In 1973, Chile Scored The Easiest And Saddest Goal In World Cup History

In the midst of this week’s World Cup Intercontinental Playoffs, we remember the 1973 Chile vs Soviet Union game, featuring one of the weirdest goals you will ever see.

There’s easy goals and then there is this abnormal, ghostly goal Chile scored in the 1973 World Cup Intercontinental Playoffs against the Soviet Union. 

But why ghostly? Some context is required in order to understand how this came to pass. In the 1970s, the Cold War was in full swing. The USA and the Soviet Union were competing to achieve world hegemony in terms of political and economical influence. 

This meant that often the USA and the Soviet Union would intervene in international conflicts, supporting opposing sides, in order to gain influence over specific regions around the world. This was the case, for example, in the Vietnam War, in the Korean War and in many other conflicts.

In 1973, right wing Chilean general Augusto Pinochet took over power via a coup d’etat against the left wing, socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile. 

The USA supported Pinochet at the time, as they wanted to limit the expansion of leftist ideology on the American continent. As you might have guessed, the USSR supported Allende’s government.

La Moneda under siege by the military

La Moneda under siege by the military @LaikaOrbital | Twitter

The most horrifying fact about this story is that, in the midst of the confrontations that took place as a consequence of Pinochet claiming power, the “Estadio Nacional” – the same stadium where Chile beat Messi’s Argentina in the 2015 Copa América – was used as a detention center by the military. 

It is said that prisoners were tortured and even executed in the premises.

Chilean newspaper

"There are 4 thousand detainees in Estadio Nacional" Photo: @GOLPEDIRECTO | Twitter

At that time, Chile was set to play the World Cup International Playoff against the Soviet Union. The clash was high voltage not only for the high sporting stakes but also because of the political context we just described.

Shortly before Pinochet seized power, the first leg had been played in Moscow, ending with a score of 0-0 that was deemed heroic by the Chilean press.

USSR vs Chile

"Triumphant draw for Chile" @pipeloyolam | Twitter

As a protest against Pinochet’s rise to power, the Soviet Union decided not to travel to Chile for the second leg of the World Cup Intercontinental Playoff.

You’d think that would be enough reason to cancel the game, right? 

Well, it turns out the match was not cancelled. FIFA insisted that the match be played even when USSR would not partake in it.

So instead, the Chilean national team attended the match and "played" against an invisible opponent. The two national anthems were played and then the referee blew his whistle signaling the beginning of the match.

The Chilean players started passing the ball on the semi-deserted field, headed straight to goal and scored a symbolic goal within the first seconds.

Chile NT 1973

Chile National team in 1973 @sebastianhoeing | Twitter

After the ghostly goal, the referee blew the final whistle, giving the victory to Chile.

Some of the Chilean players would later say they felt sorry for playing in a place where such horrific events had taken place in the recent past. However, they wanted to play in the World Cup and they fulfilled their professional duty. 

Watch the eerie scenes in the video below:

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