11 June 2010
Why does the BBC think that the World Cup started in 1986?

Some of you may have been watching “The World Cup’s most shocking moments” on BBC3.  I know I was.  It was, as the title implied, a countdown of what the producers reckoned were the 50 most shocking things to ever happen in the tournament.  “Great”, I thought “We’ll get to relive England 0 USA 1; Spain 0 Northern Ireland 1; West Germany 0 East Germany 1, the Battle of Berne and the Battle of Santiago.

But no.

It seemed that as far as the producers were concerned the World Cup started in 1986.  There was not a mention of anything before that - well, apart that is, from Scotland’s 1978 World Cup song (“We’ll really shake ‘em up when we win the World Cup.”) which in my ideal world would be mentioned at all times and everywhere, World Cup or not.

So, what was going on?  It could be that the producers felt that anything before 1986 would be boring and “irrelevant” to a modern audience.  But I doubt it.  If there’s one thing that generates an interest in history in young men it’s football.

I think the real reason is that they couldn’t get permission to use the footage. Which in itself is odd.  I understand that if you want to show anything in Formula One since 1980 you have to get Bernie Ecclestone’s permission.  And I wonder if a similar process was going on here but in reverse.

The other oddity was that they could show every second of the last World Cup final except the one in which Zidane headbutted Matarazzi.  Now, to give them their due they did say they couldn’t show it.  At which I thought “Fantastic.  I’ve kept a tape of the game.  I’ll have to arrange a screening.  It’ll be like Clockwork Orange all over again.”  So, you can imagine my disappointment when I saw the headbutt in all its glory ITV4.  Which rather made me wonder why the BBC chose to lie about it.

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