One team in Tallinn

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One team in Tallinn
Event 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
Abandoned after three seconds, due to Estonian team boycott.
Match rearranged.
Date 9 October 1996
Venue Kadrioru Stadium, Tallinn
Referee Miroslav Radoman (FR Yugoslavia)
Attendance 1,000

One team in Tallinn refers to a football match scheduled for 9 October 1996 in World Cup qualifying European Group 4 between the national teams of Estonia and Scotland. The match was abandoned after three seconds because the Estonian team were absent from the Kadrioru Stadium due to a dispute over its floodlights. Scotland expected to be awarded a walkover victory, but FIFA ordered that the match be replayed on neutral territory. The replayed match, staged at the Stade Louis II in Monaco, ended in a goalless draw.

The game and the antics of the Tartan Army are infamously retold in Kevin Donnelly's book "Chances, Dancers and Romancers".


Estonia and Scotland were drawn in Group 4 along with Austria, Belarus, Latvia and Sweden. Both nations failed to get their campaign off to a winning start in August, Estonia losing 1–0 away to Belarus and Scotland drawing 0–0 away to Austria. On 5 October however, both won their games to leave just one point between the teams heading into the Tallinn meeting.

Pre-match controversy[edit]

Scotland trained at the Kadrioru Stadium the night before the game, where they found the temporary floodlighting the game was to be played under inadequate and protested to FIFA.[1] After a meeting of the FIFA executive committee the following morning, the scheduled 18:45 EEST kickoff time was brought forward to 15:00 EEST. The Estonian Football Association were unhappy with the logistical consequences of the switch, such as the potential loss of television revenue: BBC Sports had acquired the rights to show the game in Scotland, but the earlier kickoff conflicted with the BBC's live broadcast of the memorial service for the Dunblane massacre that afternoon.[1] The Estonian team refused to change their plans while Scotland prepared for the revised time.[1] Team manager Craig Brown later said he had it in mind that the likeliest occurrence was for the Estonian team to show up late, to protest the decision, but for the game to go ahead anyway.[1]

Kick-off and abandonment[edit]

Referee Miroslav Radoman led the Scots out onto the pitch, with Scotland's Tartan Army supporters taking the unusual situation in good humour with the chant "One team in Tallinn, There's only one team in Tallinn", to the tune of "Guantanamera". Billy Dodds kicked the game off and captain John Collins took one touch of the ball before Radoman blew the whistle and abandoned the game.[1] After the abandonment, some Scottish supporters played their own game on the Kadrioru Stadium pitch.[2]

The Estonian team arrived at the stadium later in the afternoon, preparing for the original kick-off time.[1] The Scotland team had already left the stadium to begin their journey home.[3]

Estonia  v  Scotland
Attendance: 1,000
Referee: Miroslav Radoman (FR Yugoslavia)
GK Andy Goram (Rangers)
DF Jackie McNamara (Celtic)
DF Tom Boyd (Celtic)
DF Colin Calderwood (Tottenham Hotspur)
DF Tosh McKinlay (Celtic)
MF Craig Burley (Chelsea)
MF Paul Lambert (Borussia Dortmund)
MF John Collins (AS Monaco) (c)
CF John McGinlay (Bolton Wanderers)
CF Billy Dodds (Aberdeen)
CF Darren Jackson (Hibernian)
Craig Brown


Scotland initially believed that they would be awarded the match by a default score of 3–0, which appeared to be confirmed by the FIFA match delegate.[1] FIFA regulations stated this should be the case "except in cases of force majeure recognised by the organising committee".[1] A similar situation had occurred in the Soviet Union vs Chile 1974 FIFA World Cup play-off, where the Soviets refused to play in the venue chosen by the Chileans for the match to be played in Chile.[4] In that case Chile were awarded the tie by default and qualified for the 1974 FIFA World Cup.[4] This view was contradicted by Lennart Johansson, who was president of UEFA and a vice-president of FIFA.[1]

The FIFA executive committee, chaired by Johansson, met in November.[5] Instead of awarding the match to Scotland, FIFA ordered that the match should be replayed on a neutral ground.[5] This decision was criticised by Scottish observers who believed that Johansson wanted to give Sweden, his native country, the best possible chance of qualification.[5] It also meant that Scotland captain Gary McAllister, who had been suspended for the original fixture against Estonia, was instead suspended for a match against Sweden.[1]

The match was replayed on 11 February 1997 at the Stade Louis II in Monaco and ended in a 0–0 draw.[5] Despite this setback, Scotland finished second in Group 4, two points ahead of Sweden and two points behind group winners Austria, who also had a superior goal difference to Scotland by 1 goal.[5][6] Their total of 23 points meant that Scotland were the highest-placed runner-up in the European qualifying groups and therefore qualified directly for the World Cup finals.[5] Estonia finished fifth in Group 4 and did not qualify.

Estonia  0–0  Scotland
Attendance: 3,766
Referee: Miroslav Radoman (FR Yugoslavia)
GK 1 Mart Poom (Flora Tallinn) (c)
DF 2 Marek Lemsalu (Flora Tallinn)
DF 7 Meelis Rooba (Flora Tallinn) Substituted off 67'
DF 14 Urmas Kirs (Flora Tallinn)
MF 8 Liivo Leetma (Flora Tallinn) Substituted off 75'
DF 4 Sergei Hohlov-Simson (Lelle SK)
DF 3 Urmas Rooba (Flora Tallinn)
MF 10 Martin Reim (Flora Tallinn)
MF 9 Marko Kristal (Flora Tallinn)
CF 5 Indrek Zelinski (Flora Tallinn) YC 55'
MF 6 Viktor Alonen (Flora Tallinn) YC 31'
GK Martin Kaalma (Lelle SK)
DF Janek Meet (Flora Tallinn)
DF Raivo Nõmmik (Flora Tallinn)
DF Gert Olesk (Lelle SK) Substituted in 75'
MF 17 Mati Pari (Lelle SK) Substituted in 67'
FW Argo Arbeiter (Lelle SK)
FW 11 Andres Oper (Flora Tallinn) Substituted in 75'
Iceland Teitur Thordarson
GK 1 Andy Goram (Rangers)
DF 2 Jackie McNamara (Celtic) YC 72'  Substituted off 75'
DF 3 Tom Boyd (Celtic)
DF 4 Colin Calderwood (Tottenham Hotspur)
DF 5 Colin Hendry (Blackburn Rovers)
MF 8 Paul McStay (Celtic) Substituted off 63'
MF 10 Gary McAllister (Coventry City) (c) YC 88'
MF 7 John Collins (AS Monaco) YC 40'
CF 11 John McGinlay (Bolton Wanderers) Substituted off 72'
CF 9 Duncan Ferguson (Everton)
CF 6 Kevin Gallacher (Blackburn Rovers)
GK Jim Leighton (Hibernian)
DF 13 Tosh McKinlay (Celtic) Substituted in 75'
MF Eoin Jess (Coventry City)
MF Paul Lambert (Borussia Dortmund)
MF Billy McKinlay (Blackburn Rovers)
MF 18 Ian Ferguson (Rangers) Substituted in 63'
FW 16 Ally McCoist (Rangers) Substituted in 72'
Craig Brown

Assistant referees:
Serbia and Montenegro Dusan Djukelić (FR Yugoslavia)
Serbia and Montenegro Stanko Matić (FR Yugoslavia)
Fourth official:
Serbia and Montenegro Zoran Arsić (FR Yugoslavia)

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • Seven named substitutes.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shaw, Phil (10 October 1996). "Scotland await verdict after Estonian farce". The Independent. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Collett, Mike (3 January 1997). "Deutschland Uber Alles at Wembley". The Nation. Bangkok: Nation Multimedia Group. Reuters. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Brewin, John (10 October 2014). "One team in Tallinn: when Scotland kicked off against nobody – and still didn't win". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "From the Vault: One team in Tallinn". The Guardian. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Carter, Jon (6 October 2011). "There's only one team in Tallinn". Soccernet. ESPN. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "1998 FIFA World Cup France ™". FIFA. Retrieved 23 December 2016.