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The Disgrace of Gijón, and how it matters to the Chargers-Raiders game tonight

Think a tie in the Chargers-Raiders game tonight would be bad? We look back on one of the great scandals in sports history when both teams manipulated the outcome to advance.

German players Felix Magath and Horst Hrubesch fight for the ball with Austrians Roland Hattenberger and Bruno Pezzey during the 1982 World Cup group game between Austria and Germany in Gijon, Spain on 25 June 1982. Germany led by a score of 1-0 in the first half after of the game. However, the game turned into a charade as both teams harmlessly passed the ball between each other until the final whistle. Photo by Wolfgang Weihs/picture alliance via Getty Images

Because of an upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts in overtime on Sunday, all the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders need to do is tie to both advance to the NFL Playoffs.

So what if both teams just jammed the ball into the line three times and then punted for 70 minutes? Or worse, just got into victory formation over and over?

That’s basically what happened on June 25th, 1982 as West Germany and Austria played the final game of Group 2 of the 1982 World Cup hosted by Spain.

Each of the six World Cup groups held four teams that played each other once. The five other games in Group 2 were completed, with Algeria beating Chile 3-2 on Thursday, June 24 to eliminate La Roja. Algeria’s record in the group stage was 2-1, but their goal difference after three matches was 0 (five scored, five conceded), and that was the tiebreaker for advancing to the next stage.

Before the game on June 25th, Austria was 2-0 and had a goal difference of +3. West Germany was 1-1, but had a goal difference of +2. So if Germany won by the score 1-0 or 2-0, or any score that was exactly a one or two goal victory, both Germany and Austria would advance.

What happened became known as the Disgrace of Gijón, named after the city which is home to Estadio El Molinón, where the match was played.

In the 10th minute, Horst Hrubesch scored for the Germans after a cross. And then... nothing. Both teams meekly passed the ball back and forth in their own end for the next 80 minutes, not even attempting to attack the opponents net.

While they both advanced, FIFA did begin an investigation. But since this is international soccer and European teams were involved, nothing happened and the unsporting results were allowed to stand. Algeria was denied advancement to the next group stage.

After this awful spectacle, the final day of football in all four-team groups in World Cups and most international events has all four teams playing at the same time, so this never happens again. Scoreboard watching is allowed, but playing to manipulate the standings is much more difficult when you don’t know the result you need until after the match.

Somehow if the Chargers and Raiders tried to pull something like this off on Sunday Night Football, we think Roger Goodell might not be as generous as FIFA. Especially with sportsbooks and gambling partners now in business with the NFL.