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Year
1973

Soviet Union refuses to play Chile in World Cup Soccer

The Soviet Union announces that, because of its opposition to the recent overthrow of the government of Chilean President Salvador Allende, it would not play a World Cup Soccer match against the Chilean team on November 21, if the match were held in Santiago. The International Football Federation had given the Soviets until the 11th to decide whether they would play the game. With the Soviet refusal, the Federation disqualified the Soviet team from World Cup play. It was the first time in the history of World Cup Soccer that a team had boycotted over political issues.The Soviet team had played the Chilean team to a 0-0 tie in September, in a game that took place in Moscow. It steadfastly refused to play the rematch in Santiago, charging that the stadium in which the game would take place had recently been the scene of the torture and killing of Allende supporters during the coup. Allende, a Marxist, was killed during the takeover. The Soviets offered to play the game in a neutral country, but the Federation refused this compromise and the Soviet team, that had reached the quarterfinals in the last World Cup in 1970, was eliminated from competition. Despite fears that other Iron Curtain countries would join the boycott, teams from East Germany, Bulgaria, and Poland participated in the 1974 games held in West Germany.This would not be the last time that Cold War battles found their way into international sporting events. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, President Jimmy Carter asked the U.S. Olympic team to boycott the 1980 games to be held in Moscow. The U.S. team acceded to this request.

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