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Biggest Controversies in European championship history

General Franco stops Spain from participating at the 1960 Euro

Back in the day when the continental European competition was first played, the map of Europe looked a whole lot different than it does today. In fact, the European Championship or Euros were then known as the European Nations’ Cup and there used to be only four teams in the finals.

Read about the first European tournament: Euro 1960: A look back at the 1960 European Nations’ Cup

In those days, the host country for the tournament was chosen only after the four qualifiers were decided. During the qualification rounds, General Francisco Franco refused to send Spain to the Soviet Union for their second round game as the Soviets were the main supporters of the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War.

As a consequence, the Soviet Union went through to the last four with a bye and competed for the European honours with Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the hosts France. Going back to the European map, three of the four countries at the inaugural edition of the competition no longer exist under the same name or the same borders.

The Soviets made full use of their bye, and went on to win the tournament, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final.


The potato-quality highlight video of the Euro 1960 final. Video courtesy: Goal TV

Emotions get the better of Ronald Koeman

The Netherlands have endured some of the cruelest days in football. Led by the irrepressible Johan Cruyff, they were the favourites to take home the World Cup in 1974, but failed at the last hurdle against the hosts West Germany.

Four years later, they were again in the final and were just a Rob Resenbrink miscued shot away from taking the game into extra time but it, again, wasn’t going to be their day.

When they faced their great rivals West Germany in the semi-final of the 1988 Euros the emotions were running high. After going 1-0 down in the 55th minute, the Dutch rallied to secure a 2-1 win courtesy of a 74th minute successful spot kick from Koeman and an 88th minute winner from Marco van Basten.

The emotions after the final whistle were hard to contain for the Dutch and in the heat of the moment, or more likely, the sheer ecstasy of the situation, Koeman got carried away and was seen rubbing his behind with West Germany’s Olaf Thon’s shirt – which he had exchanged after the final whistle.


Needless, to say it raised a massive hue and cry and even Koeman’s father condemned his son’s behaviour.

Did Denmark and Sweden give Italy a taste of their own biscotto?

In Italy when two teams conspire to play out a mutually beneficial scoreline, the act is labelled biscotto (biscuit).

Heading into the final group games at the 2004 European Championship, the equation was poised as such that Italy had to win their last group game and hope for anything but a draw higher than 1-1 between Denmark and Sweden for the Azzurri to make the knock out stages.

As it turned out, Italy won their game but finished third as the Scandinavian neighbours played out a 2-2 draw to secure their spots in the quarter-finals.

The Italians cried hoarse, but to no avail. To lend credence to their conspiracy theory, it later came out that there were unusually high bets placed for a 2-2 draw between the Scandinavians. Coincidence? Perhaps.

2004 (June 22) Denmark 2-Sweden 2 (European… by sp1873

The Highlights of the match between Sweden and Denmark which ended 2 – 2.

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