How do you punish a football team?
French football star Thierry Henry has been meeting President Nicolas Sarkozy to explain the national team’s disgraceful performance at the World Cup.
The French Football Federation (FFF) has already exacted some punishment for the rows, strikes and lost matches by flying the team home in Economy Class. But there could be more on the way, after a forthcoming meeting of the FFF council.
“Everyone will go before the council, the president, the players, the coach, to see who is responsible. There will probably be sanctions,” said FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes.
But how do you punish a football team? Here are some of the sanctions that have been imposed on teams in other countries.
IRAQ – WORLD CUP QUALIFYING 1994/1998
Saddam Hussain’s son, Uday, head of the Iraqi football federation, employed a unique brand of intimidation when he took charge of the national team’s attempts to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the US and the 1998 World Cup in France.
He had his own prison and torture chambers in the basement of the building of the Iraqi Olympic committee, which he chaired. Reports – rife at the time – that he beat and tortured players were confirmed in 2000 after the defection of Iraq’s star footballer Sharar Haydar.
Uday threatened to cut off players’ legs and throw them to ravenous dogs, according to the Guardian newspaper. A player who missed a practice session, even to attend a sick child or funeral, would be imprisoned. A loss or a draw led to flogging with electric cable – or a bath in raw sewage.
IVORY COAST – AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS 2000
The Ivorian national team were held for three days in a military camp after being eliminated in the first round of the African Cup of Nations. They beat Ghana by a respectable 2-0, but only managed a draw against the much smaller state of Togo and were then thrashed 3-0 by Cameroon.
The players, many on lucrative contracts with European clubs, were shown on state-controlled television being forced to conduct military marches and receiving lectures on discipline.
They were then taken to the capital, Abidjan, for a dressing down from military dictator General Robert Guei.
“I asked that you be taken there so you could reflect a while. You behaved unworthily. You should have avoided us such shame,” General Guei was quoted as saying by the Fraternite Matin newspaper.
“Next time you will stay there for military service. You will be sent to the barracks until a sense of civic pride gets into your heads.”
ITALY – WORLD CUP 1966
The Italians won their first game of the 1966 World Cup against Chile 2-0 but then lost to the USSR 1-0. So they had to win their third and final group game against the “lowly, mysterious men of North Korea”, recalls Rupert Colley, creator of the iPhone app The World Cup in An Hour.
“But, in the 42nd minute, a goal from Pak Doo-Ik rocked the Italian team. Unable to break the Koreans down during a rugged second half, the Koreans held on, the Italians lost, and the world of football reeled in shock. The mighty Italy had been eliminated by a team of unknowns.”
On their arrival home the team were roundly pelted with rotten fruit as they disembarked from their plane. Will their defeat by Slovakia in South Africa expose them to the same revenge from Italian fans?
SOVIET UNION – 1952 OLYMPICS
The Soviet national side were drawn against Yugoslavia in the last 16 of the 1952 Olympics. It was a politically charged moment, as Tito’s Yugoslavia had broken ties with USSR four years earlier, and was making overtures to the West. Yugoslavia was described in the Soviet media as the worst possible kind of traitor.
The match ended in a draw 5-5 and had to be replayed. When the replay ended in a 3-1 defeat for the USSR, Stalin showed his displeasure.
The coach and several players from the leading Soviet club of the day, CDCA, were dropped from the squad. The CDCA club itself was disbanded (it was later reborn as today’s CSK). No mention of the game was made in Soviet reports of the Olympics and all images and footage of the match collected by Soviet photographers and cameramen were destroyed.