Five of the best football conspiracy theories

Jose Mourinho raged at a "plot" to put Barcelona in the final after the controversial Champions League clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Wednesday

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Here, The Sport Review takes a look at five great football conspiracy theories, including Wednesday night’s El Clásico.

1) Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 2, 2011

Barcelona’s 2-0 victory over bitter rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg was riddled with controversy.

The German referee, Wolfgang Stark, dismissed Real defender Pepe for a high challenge on Barcelona right-back Dani Alves and Real Manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for his reaction to the decision.

Cue an understated post-match reaction from the Special One. “It could have been 0-0 tonight, but then suddenly we are down to 10 men and they have a free path to find solutions that they could not find before then.”

“The question, is why? I don’t know if it is the Unicef sponsorship or if it is because they are nice guys. I don’t understand.

“Congratulations to Barcelona on being a great team and congratulations for all the other stuff you have which must be very hard to achieve. They have power and we have no chance.”

2) Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1, 2009

Chelsea’s tumultuous elimination from the Champions League at the semi-final stage two years ago was shrouded in controversy after the Blues were denied a number of penalty claims by Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.

Michael Ballack’s frantic protests were waved away, and after the final whistle Didier Drogba memorably shouted “it’s a f****** disgrace” into television cameras, earning him a six-game ban from Uefa.

3) Internazionale 3 Liverpool 0, 1965

Liverpool held a commanding 3-1 lead over Internazionale in their European Cup semi-final going the second leg at the San Siro.

But Bill Shankly’s team slumped to a 3-0 defeat in Italy in controversial circumstances as Spanish referee Jose María Ortiz de Mendibil allowed two controversial Inter goals to stand and later ruled out what appeared to be a legitimate Liverpool goal.

“They were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out,” recalled Liverpool’s Tommy Smith. “Next thing we knew their left-half Mario Corso pops up and chips the ball straight past Tommy Lawrence.”

Smith added: “I’m not saying any of the Inter players were on the fiddle, but the fact is the ball didn’t touch anyone and the referee was adamant it was a goal.

“Their second was just as bad, if not worse. We are 2-0 down and 3-3 on aggregate. Ian St John then scores and there’s nothing wrong with it, but the referee chalks it off for offside.”

4) Leeds United 0 Bayern Munich 2, 1975

Leeds rebounded from Brian Clough’s turbulent 44 days in charge at the beginning of the 1974-75 campaign and reached their first European Cup final under Jimmy Armfield.

The English side dominated their German opponents, but Bayern captain Franz Beckenbauer escaped punishment for a handball inside the Bayern area and later committed a foul in the box which went unpunished by referee Michel Kitabdjian.

And in the second half Peter Lortimer had a goal controversially ruled out for an offside, sparking riots in the stands which would later result in Leeds being banned from European competition for two seasons.

5) Anderlecht 3 Nottingham Forest 0, 1984

Nottingham Forest won the first leg of their Uefa Cup semi-final 2-0 at the City Ground against their Belgian opponents, leaving Brian Clough’s side as certain favourites to reach the final.

But Anderlecht stunned Forest with a rampant 3-0 win in Belgium after Spanish referee Emilio Guruceta Muro controversially ruled out a Forest goal which would have sent the two-time European Cup champions into the final.

Anderlecht later admitted to paying Muro a £20,000 “loan” before the game, making this clash the only proven case of bribery affecting an English team’s progression in Europe.

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