The Tragedy of Seville: Schumacher’s Charge Crushes France’s Dream


At World Cup 1982 Les blues met Die Mannschaft in a game that will not be remembered for it’s extra-time comeback, tense penalty shootout or array of magnificent players on show, it will be remembered for one ‘tackle,’ if you can call it that, by the German goalkeeper on Patrick Battiston.

In the build up to the second Euro 2016 semi-final, The Panenka looks back at that famous incident in Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizuan, now known as ‘The Tragedy of Seville.’

Germany will take on France in the semi-final of Euro 2016 to decide who will take on Portugal in the competitions final. The meeting will not be the first time the sides have met in the latter stages of a major international tournament.

The two teams met in an infamous semi-final during the 1982 World Cup held in Spain. This match, like a number of other matches in this tournament, was played at nine o’clock in the evening, because July daily high temperatures in the southwestern Spanish city of Seville averaged 98 °F.

The hot weather though could not be to blame for the controversy which overshadowed one of the World Cup’s greatest ever comebacks. While everybody should have been talking about Klaus Fischer’s stunning overhead kick to bring the scores level at 3-3 and the nail-biting drama of the first-ever World Cup penalty shootout, TV replays were showing Harald Schumacher’s highly illegal shoulder charge on Patrick Battiston again and again and again.

With West Germany’s captain and European Footballer of the Year Karl-Heinz Rummenigge benched from the start due to a hamstring injury, West Germany broke the deadlock in the 17th minute.

Klaus Fischer set the tone of the game when charged in to challenge of France goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori and the ball rebounded to Pierre Littbarski who shot into an empty net from 18-yards out.

At 27 minutes, Bernd Förster was penalised for holding Dominique Rocheteau inside the area and France were awarded a penalty. Michel Platini made little fuss about dispatching the resulting spot kick to level the scores at 1-1.

Early in the second-half the shocking scenes which granted the game it’s tragic nickname took place. Tim Pearl of The Guardian recalls the night where German villainy ruled over French finesse.

“Bossis won the ball with a superb tackle on Dremmler, and passed to Tigana, who laid it inside to Platini. With a momentary glance Platini appraised the scene before him, saw Battiston charging forward and floated the ball into the air.

“The pass had just the height, pace and backspin to take it beyond Karl-Heinz Förster, to a spot where Battiston would reach it before the sweeper Uli Stielike, coming from the left, or Harald Schumacher charging out.

“Battiston got to the ball first and kicked it over the oncoming keeper’s head. Everyone’s gaze followed the ball, which bounced narrowly wide of goal, so people only glimpsed that Schumacher had made contact with Battiston. Watching replays, it was clear what had happened.”

As the German journalist Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger puts it: “Just prior to crashing into Battiston he [Schumacher] did a little jump and turned his upper body in order to ease the impact. Ease it for himself, that is, as the helpless Battiston was hit in the face by Schumacher’s hipbone with full force, immediately going down unconscious.”

“France players – and the West Germany captain, Kaltz – surrounded the stricken man and began waving for help,” Pearl continues.

“The French physio and doctor ran on, and immediately called for a stretcher. By grim chance the Seville police had, for some unknown reason, barred Red Cross officials from the sidelines. It took three minutes for a stretcher to appear, lifted up from some basement store beneath the stands. Eventually uniformed men with Red Cross armbands trotted on.”

Battiston was brutally knocked unconscious for a reported 30 minutes in an incident that led him to lose two teeth and suffer a damaged vertebrate and three broken ribs. Off the field it would have been a criminal assault but the ball trickled wide of the goal and the referee amazingly ignored the foul and gave the Germans a goal kick.

Henry Winter, then of The Daily Telegraph noted that “Schumacher’s initial reaction was almost as outrageous as the foul.”

Adding: “While Battiston’s France team-mates gathered around and called for a stretcher, Schumacher simply stood waiting to take a goal-kick with a rather bored-looking expression.”

Platini later said that he thought his team mate was dead. “He had no pulse. He looked so pale,” the three-time Balon d’Or winner admitted.

The Frenchman’s arm flopped over one side of the stretcher in an unbelievable and almost cartoon-like fashion. Platini walked alongside the injury stricken and still unconscious defender and kissed his hand.

Despite several good chances for both sides, including Manuel Amoros hitting the crossbar in stoppage time, the score remained at 1–1 at the end of 90 minutes.

In the second minute of the first period of extra-time, Marius Tresor struck home a close range volley off of a deflected free kick from just outside the box to put France ahead, 2–1.

An unfit Rummenigge then entered the game shortly afterwards in place of Hans-Peter Briegel, but it was France who struck once again at the 98 minute mark, with Alain Giresse firing a first-touch shot from 18 yards off of Schumacher’s right post and into the goal to give France a surely unassailable 3–1 advantage.

Four minutes later however, West Germany began their comeback. Firstly Rummenigge set up a tense finale by flicking home an outside-of-the-foot volley from six yards and three minutes into the second extra time period, Fischer scored a famous bicycle kick. With the scores level at 3-3 the teams entered the first ever penalty shoot out at a World Cup.

The shootout began with Giresse converting the first kick for France which was answered by West Germany’s Manfred Kaltz. Amoros then scored for France and saw his effort matched by Paul Breitner for West Germany.

In the third round things really began to hot up on what was now a cool evening. Uli Stielike’s shot was blocked by French keepr Ettori and following Rocheteau’s successful strike France led the shootout 3–2.

The drama continues as France failed to capitalize when the antagonist of the tale Schumacher was able to block Didier Six’s shot and Littbarski scored for West Germany in reply. Platini and Rummenigge then both scored in the fifth round to tie the shootout at 4–4.

With the shootout into sudden-death Maxime Bossis’s shot was saved and Horst Hrubesch converted to give West Germany the win.

Germany play France in the semi-final of Euro 2016 in Marseille on July 7 at 3:00PM ET.


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