Being regarded as the most popular football tournament next tothe World Cup in terms of international prestige, European Championship has become a worldwide sporting platform that is not exempted to major controversies and scandals that marks in the sporting history. Here are some of the most controversial moments that plague in the most successful football event in the word:
EURO 1960: The banned Spain side
The inaugural European Championship, formerly known as the European Nations’ Cup, which took place over the course of 22 months between 1958 and 1960, was comprised of 17 participating nations that are affiliated to UEFA. The tournament was formatted as teams played a home and away leg and the resulting top four would then travelled to France to compete in the finals.
A brilliant Spanish side boasting the likes of legendary Alfredo Di Stefano booked a place in the quarter-finals. However, General Franco banned them from travelling to the USSR, which supported his enemies during the Spanish Civil War. Spain had to forfeit their place in the last eight, and the Soviet Union progressed to the semis. Soviet Union later clinched the title by winning against Yugoslavia 2-1.
Euro 1968: Italy’s win via toss coin
One of the most controversial moments in the history of Euro happened in 1968. Aside from officially calling the tournament “European Championship”, formerly “European Nations’ Cup”, the fairest way to declare a winner through a toss coin happened for the first and only time in history of Euro. It was Italy against the Soviet Union in the semifinals of Euro 1968.
The bizarre moment of determining the winner happened in a separate where Azzurri skipper Giacinto Facchetti and his opposite number Albert Shesternev, accompanied by the referee and two administrators from the two countries to proceed on the coin toss. The Italian side called tails and as the coin flips in the air and landed on the official’s hand – a tail was shown and a winner has been declared.
EURO 1980: English disturbances
In 1980 edition held in Italy, the expansion to eight-nation team tournament was introduced. It was the first edition of Euro with group stage, the last that features a third-place play-off. England under Ron Greenwood did not reach the knockout stage despite having a brilliant squad. They were among the favourites to lift the trophy but knockout in early phase of the game.
Added to their agony were their English fans that were involved in several violent clashes with police before their opening match against Belgium. During the game, the behaviour of the Three Lions supporters forced a five-minute suspension of play, both sides struggling to get back into their rhythm before half-time.UEFA hit the FA with an £8,000 fine for the crowd disturbances.
EURO 1988: Ronald Koeman’s toilet humour
The semi-final clash between the two nations that were not onlyrivals based on previous meetings in the sporting arena. The Dutch were overjoyed after coming from behind to pull off a famous 2-1 victory over fierce rivals West Germany. Following the match, defender Ronald Koeman swapped shirts with German rival Olaf Thon and then pretended to wipe his butt.
Koeman’s actions caused uproar from fans, even his own father who was disgusted with the toilet humour. However, Koemanwas unapologetic with the actions as he displayed zero remorse when questioned about the gesture during his interviews on the issue a few days later. He avoided a potential ban creating a diplomatic incident and played his part in the 2-0 win over the Soviets in the final.