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Opinion

Raul Jimenez incident on Saturday had me thinking back to Schumacher and Battiston…

2 months ago
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It is now over forty one years since the most brutal assault on a football field I have ever witnessed, took place at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.

It was the 1982 World Cup semi-final between France and West Germany and it caused an international incident between the two nations.

The Germans had the likes of the uncompromising Stielike and Magath and the wily craftmanship of Paul Breitner in their ranks that night.

The injured Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would also later come off the bench to score in extra time.

The brilliant French had the skill and flair of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Tresor, Six, Rocheteau and Jean Tigana.

However, it was two previously unsung players that would grab all the headlines, for all the wrong reasons.

Deep into the second half and with the score locked at 1-1, man of the match Platini threaded a through ball to the onrushing Patrick Battiston.

West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher came charging from his goaline but Battiston had easily beat him to the ball.

The ball was knocked past Schumacher, eventually went just beyond the post, but this was only after Schumacher had inexplicably launched himself at Battiston.

The Frenchman was brutally taken out at head height by Schumacher’s right hip with his full body weight.

As the limp and seemingly lifeless Battiston lay stricken on the the edge of the eighteen yard box, a panic stricken Platini called for a stretcher.

It took paramedics seven minutes to attend to the unconscious Patrick Battiston. He was administered oxygen at the scene and was carried off the pitch like a fallen warrior on his shield.

I’m not going to go into what happened later in the game, other than to say it was one of the greatest World Cup games of all time.

Patrick Battiston eventually regained full consciousness in his hospital bed. He had lost two teeth and had three ribs broken. The wind had almost completely been sucked from his lungs, and he would go on to have lifelong back problems.

In the match, incredibly, a foul wasn’t even given, never mind a red card for the German keeper!

In the aftermath Harald Schumacher inflamed the desperate situation by declaring “if it’s only his teeth that need fixing, I’ll pay for a dentist.”

There were effigies of Schumacher adorned in the streets and on the lamp posts in France. German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt contacted his French counterpart Francois Mitterand in an effort to calm tensions down.

Later, a reconciliatory meeting between the players was set-up, but to this day Battiston insists that he cannot remember if Schumacher ever apologised. He says that he holds no grudges regardless.

So why have I chuntered on about this you may well be thinking?

During Newcastle’s 3-0 home win against Fulham on Saturday, Sean Longstaff was poleaxed by Raul Jimenez. The challenge bore a lot of the hallmarks of Schumacher’s assault on Battiston all those years ago.

Jimenez leapt into the air feet first, twisting his body into the challenge, his whole body weight collided with Longstaff at head height.

It was lucky Longstaff wasn’t seriously injured. I found it quite amazing that Fulham’s manager Marco Silva didn’t seem to recognise how bad the challenge actually was.

Referee Monitor Fulham Raul Jimenez Red Card

Now I know the Raul Jimenez challenge on Sean Longstaff was nowhere near as malicious as Schumacher’s on Battiston and I certainly don’t want to stop robust contact on the field.

However, it would be far better if players, managers and even fans, could own up to what would be labelled as a criminal offence if it was perpetuated on the street.

I do hope that Raul Jimenez had the Henry Halls to go and apologise to Sean Longstaff after Saturday’s match

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