French, German fans won't forget 1982

The collision between French player Patrick Battiston and German goalie Harald Schumacher in 1982...

The collision between French player Patrick Battiston and German goalie Harald Schumacher in 1982 is never far from the minds of France's soccer fans. (Reuters)

Morris Dalla Costa, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:21 PM ET

RIO DE JANEIRO - If soccer fans were animals they’d be elephants. They never truly forget.

It matters not whether something happened two weeks ago, two years or 20 years previous, fans will relive the moment for as long as they draw breath.

One particular incident occurred 32 years ago between Germany and France during a World Cup semifinal match in Spain.

For some fans, it’s as if it happened yesterday.

Germany and France play each other Friday in the World Cup quarterfinals in Brazil.

It will be the first time the two sides have met at the tournament since 1986 in Mexico.

The match before that, at the 1982 tournament, was played in Seville and is considered one of the best World Cup games of all time.

Not only was the game exciting, but it had historical significance as well. It was the first time a World Cup game had been decided by kicks from the penalty spot.

French football legend Michel Platini called it “his most beautiful game.”

More French call it the game of “infamie.”

France and Germany were tied 1-1 going into extra time. The French built a 3-1 lead and looked headed to the final.

But Germany came back to tie the game, eventually winning on penalty kicks.

The game was also known for an astounding incident that almost claimed the life of France’s Patrick Battiston and French fans have never really forgiven the Germans or goalkeeper Harald Schumacher for it.

The two teams are not big fans of one another at the best of times. Social media is already rife with ridiculous and stupid comparisons between the upcoming match and how the two nations battled in two World Wars.

There’s little one can do to combat that kind of stupidity on social media. But the disgust over the Battiston incident is real and goes very deep.

With the teams battling for a spot in the ’82 final, Platini sent a looping pass over midfield where Battiston broke for the ball from his defensive position. He got to it moments before Schumacher, who had come sprinting out of his goal to meet Battiston at the edge of the penalty area.

Battiston's flick just missed the net but Schumacher ended his run by leaping and turning his body into Battiston, catching him with his leg, shoulder and elbow.

Battiston had to be removed from the pitch on a stretcher. He was unconscious for a half hour and had broken ribs, damaged vertebrae and eventually went into a coma.

Platini escorted an unconscious Battiston off the field, holding his flopping hand and kissing it once. Platini said he thought Battiston was dead.

Just as big a shock was that Schumacher escaped any kind of punishment from Dutch referee Charles Corver.

It was a disgusting attack on a defenceless player.

Schumacher didn’t show remorse until years later.

Battiston said he forgave the German goalie but had no desire to meet with him.

After the game, German press talked about the win. French press talked about the assault.

West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President François Mitterrand released a joint statement to ease tensions.

The tensions may be eased but the incident has never been forgotten.


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