The Comically Outrageous Dive Which Robbed Ireland Of A Place At A World Cup

The Comically Outrageous Dive Which Robbed Ireland Of A Place At A World Cup

Modern generations will never forget the 'Hand of Henry' but older guys have seen more hair-raising injustices than one could shake a walking stick at.

In the 1982 World Cup, Ireland were denied qualification thanks to outrageous refereeing decisions in Paris and Brussels.

We've written before about the 1982 World Cup qualification campaign. Ireland were landed in a group with France, Belgium, Holland and the minnows, Cyprus.

The finalists at the previous two World Cups were arguing amongst themselves and were pushed into fourth place. Ireland battled it out with France and Belgium for the top two spots.

Ireland boasted players like Frank Stapleton, David O'Leary and Liam Brady. Both Holland and France came to Dublin and lost. A draw in Brussels would have been a sensational result.

Frank Stapleton had a goal disallowed for reasons that remain mysterious. Then, in the final minutes, with the Belgians growing more desperate in pursuit of the winning goal, Eric Gerets flung himself to the ground in one of the most incompetent acting displays ever witnessed on a football pitch.

The ref gave the free and after Seamus McDonagh punched the ball skywards, Jan Ceulemans nodded the ball into the net. After the game, Eoin Hand ran onto the pitch and accused the referee of corruption.


To me, it was blatant and I accused him of it after the game. 'You have taken money, it's a disgrace...' and really I should have been reported for that... but nothing happened.

The referee was a man named Raul Nazare. Twenty years later, in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup, Paul Howard travelled to Portugal to interview Nazare about the game. He brought with him a tape of the match. They zoned in on the two pivotal moments in the game - the disallowed Stapleton goal and the free kick that led to the Belgium goal.

Raul asks to see it again before he explains himself. 'Yes, he is clowning, there is no doubt, but there is some physical contact with this player, Steve Heighway.' The camera picks up no such contact. 'You can't see it on the tape, but I could see it where I was, from the ground. Gerets makes a spectacle of himself, but he is touched. I admit it's a light touch, but this contact is there, I promise you'

The video of the last few minutes has been uploaded to youtube thanks to killianm2.

Read more: How The Greatest Irish Team Never To Qualify Were Robbed

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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