Argentina–England football rivalry
The Argentina–England football rivalry is a highly competitive sports rivalry that exists between the national football teams of the two countries, as well as their respective sets of fans. Games between the two teams, even those that are only friendly matches, are often marked by notable and sometimes controversial incidents.
The rivalry is unusual in that it is an intercontinental one; typically such footballing rivalries exist between countries that are close to one another, for example France–Italy or Argentina–Brazil. Argentina is regarded in England as one of the major rivals of the English football team, matched only by Germany and Scotland. The rivalry is also keenly felt in Argentina, locally described as a Clásico, where only matches against Brazil or Uruguay carry a greater significance in popular perception.
The rivalry emerged across several games during the latter half of the 20th century, even though as of 2008 the teams have played each other on only 14 occasions in full internationals. It was driven by various controversial incidents, particularly those in the games played between the teams at the 1966 and 1986 FIFA World Cups. The rivalry was also intensified, particularly in Argentina, by a non-footballing event, the 1982 Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom. However despite the intense rivalry between the national sides and its high media and public profile, numerous Argentine players have played for English club sides with few problems, with many such as Osvaldo Ardiles or Ricardo Villa and current National Team members Sergio Agüero and Pablo Zabaleta becoming extremely popular with fans in England.
Overall, England hold the edge in the rivalry, with six victories to three by Argentina (including one by penalty shoot-out), and five draws. In the FIFA World Cup England again have the better head-to-head record, with three victories (in 1962, 1966 and 2002) to Argentina's two (in 1986 and 1998).
- 1 Early history
- 2 Crucial moments
- 3 Argentina v England matches
- 4 Club level
- 5 Argentine players at English clubs
- 6 Fans' behaviour
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In the latter half of the 19th century, the Argentine capital Buenos Aires had a large expatriate British community of some 10,000 people. As in many other parts of the world, football was introduced to Argentina by the British. The first recorded football match played in Argentina was organized by the Buenos Aires Cricket Club in Palermo, Buenos Aires on 20 June 1867, and played between two teams of British railway workers, the White Caps and the Red Caps (it was common in the early days of football for teams to be distinguished by caps rather than jerseys).
The so-called "father of Argentine football" was a Glaswegian schoolteacher, Alexander Watson Hutton, who first taught football at the St Andrew's School in Buenos Aires in the early 1880s. On 4 February 1884 he founded the Buenos Aires English High School where he continued to instruct the pupils in the game. In 1891 Hutton established the Association Argentine Football League. Five clubs competed but only one season of games was played. A new league, The Argentine Association Football League was formed 21 February 1893 and this eventually became the Argentine Football Association. In these early days of football in Argentina nearly all of the players and officials were expatriate Britons or of British extraction and the oldest football clubs in Argentina like Rosario Central, Newell's Old Boys and Quilmes Athletic Club were all founded by British expatriates. As the popularity of the game increased the British influence on the game waned, and by 1912 the Association was renamed Asociación Argentina de Fútbol.
However the British influence on the game in Argentina shows in the continued use of terms such as "corner" and "wing" rather than Spanish translations. The names of several famous teams in Argentina are also English in origin such as River Plate or influenced by the language such as Boca Juniors.
The national teams had met before their 1966 clash — Argentina were the first team other than Scotland to play England at Wembley Stadium in 1951 when the inaugural full international match between the sides ended with a 2–1 victory for England. They also played two matches in 1953 in Buenos Aires. The first, a 3–1 victory for Argentina, was considered an unofficial international by England, who fielded a second-string team dubbed an FA XI. However, this match appears in Argentina's list of official internationals, and is listed as a full international by FIFA, and so Argentines consider it to be their first ever victory over England. Afterwards, one Argentine politician stated that "we nationalised the railways, and now we have nationalised football!".
The second 1953 international was an official match for both teams: England playing with a stronger line-up involving Alf Ramsey, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney; Argentina sticking with the same line-up used in the first match. The game was abandoned after 36 minutes due to torrential rain, with a 0–0 scoreline. The teams next met in the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile, where England's 3–1 victory at the Group Stage led to Argentina's exit from the tournament. Argentina's first victory over England in a full international occurred in a 1–0 win in Brazil in June 1964, during the Taça de Nações friendly tournament in Brazil.
1966 World Cup
In spite of all of this history, it was not until the 1966 FIFA World Cup, held in and eventually won by England, that the rivalry picked up the sometimes bitter and fierce edge that it retains. The two teams met in the quarter-finals of the tournament, a game referred to in Argentina as el robo del siglo (the theft of the century) that England won 1–0 thanks to a goal from striker Geoff Hurst, disputed by the Argentines due to a claimed offside. However, the game was particularly noted for the sending off of Argentina captain Antonio Rattín, which Argentines considered to be unfair, including Rattín himself, who had to be escorted from the pitch by police before he would leave.
It was reported in Argentina that the German referee, Rudolf Kreitlein, said that he had sent off Rattín because he didn't like how he had looked at him, while British newspapers cited the official as having given the reason as 'violence of the tongue', even though the referee spoke no Spanish  Rattín's intention appeared to have been to speak with the German referee, as according to the Argentines he was ruling in favour of the English team. Rattín made a visible signal showing his captain's armband and intention to call a translator.
Ken Aston, the English supervisor of referees, entered the field to try to persuade Rattín to leave, but he only exacerbated the situation since the Latin American teams had already suspected that the English and Germans were collaborating to eliminate them from the competition. After his dismissal, Rattín finally sat down on Queen Elizabeth II's red carpet for a moment.
After the match, England manager Alf Ramsey refused to allow his players to swap shirts with the Argentines (as is traditional after the conclusion of a football match) and later described the South Americans as "animals" in the press. The Argentine press and public were outraged, and one Argentine newspaper published a picture of the official World Cup mascot, World Cup Willie, dressed in pirate regalia to demonstrate their opinion of the England team.
1986 World Cup
After friendlies in 1974, 1977 and 1980, which showed no particular signs of rivalry, the next competitive game between the two teams occurred at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, again at the quarter-final stage. The encounter was made particularly incendiary by the Falklands War fought by the two countries had only four years previously, and many in Argentina saw the game as being an opportunity to exact revenge upon England for their loss of that conflict.
Argentina took the lead through a highly controversial goal from their star player Diego Maradona, who punched the ball into the England net with his hand. The goal was allowed to stand by the referee, who did not see the infringement, much to the fury of the English team and its fans. The goal, dubbed the "Hand of God goal" after Maradona's tongue-in-cheek description of how it was scored, has become infamous in England, particularly as England went on to lose the game and were knocked out of the tournament.
Also in this game, Maradona scored a second goal, voted in 2002 as the best goal in World Cup history, before English striker Gary Lineker pulled one back, but England could not score again and lost 2–1. Despite the skill of his second goal, Maradona wrote in his autobiography that "I sometimes think I preferred the one with my hand... It was a bit like stealing the wallet of the English." He also wrote, in reference to the Falklands conflict, that "it was as if we had beaten a country, not just a football team.... Although we had said before the game that football had nothing to do with the Malvinas war, we knew they had killed a lot of Argentine boys there, killed them like little birds. And this was revenge." The importance of both goals for the English people can be seen as the fact they were chosen 6th in the list of 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002 by Channel 4.
The game added hugely to the rivalry between the two teams in England where they felt that they had been cheated out of the competition by Maradona's handball. Meanwhile in Argentina, the game was seen as revenge for the Falklands War and for what they still see as the unfair game in the 1966 World Cup.
Almost inevitably that whenever the two teams play, this game (and particularly the Hand of God goal in England) will be referred to by the sports media in the build up to the game.
On 25 May 1991, a friendly match between the two teams was played at Wembley. Argentina, now under the management of Alfio Basile, were preparing for the forthcoming Copa América 1991, which they went on to win. The South Americans had a new generation of players mainly playing locally, replacing the very successful group of the previous two World Cup tournaments. The game was mostly under the control of England, but near the end, Argentina came back from two goals down to draw 2–2. Darío Franco and Claudio García scored with headers.
In spite of not being a victory, the result was celebrated in Argentina, especially as both Argentine goals came from corner kicks, which in Argentina were seen as being a part of the game at which the English usually excelled.
1998 World Cup
The next meeting between the two countries came in the round of 16 of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France. The game had many noteworthy aspects including a goal that is considered one of the greatest of all time in England, scored by young striker Michael Owen.
The match is also remembered for David Beckham receiving a red card. Beckham had been fouled by Diego Simeone and as Simeone stood up, he pushed on Beckham's back; Beckham felt provoked and swung his leg out at Simeone's leg and the referee sent Beckham off. Playing with ten men, England held out against the Argentine attacks and, in the dying moments of the game, during a scramble in the Argentine penalty area, Sol Campbell headed the ball into the goal.
As the England players began to celebrate a winning goal the referee blew for a foul that Alan Shearer had committed on the Argentine goalkeeper prior to the goal and disallowed it. The consequent free kick was taken very quickly, while the England players were still celebrating, and they had to rush back to successfully prevent the Argentines from scoring. The scores stayed level at 2–2 until the end of extra time. In the ensuing penalty shoot-out that decided the game, Argentina won 4–3 after two English kicks were saved by their goalkeeper Carlos Roa.
There was heavy criticism in England about Argentina's "theatrics" that many fans held responsible for stealing the win. Immediately following the game, Beckham was vilified by the English press for his perceived petulance and naivety on the international stage despite Simeone's subsequent "confession" of the actual events. The headline in The Daily Mirror the following day described the England team as: "10 Heroic Lions, One Stupid Boy".
2002 World Cup
Another friendly was played in 2000, again at Wembley, but ended 0–0. Then, the teams were drawn to meet once more in the group stages of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Having been knocked out by Argentina in two of the previous three World Cups in which they had competed, tension in England was high. This tension was raised by the England team, gaining only a draw in their opening match against Sweden, meaning that they needed a good result against Argentina to avoid being eliminated from the competition.
David Beckham, who was then the England captain, scored the only goal of the match, a penalty kick following a foul on Michael Owen, which many felt redeemed Beckham in the eyes of the English sporting public for his dismissal four years earlier. As The Times newspaper described it in their match report, "vilified for the red card that helped to usher England out of the 1998 World Cup at the hands of Argentina, he wakes this morning with his halo brighter than ever." Despite a late onslaught from the Argentine players at the end of the second half of the game, England maintained the scoreline and won 1–0, and partly as a result of this Argentina (one of the pre-tournament favourites to win) were knocked out in the first round.
Although the Argentine players and public (and many neutral pundits) criticised the awarding of the penalty kick, the game was generally played in a good, if highly competitive, spirit, and there was none of the bitterness that had affected the 1966, 1986 and 1998 meetings.
The most recent game between the two nations occurred on neutral ground in Geneva, Switzerland on 12 November 2005 when the two teams, having both already qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, met in a friendly. Both teams selected strong sides. England twice came from behind to beat Argentina 3–2 with goals from Michael Owen from crosses by Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole in the dying moments. The result and performance were welcomed enthusiastically by the English press and public. The general nature of the match was also less intensely vitriolic than on previous occasions, with The Times reporting: "by the unpleasant standards of previous confrontations, the skirmish between England and Argentina edged towards the saccharine, although the concept is deeply relative. The latest encounter featured punches on the terraces, songs about the Falkland Islands, jibes regarding players' sexuality and general churlishness that, believe it or not, represents a significant thaw in diplomatic relations." England's victory was the first time either side had won consecutive matches against the other.
Argentina v England matches
|Friendly Match 9 May 1951||England||2–1||Argentina||London|
|(Report)||18' Boyé||Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Sandy Griffiths
|Friendly Match 14 May 1953||Argentina||3–1||England||Buenos Aires|
|Grillo 42', 78'
|||41' Taylor||Stadium: Estadio Monumental
Referee: Arthur Ellis
|Friendly Match 17 May 1953||Argentina||Match abandoned||England||Buenos Aires|
|Stadium: Estadio Monumental
Referee: Arthur Ellis
|1962 FIFA World Cup 2 June 1962||England||3–1||Argentina||Rancagua|
|Flowers 18' (pen.)
|(Report)||81' Sanfilippo||Stadium: Estadio El Teniente
Referee: Nikolay Latyshev
|Taça das Nações 6 June 1964||Argentina||1–0||England||Rio de Janeiro|
|Rojas 66'||(Report)||Stadium: Estádio do Maracanã
Referee: Leo Horn
|1966 FIFA World Cup 23 July 1966||England||1–0||Argentina||London|
|Hurst 77'||(Report)||Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Rudolf Kreitlein
|Friendly Match 22 May 1974||England||2–2||Argentina||London|
|(Report)||59', 89' (pen.) Kempes||Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Arturo Ithurralde
|Friendly Match 12 June 1977||Argentina||1–1||England||Buenos Aires|
|Bertoni 15'||(Report)||3' Pearson||Stadium: La Bombonera
Referee: Ramón Barreto
|Friendly Match 13 May 1980||England||3–1||Argentina||London|
|Johnson 41', 50'
|(Report)||53' (pen.) Passarella||Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Brian McGinlay
|1986 FIFA World Cup 22 June 1986||Argentina||2–1||England||Mexico City|
|Maradona 50', 54'||(Report)||80' Lineker||Stadium: Estadio Azteca
Referee: Ali Bin Nasser
|1991 Challenge Cup 25 May 1991||England||2–2||Argentina||London|
|(Report)|| 65' García
|Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Zoran Petrović
|1998 FIFA World Cup 30 June 1998||Argentina||2–2 (aet)
|Batistuta 6' (pen.)
|(Report)|| 10' (pen.) Shearer
|Stadium: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard
Referee: Kim Milton Nielsen
|Friendly Match 23 February 2000||England||0–0||Argentina||London|
|(Report)||Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Markus Merk
|2002 FIFA World Cup 7 June 2002||Argentina||0–1||England||Sapporo|
|(Report)||44' (pen.) Beckham||Stadium: Sapporo Dome
Referee: Pierluigi Collina
|Friendly Match 12 November 2005||Argentina||2–3||England||Geneva|
|(Report)|| 39' Rooney
87', 90+2' Owen
|Stadium: Stade de Genève
Referee: Philippe Leuba
Facts and figures
- Overall record (15 matches): England – 6 wins; Argentina – 3 wins, 5 draws (including one won by Argentina by penalty shoot-out), no result once
- Competitive matches (5 matches, all at World Cups): England – 3 wins; Argentina – 1 win; 1 match drawn after which Argentina won a penalty shootout.
- In Argentina (3 matches): Argentina – o wins, one draw, one match abandoned without result
- In England (6 matches): England – 4 wins; 2 draws –
- Neutral venues (6 matches): England – 3 wins; Argentina – 2 wins; 1 match drawn after which Argentina won a penalty shootout.
- Both teams have knocked each other out on the way to winning World Cups – England in 1966 and Argentina in 1986
- England also defeated Argentina at the 1966 and 2002 tournaments, contributing to Argentina being knocked out in the Group Stages of these competitions
- Argentina defeated England 4–3 on penalties (after the match was drawn 2–2 after extra time) at the 1998 tournament, the only time they have faced each other in a penalty shoot-out
At the club level, matches have also been heated. Argentine and English clubs have not had many chances to play against each other, but when they have done so there have been notable incidents. The most memorable matches happened in the now defunct European/South American Cup. In 1968 Estudiantes de La Plata played against Manchester United for the cup, then known as the "Intercontinental Cup". The first leg was in Buenos Aires where Estudiantes' supporters were highly vocal and the game was played in a very physical manner with a disputed red card and physical injury. Manchester United could not recover the 1–0 deficit in the second leg and Estudiantes won the title.
Nine years later, in 1977, Liverpool FC refused to play against Boca Juniors, so Boca played against European runner-up Borussia Mönchengladbach and obtained their first cup. In 1978, Liverpool alleged "scheduling conflicts"; the cup was not played.
In 1984 Independiente played Liverpool for the trophy that, by this point, had been renamed the "Toyota Cup". The format had also changed, to a single game played in Japan, making it easier for teams to attend. Independiente won 1–0 with a goal by José Percudani.
Argentine players at English clubs
A number of Argentine footballers, some of them high-profile stars, have played and still play for English clubs, among them Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, who joined Tottenham Hotspur and Alberto Tarantini who joined Birmingham City when players from outside the British Isles were rare in English football, and many others since the advent of the Premier League and the increase in the number of foreign players. Recently, Argentine striker Sergio Aguero gained notorious popularity for scoring the final goal of the 2011–2012 Premier League season against QPR that gave his team Manchester City their first league championship in 45 years.
Much of the colour and intensity in this rivalry is added by the fans themselves. While matches prior to the 1982 Falklands War generated interest and emotion, it was the war itself that fuelled passions and elevated this rivalry. Before the 1986 game fans from both countries had a fight in a Mexico City street. During games, however, behaviour so far has been generally peaceful on both sides; probably because of the heightened security in the stadia.
- Argentina v England (1986 FIFA World Cup)
- England–Germany football rivalry
- England–Scotland football rivalry
- "Early History of Football in Argentina'" – RSSSF
- "Alumni Athletic Club" – RSSSF
- "Buenos Aires English High School"
- "Argentina 1891" – RSSSF
- Kuper, Simon (2002-02-25ch). "The conflict lives on". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-05-06.
- Mundial de Inglaterra 1966 – EL ROBO DEL SIGLO
- Mundial de Inglaterra 1966 – INGLATERRA A LA SEMIFINAL, ¿ALGUIEN LO PODÍA PREVENIR?
- Mundial de Inglaterra 1966 – EL RATA CONTRA EL MUNDO
- McLynn, Frank (2005-10-02). "Heroes and villains: Sir Alf Ramsey". The Observer. Retrieved 2006-05-06.
- Rattín live interview on the Fox Sport Latin America channel on 30-3-2007
- Maradona, D. Maradona: The Autobiography of Soccer's Greatest and Most Controversial Star, p.127. Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-60239-027-4.
- Maradona, D. Maradona: The Autobiography of Soccer's Greatest and Most Controversial Star, p.128. Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-60239-027-4.
- Pagina 12 newspaper Alfio Basile: La última vez que estuve en Inglaterra (en Wembley, en 1991, contra la selección local) fue hermoso. Esa vez los teníamos a todos en contra.
- Dickinson, Matt (2002-06-08). "Beckham gives England lift-off". London: The Times. Retrieved 2006-05-06.
- Caulkin, George (2005-11-14). "The price of peace". London: The Times. Retrieved 2006-06-06.
- England sent an "FA XI" (not the first team). This game is NOT considered a full international by FIFA, as shown by their official head-to-head records on the FIFA website.
- "Bitter rivals end up friends". Manchester Evening News. 2004-08-07. Retrieved 2006-03-10.[dead link]
- "No podemos impedir que viajen". Clarin. 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2006-06-06.
- The match was suspended after 23 minutes because of a water logged pitch. It was abandoned after 36 minutes, with the score at 0–0.
- England v Argentina: A history 19.05.02.
- England v Argentina revisited 29.03.02
- A comprehensive list of the results of matches between Argentina and England from 1951 to 2005
- Match report — Argentina 2–2 England (Argentina win 4–3 on penalties) 30.06.98
- Match report — Argentina 0–1 England 17.06.02
- Match report — Argentina 2–3 England 12.11.05