Memorable World Cup Moments - Part 2


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Hello and welcome back to my look on my favourite World Cup moments of all time. This is the 2nd and final story. This will be between 1974 and 2006.

1974 – Time-wasting to save lives

Now a candidate for possibly the World Cup’s most bizarre moment.

Some since have mocked Mwepu Ilunga as if he didn’t know the rules of the game but, as alluded to on our magnificent World Cup podcast series (available on iTunes!) there was a much sadder, sinister undercurrent to the incident.

Zaire since 1965 was being ruled under a dictatorship and like dictatorships in Italy and Hungary in the past, the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko took a keen interest in his football team.

Mobutu didn’t go but sent an entourage to the World Cup. They lost 2-0 to Scotland in their first game and were to face Yugoslavia in their second game. Before the game against Yugoslavia arguments broke out over money.

Match payments were not received, leaving players to suspect they had been stolen by the entourage. This led to near mutiny, with several initially refusing to turn out against Yugoslavia.

It was alleged that the tournament's organisers eventually gave the team 3,000 Deutsche Marks apiece to convince them to play, and avoid defiling the World Cup's image.

However, probably due to emotional exhaustion the players gave a limp performance and were battered 9-0 and if anything, it flattered Zaire.

The thrashing led to Mobutu taking direct action in team affairs, sending his presidential guards to threaten the squad with dire consequences if they lost heavily in their next game against Brazil.