Unless you have been living in a cave you probably heard about that World Cup Semi-Final, you know the one – the most catastrophic World Cup defeat in the history of the competition. Brazil (5 times world champions) were trounced 7-1 in Belo Horizonte by a German team described by leading world experts (aka the BBC’s Match of the Day team) as “a ruthless well oiled machine”. Some described it as a “national humiliation”, others an “unfortunate game of football”. Within seconds of the game ending there were memes, tweets and posts mocking what had been a disaster for Brazilian football. Reports of Christ the Redeemer shaking his fists in rage were unconfirmed.
So that got Cherwell Sport to thinking; was this really the most embarrassing sporting defeat ever? Or have there been worse disasters? In our infinite wisdom, through meticulous research and debate, we have compiled a list of some of the most embarrassing sporting shocks.
1. Lindsey Jacobellis, Winter Olympics 2006.
The name may not be familiar. The incident probably is. Lindsey was cruising the final of the snowboard cross at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, with a 3 second, 47 meter lead over her opponent. The US competitor, in approaching the second jump decided to indulge in a bit of showboating. Attempting a celebratory “method grab” Lindsey managed to unbalance herself and fall, letting her opponent pass her, which meant she had to settle for a silver medal. Embarrassing? Yes. A national humiliation? You decide.
2. Rafael Nadal v Lukas Rosol/ Steve Darcis, Wimbledon 2012 & 2013
Tennis stars frequently lose. With 4 grand slams, a WTP championships and sometimes a bonus Olympic Games to play for, it is truly rare to find someone who wins everything each year. But nobody seems to know how to slip up quite as well as Rafael Nadal. In 2012, Nadal lost to someone who had not advanced beyond the first qualifying round of Wimbledon in 5 years. Lukas Rosol, ranked 100 in the world, dispatched the 14 time grand slam champion in a five set thriller. Reports that tendinitis had affected Nadal’s performance were unconfirmed (although the injury did make him pull out of the London Olympics later that summer). One year later he repeated the feat by losing in the 2013 version of Wimbledon to No 135 Steve Darcis, but this time in straight sets.
3. England v Australia, 2013-14 Ashes series
2013-14 was an odd time for English cricket. Managing to become the number one test team in the world in 2011 and having beaten Australia in the summer of 2013 3-0 at home, everyone was looking forward to another classic winter series. The Aussies had failed to win the ashes since 2007. What followed was not ideal. England lost the series 5-0, only the third Ashes clean sweep in history. The aftermath of the series saw a revamp of the England team – Swann retired, Pietersen was forced out- and now England have dropped to 5th in the world test rankings.
4. Garry Kasparov v Deep Blue, 1997
For those of you who are frightened of a post-apocalyptic society run by robots – this must have seemed like a bit of a watershed moment. Garry Kasparov was the world champion of chess, Deep Blue a supercomputer designed by boffins at IBM. A first game was played in Philedelphia in 1996 which Kasperov won 4-2. In a rematch the next year the computer won 3.5-2.5 although the game was tainted by Kasperov’s claim that the computer cheated. To the amazement of all Kasperov, considered the greatest chess player of all time, had lost to a machine.
5. Man City 6 v 1 Man Utd
If the World Cup has taught us anything, it is that we like to laugh at successful teams losing. Luckily for them, Brazil can take solace in the fact that this has happened before. Take the Premier League’s 2011 match between Man United and Man City. Nothing could have symbolised the rise of City over their historically successful rivals than a 6-1 thrashing at Old Trafford which signalled the beginning of the end of the Fergie era. Other Football shocks include the 2004 European Championships where a little known country called Greece managed to beat Portugal in their own tournament 1-0 to win the final- causing a 140-1 shock that will hopefully be repeated by England at the next tournament. Brazil have also been there before. In 1950, before Brazil had won a tournament, they lost 2-1 in the final to Uruguay in Rio, where only a draw would have seen them win the world cup.
6. Germany v Austria, 1982 World Cup
National humiliations come in all shapes and sizes. This one was embarrassing from an ethical perspective. Algeria had been the surprise of the tournament, beating Germany in the first game, and earning 6 points. They had beaten Chile earlier in the day. A win by one or two goals from Germany would see both them and Austria through. What followed was a national disgrace. Amid strong accusations of collusion- after Germany scored 1 goal within ten minutes neither side made any attempt to try to play football and instead opted for a boring version of keep ball for 80 minutes. Algerian fans were rightly outraged, throwing money onto the pitch. This year when they got their chance for revenge in the World Cup’s second round against the Germans. Algeria lost 2-1, but only after a heroic display that took them into extra time.
7. USSR v USA, 1972 Olympic basketball, and 1980 Olympic ice hockey
There is nothing more embarrassing than when you lose to your superpower rival in the middle of a geo-political superpower conflict. The US had never lost an Olympic basketball game, the USSR were not really that well known for basketball. So when, during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics the USSR won a last minute 81-80 victory, amid accusations of foul-play, there was national embarrassment aplenty. Fast-forward 8 year to New York- the cold war took another turn- this time in favour of the US. The “Miracle on Ice” (dubbed by the US media) saw a US team made up of amateur and collegiate players, defeat the USSR who had won 6 out of the last 7 winter Olympic ice hockey events. Both sides tried to take as much political capital as they could out of their respective victories.