Quite possibly the strangest incident to ever occur at a World Cup happened during the group stages of Espana ’82.
Kuwait were appearing in their first, and to date only, World Cup and had started with a 1-1 draw against Czechoslovakia. They then moved on to play France in their second match of the tournament.
On 21 June 1982, with the French leading 3-1, the bizarre moment came. Alain Giresse netted to put the scoreline at 4-1 but the Kuwaiti defenders had all stopped playing due to apparently hearing what they thought was the referee’s whistle.
The players complained but it was to no avail and referee Miroslav Stupar stood his ground. Prince Fahid, President of the Kuwaiti FA, then entered the pitch and demanded that the goal be disallowed. The Prince signaled for his players to leave the pitch until the referee bowed under the pressure and chalked the goal off, putting the score back to 3-1.
This strange moment didn’t have any effect on the outcome of the match when Maxime Bossis legitimately scored France’s fourth goal in the 89th minute.
After the incident, Prince Fahid was fined and Miroslav Stupar was banned from refereeing whilst Kuwait were beaten 1-0 by England in the next game to end their brief foray into the World Cup.
This is a bizarre and tragic event that apparently happened in the eastern province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo in October 1998.
With the scores level at 1-1, a fork lightning bolt reportedly struck the pitch and killed all eleven Bena Tshadi players instantly. Another 30 people had to be treated for burn injuries but players from visiting Basanga came away from the incident unscathed.
This led to accusations from locals of witchcraft and a curse being responsible for these deaths but information regarding the incident is scarce.
The entire DRC was gripped by civil war when this incident happened so the only report available came from Kinshasa daily newspaper L’Avenir. The report has never been officially confirmed or denied but if true, it is definitely one of the most bizarre incidents to ever happen in world football.
Sergei Shmolik was a top international referee who began officiating in 1993 and had even refereed an England vs Luxembourg friendly at Wembley in 1999. He had a solid reputation in the sport and was even named top referee in Belarus in 2007.
His officiating career came to end the following year after a bizarre incident in July 2008, which saw him drunk in charge of a football match. Shmolik was refereeing a Belarusian Premier League game between Vitebsk and Naftan when he started acting peculiar.
As the second half got underway it appeared the referee had developed a problem in his back, which prevented him from moving around properly. When he started to randomly blow his whistle and make strange gestures, everyone in the ground realized there may be something other than an injury amiss.
As the game approached an end, Shmolik was barely moving and had officiated most of the second half from the center circle. As he was escorted off the pitch, after the game had finished in a 1-1 draw, he started waving to fans whilst having great difficulty standing up.
Tests at the hospital after the match showed that his blood-alcohol level was high and the 43-year-old was banned from refereeing for life.
A friendly match at White Hart Lane between Arsenal and Dynamo Moscow in 1945 was supposed to be just an exhibition, but has gone down in history as one of the most bizarre matches ever played.
With thick fog causing vision impairment, the players requested the game be abandoned. The referee, however, had other ideas and insisted the game go on. This led to both sides flouting the rules and doing whatever they wanted in order to get the desired result.
The Russian side made a substitute without the substituted player ever leaving the pitch. There were even reports that at one stage they had 15 players on the pitch at the same time. The English side was not to be outdone and would also go against the rules of the game.
Firstly, they had a player sent off only for him to return to the field of play later on without the referee even noticing. Then, a supporter was reported to take the place of their goalkeeper, who had knocked himself unconscious after running into the post.
The game eventually finished with Dynamo Moscow winning 4-3. The result didn’t really matter but the game has become more famous than anyone would have predicted beforehand.
On 6 March 1963, Jimmy Whitehouse scored after just 15 seconds as he set Coventry on the way to a brilliant 5-1 victory at Lincoln City.
Nothing bizarre about that, I hear you all say, but this was an FA Cup third-round match that was originally scheduled to be played on 5 January. Heavy snow had started falling across the whole country on Christmas Eve 1962 and had a severe knock-on effect on sporting fixtures.
The pitch at Lincoln’s Sincil Bank ground was covered in several inches of snow, on top of a sheet of solid ice, causing the match to be postponed by the referee after two inspections. It was rescheduled for four days later, but still, there was no let-up in the weather and it was postponed again.
The whole country was stuck in a big freeze and numerous attempts by club staff and local volunteers to get the pitch cleared were to no avail.
Eventually, a lengthy 63 days and record 15 postponements after the original fixture date, the match was played. Coventry City booked their place in the next round and were eventually knocked out in the sixth round, just 24 days after their third-round match was played.
A bizarre incident occurred in the Argentinian football league in 2009/10 when Juventud Alianza took on General Paz Juniors in the qualifying round of the Apertura for the Ronda final at the end of the season.
After General Paz Juniors had won the first leg 2-1, they traveled to Juventud Alianza for the second leg. That match finished with the home side winning 2-1 to level the aggregate scores at 3-3.
A penalty shoot-out would be required to determine the winner and that is where the longest shoot-out in history began.
The first 40 penalties were converted, with the scores level at 20-20. The first miss occurred when Juniors goalkeeper Marcos De Tobillas saved an effort from Ruiz, who had scored the 19th penalty earlier in the shoot-out.
Tobillas then stepped up to take penalty number 42 and struck it past Juventud goalkeeper Gonzalez to give his side the victory.
So, the length of the shoot-out wasn’t the only strange thing about this match. It was also the fact that it came to down to one player saving a penalty and then scoring the next in order for one side to be victorious.
This is the bizarre story of how a heartfelt tribute to a long-time supporter backfired in a humorous way.
Just before the home match against Rossendale in February 1993, Congleton Town’s programme editor Chris Phillips was informed of the death of 85-year-old fan Fred Cope.
Unable to change the programme before distribution, Phillips proceeded to write up a few words that he stapled into the match-day programme. He also organized a minute’s silence before kick-off with club officials.
The funny part of the story occurred just as the players were forming a circle in the middle of the pitch, ready to observe the silence. To the amazement of everyone in the ground, Mr. Cope came walking in to take up his position ready to watch the match.
An embarrassed Phillips quickly changed the minute’s silence to be in tribute to former England captain Bobby Moore, who had died a few days previous. Mr. Cope, although surprised to read his own obituary, went home happy having won a bottle of whiskey and £10 in the half-time draw.
When Aston Villa took on Leicester City at Filbert Street in March 1976, central defender Chris Nicholl broke a record by netting four goals in the game.
Unfortunately for both Nicholl and Villa, two of them were own goals as the Division One match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Scoring in his own net twice gave Leicester a 1-0 and then 2-1 lead, including an unstoppable diving header that Nicholls has said is the best goal he ever scored. He did score up the right end twice as well, earning his side the draw.
Amazingly, those two own goals meant that an Aston Villa defender would end the season as Leicester’s fifth top goalscorer for the campaign.
This funny incident, that occurred in Denmark in 1960, saw a goal disallowed that the referee didn’t even see.
Noerager were leading Ebeltoft 4-3 in the dying seconds when referee Henning Erikstrup went to blow the whistle for full time. Instead of blowing the whistle and ending the match, Erikstrup ended up frantically trying to recover his false teeth that had fallen out at the precise moment he went to blow.
As he averted his eyes from play and bent down to pick his teeth up, Ebeltoft struck an equalizer to apparently level the scores at 4-4.
Erikstrup immediately disallowed the goal, stating that although he hadn’t blown the whistle the 90 minutes were up. As a goal cannot be scored after full time, Noerager were declared 4-3 winners and the Ebeltoft players were furious.
The referee later said he wasn’t watching when the goal went in because he “had to get my teeth back before one of the players put his big foot on them”.
So, as you can see, football is indeed a funny old game. Some of these incidents are so bizarre they seem unreal. But as they say “fact can be stranger than fiction” and that is definitely the case with our list of weird matches.
Header image credit: Georges Bendrihem / AFP
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