Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It seems to me today, that the World Cup heavily clouded the rest of football in 1970. On the level of national teams the status quo somehow remained unshaken, but it was not so on club level. There were interesting winds blowing in domestic championships and international club tournaments. Looking south, nothing new… if the old Intercontinental Cup is considered, it was competition in crisis, tainted by violence from its very beginning. South American clubs dominated, but playing dirty. It was one thing when the European club was Latin – they played dirty too. Celtic and Manchester United, however, were outraged when they faced argentine clubs in 1967 and 1968. The whole atmosphere was poisonous on and off the pitch. The South Americans won both years after ugly games. In 1970 it was Feyenoord vs Estudiantes (La Plata). Feyenoord won, but the brutality remained. Next year Ajax refused to play and the runners-up Panathinaikos replaced them. Ajax refused to play in 1973 as well. Bayern, not shrinking violets themselves, refused to play in 1974. In 1975 the Cup was not contested at all, as well as in 1978. Liverpool refused to play in 1977; Nottingham Forest in 1979… The tournament – supposedly the highest world club competition – was dying and was saved by Japan in 1980, when instead of two-leg (home and away) final one match was to be played in neutral Tokyo. It was good promotion of football in the country of the Rising Sun and seized the endless violence and mean trickery of South American clubs (for instance, Cruyff received death threats in Argentina in 1972 and had to be guarded by teammates.) The Intercontinental Cup was not football, it was war.
Unbecoming for a King – Pele (Santos) fights with Inter (Milano) players in 1963. The ugly tradition was established early.
Typical scene of Intercontinental Cup – Celtic (Glasgow) and Racing Club (Avellaneda, Buenos Aires). Three games were needed for Racing Club to prevail – two of them in South America.
Manchester United lost to Estudiantes (La Plata) in 1969. In what sport they lost, though?