FIFA World Cup

A brief history of Fifa World Cup: Argentina 1978, when La Albiceleste finally won, controversially

The great Dutch team of the seventies were second best at the biggest stage yet again.

It’s that time again! The greatest show on earth is upon us. Ahead of the Fifa World Cup in Russia, we look-back at the 20 tournaments before and the standout aspects from them.

Next up, the hosts Argentina finally win the World Cup, but this story was not one of just success...

Argentina 1978

“With what I know now, I can’t say I’m proud of my victory. But I didn’t realise; most of us didn’t. We just played football.” – Argentina’s striker Leopold Luque, years after the World Cup was lifted.

Despite a threatened boycott by several nations in protest at the Videla military regime, all the qualifiers assembled in Argentina. There was controversy surrounding the absence of Johan Cruyff as, he was widely regarded as the best player in the world at the time.

Some thought he had fallen out with the Dutch FA, many thought it was a sign of protest against the Argentinean dictatorship, but decades later he revealed it was because of a kidnap attempt that his family had survived months ahead of the tournament.

“I don’t know if you know that someone [put] a rifle at my head and tied me up and tied up my wife in front of the children at our flat in Barcelona,” he’d say.

The same format as 1974 was adopted – two group phases and no knockout stages – and controversy surrounded Argentina’s passage into the final.

The Argentines, for whom the long-haired Mario Kempes was a revelation up front, romped to a 6-0 win over Peru in their final match of the second phase to oust Brazil on goal difference, prompting cries of fixing from their South American rivals.

Holders West Germany failed to beat the Netherlands or Italy and were eliminated after a 3-2 loss to Austria, a famous win for them, celebrated till date as the Miracle of Cordoba. The Dutch, however, thrashed the Austrians 5-1 to reach the final again, but they were without their master Johan Cruyff, who had stayed at home.

And the final began in controversial fashion as well, as the BBC noted:

“As the ticker tape rained down on the Estadio Monumental pitch in Buenos Aires prior to kick-off on 25 June, the drama that had engulfed the tournament took another twist. Argentina’s players, desperate for any advantage they could find, objected to a bandage worn by the Dutch winger Rene van de Kerkhof on his right arm and the start was delayed.”  

Once again the Dutch were beaten, to the delight of the 77,260-strong crowd in Buenos Aires. Argentina took the lead through Kempes after 37 minutes before substitute Dirk Nanninga equalised late on. In extra time Kempes restored Argentina’s lead and Daniel Bertoni made it 3-1, leaving captain Daniel Passarella to lift Argentina’s first World Cup. The Dutch refused to join in on the celebration.

A World Cup campaign surrounded by controversy came to an end. “In hindsight, we should never have played that World Cup,” Luque was quoted as saying. “I strongly believe that.”

Stats and trivia

  • Argentina, who controversially played all their matches in the night for the advantage of knowing what happened in their groups, had to beat Peru by four clear goals in their last second-round match to reach the final. They eventually won 6-0 with what some commentators noted was “suspicious ease,” according to ESPNprompting suggestions the game had been rigged. The fact that Peru’s keeper Ramon Quiroga had been born in Argentina did not help matters. No proof emerged, but the result still rankles.
  • One of the consequences of that, and an incident in 1982 involving Germany, Austria and Algeria, the practice of final group matches kicking off at the same time came into force.
  • The ’78 World Cup saw an African nation win a match at the finals for the first time, when Tunisia beat Mexico 3-1.
  • 25 years and one month: Daniel Passarella, the youngest captain to lift the World Cup Trophy.  
  • 48 years: Longest gap ever between appearances in the final of the World Cup, as Argentina were present in the summit clash for the first time since the inaugural event in 1930.
  •  A 17-year-old Argentinean, who had made his international debut 15 months earlier, was reportedly inconsolable after being left out of Argentina’s final squad. Why is this significant? The teenager was a certain Diego Maradona. His time, as you all know, would come.
  • Kempes, who would go on to win the golden boot, hadn’t scored a world cup goal in 11 hours and 38 minutes before his six in the 1978 edition. The legend, according to Fifa archives, goes that: “Heading into the second-round meeting with Poland, Cesar Luis Menotti persuaded Kempes that shaving off his moustache would help him end his drought. The cleanly-shaven ‘Matador’ responded.”
  • Leading goalscorer: Mario Kempes (Argentina) – 6 goals
  • Total number of goals in the tournament: 102 (2.7 goals per match) 

For your viewing pleasure

The final


The moments of success

Official poster

With AFP and inputs

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”


“Like what?”


A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”




“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:


This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.