Soccer's conspiracy theorists love to claim that their team lost a World Cup only because a particular game was fixed in favor of an opponent, usually the host nation. The 1978 competition, hosted and won by Argentina at a time when the country was ruled by military dictatorship, usually attracts the most attention in such discussions. And Italian fans still talk passionately about their exit at the hands of co-host South Korea in 2002.
Now former FIFA President Joao Havelange has claimed to a Brazilian newspaper that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were fixed so that respective host nations England and Germany would win. Havelange, FIFA's iron-rod wielding chief from 1974 to 1998, claimed that Brazil were dumped out of the 1966 tournament by a coalition of European referees from the eventual finalists. "In the three matches that the Brazilian national team played in 1966, of the three referees and six linesmen, seven were British and two were Germans," Havelange, 92, told Folha de Sao Paulo. Pele was injured early in the tournament "just as the Englishman Sir Stanley Rous, who was the President of FIFA at the time, had wanted."
"In Germany in 1974 the same thing happened," said Havelange, warming to the theme. "During the Brazil-Netherlands match, the referee was German, we lost 2-0, and Germany won the title. We were the best in the world, and had the same team that had won the World Cup in 1962 in Chile and 1970 in Mexico, but it was planned for the host countries to win." So now we know.