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The Dirtiest Matches of All Time (Part Two)

Continuing the series which looks at some of the most dirty and violent games of g\football ever seen.

(For Part One please click here)

The Battle of Santiago 1962

Chile were the hosts for the 1962 World Cup, and they were drawn in the same group as Italy.

Before the meeting of the two sides on 2nd June, tensions between the two countries had already been damaged by the reporting of two Italian journalists, Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli, who had described the South American country and its infrastructure in highly derogatory terms to readers back home, and stating that the local population were prone o malnutrition, poverty, alcoholism and illiteracy.

When their pieces were translated and published un Chile, there was outrage. An Argentine journalist who was mistaken for one of them was attacked and beaten up so badly that he had to be hospitalised, whilst the two Italians were forced to flee the country.

It took just 12 seconds of the game for the first foul to be committed, and within eight minutes Giorgio Ferrini of Italy was sent off for a foul on Honorino Landa. He refused to leave the pitch, however, and had to be dragged off by policemen.

Meanwhile, the English referee Ken Ashton took no action when Chilean outside left Leonel Sánchez decked Italian right-back Mario David, in retaliation for an earlier foul.  But when David them attempted to kick Sánchez in the head, he saw that and sent the Italian off.

Sánchez continued to act with impunity, breaking Humberto Maschio’s nose with a  left hook, with the Italians feeling they were on the wrong end of nearly all the big refereeing calls.

That was by no mean the end of the violence, with the two teams continuing to engage in scuffles and punches, and there was a lot of spitting going on as well.  

For the record, Chile won the match 2 – 0 and would go on to reach the final, where they lost to Brazil.

When highlights of the game were later shown on British television, presenter David Coleman warned viewers that what they were about to see was probably the “most stupid, appalling, disgusting, and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.

Ashton, who was widely regarded as one of the best referees at the time, took his share of the blame for what happened and he never officiated in another World Cup match again.

Some good came of it, though. He was appointed Head of Refereeing for the 1966 World Cup in England, and, after that too was marred by some nasty challenges, he came up with a solution.

Driving his car one day, he stopped at traffic lights and was suddenly struck by the use of red and amber. That inspired him to come up wit the idea of yellow and red cards, which were first introduced in the 1970 World Cup.  

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