Kuwait's tryst with the FIFA World Cup was brief. It was short enough to be lost in the history books, but a moment during their short stint keeps their footballing exploits at the highest level in memory. A debut World Cup appearance is often a feat to be cherished for ages to come, but in Kuwait's case, who made the headlines for all the wrong reasons at Spain 1982, it was anything but.
It was 21 June 1982. The moment of truth for Kuwaiti football — in form of a game against heavyweights France — was staring at them. After a creditable 1-1 draw against Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) in their opening game, the Kuwaitis had shown the appetite for a greater scalp. Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the prince of Kuwait and also the President of the nation's football association was in the audience in anticipation of history. Unfortunately, that was not what was in store for him.
After showing good resistance for the opening half hour, France found a way to the Kuwaiti net through Bernard Genghini. The goal gave France the impetus to create further inroads in the Kuwaiti rearguard, and Michel Platini doubled Le Blues's advantage in the 43rd minute to leave the Asians deflated at the break. After the restart, matters only took a turn for the worse. France took off from where they had left off in the first half and made it 3-0 in the 48th minute.
Kuwait's dream of claiming a famous upset was in doldrums until Abdullah Al-Buloushi pulled a goal back in the 75th minute to restore some hope. However, few minutes later, the renewed hopes appeared to have gone up in smoke when French midfielder Alain Giresse knocked in the fourth goal for his side. The goal was met with protests from the Kuwait players who had frozen in the build-up to the goal in reaction to a whistle from the crowd, which they suspected came from Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar.
Disgruntled by the perceived injustice against his team, Prince Fahad rushed onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee. After stopping play and threatening a pull-out, Stupar shockingly succumbed to Fahad's agitation and countermanded his initial decision. He disallowed the goal to the fury of the French and the match resumed.
For all the Kuwaiti protests, the superior French side needed just few more minutes to add the fourth goal as Maxime Bossis netted in the 89th minute. There was no room for any disagreement then as Kuwait players had to leave the field red-faced. The Asian side bowed out of the competition after a 1-0 loss to England in their final game to never return to the World Cup finals again.
Referee Stupar was banned from officiating thereafter, while Kuwait are still haunted by the ghost of their disgraceful act that till date cast a dark shadow over their footballing achievements.
To read about other FIFA World Cup moments, click here.
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Updated Date: May 21, 2018 20:45:08 IST