Sep  9, 1997	A theorem on conspiracy theories (Marco Paserman)
------------	-------------------------------------------------
Apr 27, 1998	Codesal and the 1990 WC Final (Bruce Scott)
Apr 29, 1998	Juventus and bribery allegations (Marco Paserman)

Subject: A theorem on conspiracy theories
Date: 9 Sep 1997 15:58:55 GMT
From: (Marco Paserman)

A theorem on conspiracy theories and refereeing mistakes.

At the moment this is only a conjecture, I'm not the sure
the proof would pass the rigid standards needed for a true
mathematical theorem. Anyway, here goes:

THEOREM: For any whining conspiracy theory you can think of,
there is always a better, strictly footballing, argument that can
explain the outcome of a football event.

Following are some famous WC examples:

1) Italy-Chile 0-2, 1962.
 Conspiracy Theory: As every Italian football fan learns at birth, 
 the Chileans brutalized the Italians throughout the whole
 game, but the English referee sent off two totally innocent 
 Italian players, thus handing the game to the hosts.

 Footballing Theory: That Italian team was a bunch of nobodys
 and old-timers, that would have gone nowhere anyway. IIRC, they 
 were also easily beaten by the USSR

2) WC '66 Quarterfinals: England-Argentina, Germany-Uruguay (or
  was it the opposite?)
 Conspiracy Theory: FIFA assigned a German referee to the England 
 game, and an English referee to the Germany game. They conspired
 to kick the South Americans out of the WC, by gratuitously sending
 off South American players for no reason.

 Footballing Theory: Maybe, just maybe, Argentina and Uruguay
 played a rather rough type of football at the time (see also 
 Intercontinental Cups of that period) and the sending offs were

3) England-Germany 4-2, WC 1966
 Conspiracy Theory: Hurst's decisive goal that put England ahead
 in extra-time never crossed the line. It was all a conspiracy
 to make the inventors of the game win the WC on home soil.

 Footballing theory: People are still debating, with sophisticated
 technology, whether the ball crossed the line or not. 
 Human error was more than just a possibility in this occasion.
 Also, the Germans still had plenty of time to recover, but instead
 let England score a 4th goal.

4) Argentina-Peru 6-0, WC 1978
 Conspiracy Theory: Argentina was allowed to play its decisive game
 against Peru knowing exactly what result they needed to qualify for 
 the final. Argentinian born Peru goalkeeper Quiroga let in 6.

 Footballing Theory: Peru were already demotivated at the end of a 
 successful WC campaign. Argentina was an inspiring team, that would
 probably been able to score 4 against them anyway. Indeed they scored 6.

5) Italy-Brazil 3-2, WC 1982
 Conspiracy Theory: Gentile was allowed to repeatedly brutalize Zico.
 He even tore his shirt inside the penalty area (says something about
 Brazilian materials) but the ref whistled played on.

 Footballing Theory: Why would anyone conspire to kick Brazil (the best
 team I have ever seen) out of the WC is a mystery. Also, if Brazil
 only had a striker, any striker, to convert into goal all the beautiful
 moves created by Falcao, Zico, Socrates, and Junior, instead of
 Serginho, they would have won easily, no matter what Gentile did.
 Finally, in the same match Antognoni had a goal disallowed for an 
 inexistent offside, and Rossi was also pulled down inside the box.

6) France-Germany 3-3 WC 1982
 Conspiracy Theory: German goalkeeper Schumacher attempts to kill
 Battiston, and doesn't even get a yellow card. Germany goes on to 
 win on penalties.
 Footballing Theory: Schumacher is a dirty bastard, but at the time,
 that kind of foul was not punishable with a red card. France had 
 more than a fair chance of winning by going ahead 3-1 in extra time.
 Instead they choked.

7) Argentina-England 2-1 WC 1986
Conspiracy Theory: Maradona punches the ball in to give Argentina
the lead. The Hand of God.

Footballing Theory: As Ariel has pointed out repeatedly, Maradona's
handball was not as clear and obvious as some people would have it,
even to the TV camera. In addition, Shilton has to bear some of the 
blame for being unable to jump higher, arms outstretched, than 
Maradona's head. 
8) Brazil-Holland 3-2, WC 1994 
Conspiracy Theory: Brazil scores two goals on two dubious offside
decisions. Holland fights back to equalize. Brazilian Branco then
fouls some Dutch guy and is awarded a free kick in his favor 35 meters
from goal, which he converts to give Brazil the definitive lead.
It was all obviously a part of the Havelange plot to give Brazil
its 4th WC.

Footballing Theory: Where was the Dutch defence on the first two goals?
The decisive free kick was hardly in a "dangerous" position, yet
the Dutch goalkeeper could do nothing about it.

9) Italy-Spain 2-1, WC 1994
Conspiracy Theory: Tassotti elbows Luis Enrique in the nose inside 
the area in the final minute, away from the ball, but the ref and linesman 
miss the event and let play continue.

Footballing Theory: Tassotti is a dirty cheating bastard (see Schumacher)
with an ugly nose, and also a Milanista, but he committed a clever foul
that the ref (excellent throughout the match) had no chance of seeing.
The real difference bewteen Italy and Spain had nothing to do with Sandor
Puhl and everything to do with the difference between Roberto Baggio and
Julio Salinas (see Serginho), between Pagliuca and Zubizarreta.

And I could go on and on...

Subject: Re: A theorem on conspiracy theories
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 1997 22:23:49 -0500
From: Paul Mettewie (

Tassotti -- I always thought of the Isaac Asimov Foundation 
Trilogy character called "The Mule" when I saw Tassoti! 
Boy, my nose ain't small, but it ain't got nothing on
that honker. Che nasone! 

And the game was not decided by that non-call by Puhl.
Unlike the horrendous no call by Rothlisberger against
Belgium that cost them a chance at extra time with a 
less than impressive Germany. That was not conspiracy,
that was just horrid officiating.

And, by the way, Daniele, how do we not know your post
is not part of a conspiracy, eh? Eh? I don't hear an
answer! Come on, where were you when Elvis died? Or
when Kennedy was shot (okay, you probably weren't 
born, but that's still no excuse!!!!) Answers, Paserman!

Were you "in country" when Moro was kidnapped? Huh?!?!

-Riff"We demand answers!!!"Ster

Subject: Re: A theorem on conspiracy theories
Date: 10 Sep 1997 13:11:22 +0200
From: (Bruce Scott TOK)

Gustaaf Van Moorsel ( wrote:

> I never thought it was physically possible for the ball to have crossed
> the line at all, until recently, in some Mexican league game, the ball
> hit the crossbar,  bounced back *absolutely* behind the line, and then
> bounced *out* of the goal!  There was no controversy, because the
> ball was headed in again immediately, but it changed my view on the
> 1966 Wembley goal.

Well, there's backspin, friction between the ball and crossbar, and
between ball and ground, and all that :-)

Another clear goal like this was the one that Romania had disallowed
against Spain in England '96.  The ball was at least its own diameter
behind the line when it hit the ground, and then it bounced out at about
30 degrees to the vertical.

The referee simply couldn't believe it :-)

Subject: Re: A theorem on conspiracy theories
Date: 10 Sep 1997 11:29:39 GMT
From: (Karel Stokkermans)

Wasn't that against Bulgaria?  Who had a valid goal disallowed in their
match against Spain, who in turn had a valid goal disallowed against
England (and a penalty not given), while England of course suffered from
that debatable penalty given to the Swiss...  And then the two penalties
not given to the Netherlands, one against Scotland, one against France...

Plenty of dubious or downright wrong calls, yet I haven't heard anyone
crying conspiracy then...  Now of course, Croatia playing their B-side
against Portugal, that *was* a clear example of unsporting behaviour, to
put it mildly.  Were they bribed?

Subject: Re: A theorem on conspiracy theories
Date: 10 Sep 1997 04:34:42 GMT
From: (Marco Paserman)


After all these compliments, I think it's time to post something pointless,
stupid, and totally unrelated to football to be reintegrated in the RSS

Here is a list of true reasons behind Diana's death:

1) It was the monarchy who did it to get rid of her uncomfortable persona.
2) The anti-monarchist movement did it to undermine the Royals.
3) Camilla so she could marry Charles.
4) Charles so he could avoid marrying Camilla.
5) The anti-personnel-land-mine industry for obvious reasons
6) The world press so they could make more money out of a week of intensive
    Diana coverage
7) The anti drink and driving lobby
8) BMW, Volvo and Lexus to illustrate Mercedes' poor security performance.
9) Elton John, so he could revive a dying career
10) This one I like best: the guy who bought one of her evening gowns two months
   ago at an auction for $25,000, and posted yesterday an ad on the Wall Street
   Journal asking $250,000 for it. Talking of good investments...

Disclaimer: The above list was intended as a source of humour in these gloomy times,
and I apologize if I offended anyone's sensibility.

Subject: Re: Codesal of the Week
Date: 27 Apr 1998 13:28:08 +0200
From: (Bruce Scott TOK)

Ariel Mazzarelli wrote:
>Howard H. Hamilton dixit:
>>Ariel, I don't get it.  Who's Codesal? 
>He was the referee in the Italia '90 final between Germany and Argentina.

Ah, you are still complaining about that.  I just saw a replay of this
game on Eurosport, and I have to say it was a matter of a ref in over
his head, not able to control a game of fever pitched emotion.  The game
was that way because Argentina had got there by playing a tactically
brilliant World Cup campaign, winning several matches in which they were
hugely outplayed but simply smarter than the enemy -- that is, they were
playing over their heads but had a clear chance to win.  They were up
against that other "tournament team" which meant that both teams were
prepared to try anything to win, and the referee really had to be on top
of his task. The poor Mr Codesal was, unfortunately, not.

Argentine fans usually complain about three things: Monzon's red card
against Klinsmann, Voeller's penalty, and the second red card (name too
similar to "Menotti" for me to remember) for a neck-wrap foul against
Kohler at the end of the game.  But in my mind the referee lost control
of the match well before any of this happened, simply because he himself
was too emotional when he called anything, and he failed to properly
distribute cards and cautionary remarks during the escalation phase.
Had he been up to his task, it is likely that none of the fouls in the
later phase (60' and after), some of which were called and some of which
were not, would have happened.

All that being said, I have to say I agree with both red cards -- Monzon
slid into Klinsmann with outstretched feet (the sort of thing Ariel is
rightly indignant about when it happens in a Spanish league match) and
had Klinsmann not jumped early he would have had his leg broken.  In any
case there was plenty of contact between spikes and leg, and in my mind
even the intent of such a rude challenge should be penalised with a red
card.  The second red card came on a play Kohler should have got yellow
for -- time wasting.  After a stoppage Kohler picked the ball up and
walked nonchalantly towards his goal for a few steps before tossing the
ball back to the Argentine player but before doing that he was grabbed
by the neck and thrown down.  Yes, correct red card for retaliation.
Once again, however, both these fouls occurred due not only to the
charged emotions but also to the fact that the referee had let many
instances of rude challanges and other unfair play before that, and so
the level of the match was already where it should not have been.

The Voeller penalty as we all know was a dive, but it was the sort of
taking-advantage situation that you do when the referee will let you --
exactly as in Maradona's Hand of God goal in 1986.  Ariel should not
defend one and condemn the other at that reveals him as the partisan fan
he (or course) is.  There were two occasions to call a penalty before
that one, one for each side.  But that is a matter of crap refereeing,
not partisanship.  Had the referee been partisan he would have awarded
the first penalty to Augenthaler (which occurred before the other
non-call) and the 1-0 would have simply fallen sooner.

All in all a crap match with light advantage to Germany, who choked
several chances in the second half (the best was Littbarski's,

Subject: Juve's long history of dubious(?) wins (long) (was:Re: (R) Juventus - Inter
Date: 29 Apr 1998 14:08:48 GMT
From: (Marco Paserman)

Steve Jones writes:

>Not according to a Roma supporting friend of mine who claims that Juve
>were handed the title by the ref in that season as well.  Anymore details
>on that ?

Well, Roma fans are among the most bitter Juve haters, so I wouldn't
rely on their opinion too much. They do have some point in their
bitterness, because of the 1980/81 season, when Juve took the scudetto 
away from Roma  thanks (in part) to a bad refereeing mistake.
But your average Roma fan will claim that every single Juventus
victory since the beginning of time is tainted, and that is 
plainly unfair.

Anywhere, here's how the story went:

1980-81 season:
Italian football is in shambles. It's the first season after the 
huge match fixing scandal that saw Milan and Lazio relegated to Serie B.
Paolo Rossi, Giordano, Manfredonia, Albertosi, new and old glories
of italian football, are banned.
Italy has not been able to do better than 4th place in the European
Championship hosted at home. Italy's UEFA coefficient has sunk below that
of Switzerland, Belgium, and other notorious football powerhouses.
As a partial remedy, the Italian FA decides to reopen the frontiers
and allow one foreign player per team. The first wave of foreigners
to come is not particularly impressive. The only true stars are Falcao
for Roma, and Rudi Krol for Napoli. Juve has bought Irishman Liam Brady,
who had helped Arsenal kick Juve out of the CWC semifinal the previous year.

Roma has a nice team based around goalkeeper Tancredi, defender Nela, 
midfielders Ancelotti and Falcao, winger Bruno Conti and centerforward
Roberto Pruzzo, one of Italy's best strikers in the late '70s and early 
'80s (although he never really hit it with the national team).
They had won the Italian Cup the previous year, and they go on to take
an early lead in the championship race. Napoli is also fighting strong.

Juventus, after a very slow start, comes back strong in the second part of
the season, and with five games to go there is a three-way tie at the top.
Juve is facing soon to be relegated Perugia at home. It should be an easy 
win, but Perugia go ahead in the first half. Then strange things start
to happen. Juventus and Italy striker Bettega (who is now one of
Juve's managers, responsible for some shamefully unsportsmanlike 
declarations after the Juve-Inter game) allegedly begs (tries to bribe?)
the Perugia defenders to stop playing hard and to let Juve win.
With 15 minutes to go, Juve equalizes, but the goal came following a cross
where the ball had already passed the goal line. Hell breaks loose, as the 
Perugia players feel robbed and insulted, but Juve goes on to win the
game 2-1, and captures the lead in the scudetto race, thanks to Roma's draw
and Napoli's defeat against Udinese.
Bettega is suspended until the end of the season for his declarations. This
leaves Juve's attack frightfully depleted, as Causio had also been injured
or left out of the team for most of the season. Juve has to rely on such stars
as Marocchino and Fanna for delivering the goals. 

With 3 matches left in the season, Juve is still ahead by one point and
hosts Roma in what is obviously the match of the season. It's a wet and
gray May day in Turin. Juve officials allegedly water the pitch before
the match, to obstruct the more technical giallorossi (this is a romanista
myth, I believe). It's an ugly match, with not much going on in either
direction except fouls. Juve captain and heart and soul of the team Furino
is sent off. With about 10 minutes to go, a ball is lobbed into the Juve 
area: Falcao heads it towards Roma libero Turone, 
who finds himself alone against Zoff, and scores what looks like the 
scudetto winning goal. But referee Paolo Bergamo disallows following an
indication from his linesman that Turone was offside. TV replays
later show that Turone was onside by about 30 centimeters. The game ends
0-0, and Juve retains the lead. 

The scudetto race is still effectively wide open, with only one point
separating Juve and Roma, and Juve having to face a very tough away 
match in Napoli, which, thanks to the draw in Turin, has regained hopes 
of winning the scudetto. Roma hosts relegated Pistoiese (the team of
the famous Luis Silvio, Cagao's brother, the worst ever foreigner
to play in the Italian League) and wins comfortably. Juve wins in
Napoli thanks to a goal by Verza, and crushes the southern team's
faint scudetto hopes once more.

In the last game of the season, Juve hosts Fiorentina, knowing that
a win will guarantee its 19th scudetto. Roma plays away to Avellino 
but can only get a draw. Cabrini scores as Juve wins 1-0 and conquers
the scudetto.

Today, Italian fans still cite Turone's goal as the prototypical
example of all of Juve's robberies. Did Juventus steal that scudetto?
Well, clearly the Turone episode helped, but it is hard to know what
would have happened after that (one possibility: Roma crumbles under
the pressure when facing Pistoiese at home, as happened to them only
five years later in an analogous situation). The disallowing of Turone's
goal can be attributed to human fallibility (remember that Bergamo
had earlier sent off the Juve captain, certainly not a sign of
striking pro-Juve bias), and there had also been some decisions in that
championship that went against Juve (Juve players contested heavily
Agnolin's refereeing in the derby against Torino). Certainly
not every contested decision was one-sided as this year.
The 1980-81 Juve team was maybe not one of the best to wear 
the black and white stripes but it had a lot of guts and huevos.
I have always seen the whining by the Roma fans as excessive.

Allegations about other champiosnhips won thanks to referees' help
are even more absurd. The 1981-82 champiosnhip was  also a very tight 
race. Juve and Fiorentina reached the last game on level points.
Juve beat Catanzaro with an undisputable (and undisputed) penalty
transformed by Brady (ball stopped on the line by a Catanzaro
defender with his hands to prevent a sure goal), while Fiorentina could 
go no further than 0-0 against Cagliari. A goal by Daniel Bertoni 
of Fiorentina was rightly disallowed. And, over the course of the season
there was no doubt about who was the better team.

Juve also won in 1984 (no contested decision there), in 1986 (Roma committing
suicide against Lecce after an exciting come from behind run). Juve won again
in 1995 and 1997, and again, I think there should be no doubt about 
the team's merits, unless of course you have thick anti-juventino

This year...I have already said what I wanted to say. Winning like
this is not fun. Maybe Juve deserved the scudetto, and maybe Inter deserved 
it too. We will never know which team was more deserveful
because of the incompetence and fear of the italian referees.