conceding after 75 minutes of play. They were eventually eliminated from the group after losing to Paraguay in their final match. The World Cup was winless, but they held their heads high.

Cuba and Netherlands East Indies 1938 series packs

The third World Cup organized in 1938 brought fifteen teams together in France. Among these are, for the first time, a particularly Cuban and Asian selection: the Dutch East Indies.

If that doesn’t ring a bell, know that these are Dutch-colonized islands in Southeast Asia that will become Indonesia after independence in a few years. But in 1938 it was really a colony of the Netherlands.

These World Cup qualifiers remain the only ones in the history of the two countries to have been achieved under impossible conditions.

35 countries signed up for tickets, but eight withdrew in protest at the competition being held in Europe.. Among them, the only competitor of East India for the Asian zone is Japan. FIFA then decided to arrange a play-off with the USA… which in turn was forfeited! And whoop, this archipelago qualified for the World Cup without playing!

Cuba also took advantage of this American withdrawal, while Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador and Dutch Guiana became the first Caribbean country to participate in the World Cup. Brazil and Romania, who played in the previous World Cups, also qualified without playing the qualifying stages thanks to this cascade of packages.

Germany(s) 1974, characters story

In the middle of the Cold War, the 1974 World Cup was held in the Federal Republic of Germany, West Germany. And for the first (and only) time it appears among the qualifiers… German Democratic Republic, East Germany.

In January, a draw is made to divide the 16 teams on the starting line into four groups. Then the GDR inherits Australia, but above all from Chile, where the Pinochet junta overthrew its socialist government, and from rival West Germany. East Germany beat the Australians, then drew with Chile before a famous shocker.

This RFA-RDA match will take place on June 22. West Germany, the current European champion, is a big favorite.

But against all odds, East won thanks to Jurgen Sparwasser’s goal. The end of the match is symbolic: the GDR players take a stadium tour at the packed Volksparkstadion in Hamburg.

A unique meeting between two Germanys (except for Olympic qualifiers), this RFA-RDA is more a symbol of appeasement than an ideological conflicttwo years after the signing of the main treaty, which mutually recognized the sovereignty of the two states.

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