World Cup Countdown- Rijkaard spits at Voller

33 Days to Go

We carry on this run of looking at the ugly side of the World Cup. I don’t think we’ve looked at anything positive in the last week, and it doesn’t really get much better today. I will get to some of the great World Cup moments, but let’s be honest, we remember the shocking moments more.

But of everything we’ve seen, from Luis Suarez to Ant & Dec, this is the worst of the lot. No doubt about it. The game between West Germany and the Netherlands in the round of 16 at the 1990 World Cup in Italy was a bad tempered affair, and most of that revolved around a few minutes of madness midway through the first half.

It all started with a late challenge by Frank Rijkaard on Rudi Voller, which rightly earned him a yellow card. It was his second booking of the tournament, which meant he would miss the quarter-final, if the Dutch made it. Clearly aggrieved at his entirely justified yellow card, Rijkaard turned and spat in the direction of Voller. The pair had words, then, despite Voller showing the referee the spot on his mullet where he had been spat on, he joined Rijkaard in the book.

From the resulting free-kick, Netherlands ‘keeper Hans van Breuckelen came to collect the ball, and then hung a leg out to try and receive contact from Voller. The German striker looked to do all he could to avoid the contact, and looked like he managed to. Rijkaard saw it differently though, and there was some pushing and shoving as he confronted Voller. Argentinian referee Juan Carlos Lustau had seen enough though, and showed both of them a red card.

It was clear why Rijkaard was dismissed, but not so obvious as to why Voller had been given his marching orders. Years later in an interview, he said: “Of course it wasn’t nice what Frank Rijkaard did but the match should have continued for me. I still can’t understand why the ref sent me off and I guess he will take it to his grave. He wanted to make an example of both of us so that the situation would calm down- which did work.”

The talking point was still Rijkaard though. As he jogged off the field he once again spat at Voller, this time clear enough for everyone to see. West Germany would go on to win the game 2-1, and then beat Argentina 1-0 in the final.

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