We’ll admit it — we got caught up in the World Cup hysteria this year. We got sucked into the hype surrounding Team USA. And, even after the Americans were eliminated, we continued to follow the tournament and will watch Sunday’s final with interest.
What do you notice when you watch a lot of professional soccer? That the players cheat.
Dirty elbows go unnoticed. Tripping goes on without a yellow card being issued. And yellow cards often aren’t issued because players flop. A lot.
Be honest: when Brazil’s Neymar went down after getting kneed in the back, how many of you just assumed he was acting?
We felt a bit guilty when Neymar’s injury turned out to be a fractured vertebrae. But that guilt doesn’t extend to the extreme acting that we witness dozens of times each game.
So in the spirit of cheating we remember the 1989 soccer team from Chile, which was attempting to qualify for the 1990 World Cup against Brazil in a game played at Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro.
Chile needed a win to advance to the World Cup. All Brazil needed was a tie. And with Brazil holding a 1-0 late in the second half, and playing conservatively, all hell broke loose when a flare exploded on the field near Roberto Rojas, the Chile goalie.
Rojas was covered in blood, the players from Chile complained. Since the game was in Rio de Janeiro, and the flare likely came from the home section of the crowd. Chile left the field, saying the conditions were unsafe. And Brazil appeared on the verge of being eliminated.
But photographers on the field noticed that the flare never came close to Rojas. And one photographer was able to capture where the flare hit – although it wasn’t until the next day that the image was developed.
So where did the blood on Rojas come from, if not the flare? The goalkeeper cut himself on the face with a razor blade that had been hidden in his glove.
Brazil was eventually awarded the game, 2-0 and advanced to the 1990 World Cup where it lost to Argentina in the Round of 16.
Chile, in addition to the loss in the 1989 World Cup qualifying game, was banned from the 1994 World Cup.
And Rojas was banned from soccer for life.
Incredibly, Rojas now lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil. According to CNN, he was hired by a team in Sao Paulo in 1993 to work as a goalkeeper coach, and continues to live there.