1966 FIFA World Cup™
1966 World Cup: Gripping tales and inspirational traffic lights
25 Jul 2016
It is widely claimed that England is the birthplace of football. One thing that is beyond doubt is that the first rules of the game were established there in 1863. That made the nation's joy at hosting - and ultimately winning - the eighth FIFA World Cup™ 103 years later all the greater.
In order to mark the 50th anniversary of that spectacular tournament, we take a closer look at the exhibits and stories in the 1966 World Cup gallery housed in the FIFA World Football Museum, which opened its doors in Zurich for the first time six months ago.
Our memories and associated emotions make the history of football a unique, exciting and extremely rewarding experience. When fans think back to the 1966 tournament, the name Pickles immediately springs to mind: the dog who became world famous after finding the stolen Jules Rimet trophy before the competition got underway. The 'Wembley goal' in the final between the host nation and West Germany is another unforgettable moment, as is the image of Bobby Moore leading his team to the Royal Box in order to receive the trophy from Queen Elizabeth II. But did you know that it was at that World Cup 50 years ago that the idea for yellow and red cards was born?
Confusion between Kreitlein and Rattin
When looking at the England 1966 showcase in the museum, visitors' attention is immediately drawn to a match ball, a note pad, a pencil and the referee's whistle. All of these objects were used in the quarter-final between England and Argentina, which the hosts won 1-0 in front of 90,584 spectators at Wembley. West German referee Rudolf Kreitlein officiated the game and the events during it were partly responsible for one of the most important innovations in football. The match was a tetchy affair and after 35 minutes Kreitlein sent off Argentina captain Antonio Rattin. The pair argued with each other for several minutes on the pitch, even though Kreitlein spoke no Spanish and Rattin no German. Eventually Rattin departed, leaving spectators and commentators thoroughly perplexed.
Aston's revolutionary idea
English referee Ken Aston, chairman of the Referees' Committee, was also present at the match and was all too aware of the challenges Kreitlein faced. Four years earlier he had officiated an equally bad-tempered match at the 1962 World Cup, the so-called 'Battle of Santiago' between hosts Chile and Italy. The game witnessed at least one left hook, a broken nose and two expulsions. The police were forced to intervene on several occasions.
Those two matches got Aston thinking that referees needed a tool to communicate their decisions. While travelling through London he saw a traffic light switch from yellow to red. It proved to be his eureka moment and the idea for the yellow and red cards was born. They were introduced four years later at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
What other exhibits from the 1966 World Cup can be seen at the FIFA World Football Museum? Sit back and watch our short video on this section of the exhibition, in which diverse original objects are presented and explained by historian Guy Oliver.