Soviet Union v Chile (1974 FIFA World Cup qualification play-off)

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The 1973 play-off for a place in the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany, between the national football teams of the Soviet Union and Chile, is notable for the political circumstances that marked the second leg of the play-off on 21 November 1973. It was scheduled to take place in the Estadio Nacional de Chile in Santiago, the Chilean capital. There had been a coup d'état in Chile two months before, immediately after which people deemed undesirable to the new regime of Augusto Pinochet had been held captive and executed in the stadium. The Soviet Union asked FIFA to find a different venue in Chile; when agreement could not be reached, the Soviet team did not take the field and was disqualified from the tournament, giving the Chilean team a victory by walk-over and a place in the 1974 World Cup, where they were eliminated in the first round.

Political circumstances[edit]

Soldiers at the Estadio Nacional de Chile in September 1973 during its use as a concentration camp

Salvador Allende had been elected to power in Chile in 1970, but was overthrown by Augusto Pinochet in a coup d'état in September 1973, during which thousands of people deemed undesirable by the new regime were taken to the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, tortured and killed; this continued until 7 November. The football match between the Soviet Union and Chile in the same stadium was scheduled for 21 November.

Prior qualification[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

The Soviet's qualification started on 13 October 1972 with a 1-0 loss to France, away in Paris. Five days later they faced the Republic of Ireland in Dublin and won 2-1. Their home matches were played in May 1973. On 13 May they won against the Irish by 1-0, and thirteen days later beat the French 2-0 with both goals coming in the last ten minutes. Their placement in the play-off was by being in Group 9 of the nine European groups rather than having the worst record of the qualifiers.


Chile was placed in Group 3 of the CONMEBOL qualification alongside Peru and Venezuela although the Venezuelans withdrew. On 29 April 1973 Chile was defeated 2-0 by the Peruvians in Lima. In the home game on 13 May 1973 Chile won 2-0, making both teams equal on points and goal difference. A play-off was held on neutral ground in Montevideo, Uruguay, where Chile triumphed 2-1 to face the Soviets.


First leg[edit]

On 26 September 1973 the Soviet Union hosted the first leg of the play-off against Chile in Moscow. It finished 0-0 and was refereed by a Brazilian, Marques:

Second leg[edit]

The second leg was due to be played at the Estadio Nacional de Chile on 21 November 1973. FIFA president Sir Stanley Rous rejected attempts by the Soviets to move the match to a less controversial stadium. The Soviet team did not enter the field of play for the match, but the Chilean team and the referee (Mr. Erich Linemayr from Austria) did. FIFA expelled the Soviet Union from the tournament, and Chile went on to the finals in West Germany.



The Chileans were drawn alongside the hosts West Germany and two first-time entrants: East Germany and Australia. In the first game, Chile lost 1-0 to West Germany, the goal being scored by Paul Breitner in the first half. Sergio Ahumada equalised for Chile in the second game to draw against the East Germans, but a 0-0 draw to Australia eliminated Chile from the World Cup. The two German teams advanced.

Soviet Union[edit]

A period of decline started for the Soviets as they also missed out on the 1978 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships of 1976 and 1980.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of World Football 1999 edited by Glenn Moore