Writers can harvest numerous story and article prompts from the history of the World Cup. (Which needs no further introduction in June 2018!) It’s 88-year history is peppered with tales of; theft, money laundering, bribery and even some events on the pitch.
The much-travelled Jules Rimet Trophy was held by Italy during WW2. Afraid that the Nazis would steal it, the Vice President of FIFA secretly removed it from a bank vault and hid it safely in a shoe box under his bed. There’s no record of where he kept his shoes for the next 5 years.
Eventually thieves did get their hands on it just before England’s win in 1966, when it was stolen from a London exhibition. The FA Chairman received a ransom demand for £15,000, (when the pound in your pocket …) during the handover the thief was spooked, and the cup was not recovered but an arrest was made. Mysteriously a few days later, the cup was found by a curious dog named Pickles, in an Upper Norwood street, South London.
The trophy was stolen again during another exhibition, this time in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil had won the contest for the third time in 1970, and under the rules at that time, qualified to keep it. The cup has never been recovered.
Even on the pitch there was skulduggery, in 1986, England were knocked out by Argentina, when Maradona punched the ball into the net to score the winning goal. The linesman didn’t flag the foul and regretted it for the rest of his life.
The most extraordinary score was when Australia beat American Samoa, 31 – 0, in 2002.
There is no truth in the story that Australia’s extremely high score was due to Samoa’s goal keeper leaving the field to start his shift in the tuna cannery.
Already in 2018, we have reports from Moscow of BBC camera crews being under surveillance by the Russian authorities. A spy story with a World Cup setting would be good. Must be more to come.