In August 1960 FIFA awarded the 1966 World Cup to England to celebrate the centenary of the standardisation of football (the Football Association celebrated it’s centenary in 1963).
It was to be a tournament steeped in controversy. João Havelange (FIFA president 1974–1998) has famously claimed that the outcome of both this and the 1974 tournament were arranged to favour the hosts, citing mutually favourable decisions by European officials against South American teams.
Let’s look at some of the controversies:
Pele was already injured before Brazil’s crucial match with Portugal, but English referee George McCabe allowed Morais’ coup de grace assault to go unpunished.
In the quarter-finals West Germany beat Uruguay 4–0 after the referee (Jim Finney, of England) ignored a German goal line handball and then sent off two Uruguayans.
More notorious was the quarter-final referred to in Argentina as el robo del siglo (the steal of the century) which England won 1-0 thanks to an offside goal. In the 35th minute, angered by the way in which the game was being handled, Argentina captain Antonio Rattín approached the referee (Rudolf Kreitlein of Germany). Rattin spoke no German, Herr Kreitlin no Spanish. Rattin indicated his captain’s armband and tried to ask for an interpreter so that his grievances could be made clear.Herr Kreitlin ordered him from the pitch. British newspapers cited ‘violence of the tongue’ as the reason for dismissal, although the referee reportedly said that he didn’t like how Rattín had looked at him. An incensed Rattin was escorted from the pitch by police . The most famous controversy was to come in the England v West Germany final. At 2-2 in the first period of extra time referee Gottfried Dienst of Switzerland awarded a controversial goal to England following consultation with his Soviet linesman Tofik Bakhramov.When later asked how he could be sure that the ball had crossed the line, Bakhramov replied ‘Stalingrad’. England’s fourth goal was also controversial in that spectators had come onto the pitch.
Surprise package of the tournament were North Korea, who led Portugal 3-0 in the quarter finals before the outstanding player of the tournament, Eusebio, rescued the Portuguese.
Controversy aside, Geoff Hurst recorded the only ever hat trick in a final, and workmanlike England boasted truly world class players in Gordon Banks , captain Bobby Moore and the dynamic Bobby Charlton.