How a coin deprived the USSR of medals in the European Football Championship

Post-match penalties were not always the way to determine the winner if there was a draw during regular and extra time of the match. Once upon a time this question, the question of the winner of the match, was determined much less costly - the match referee simply ... tossed a coin.

Now, when there are millions in football, when showing matches on television costs a lot of money, when everyone is watching even an insignificant tournament, when football has turned into a successful business, of course, it is impossible to imagine such a turn of events. But then, in 1968, the outcome of the semi-finals of the European Championship between the national teams of the USSR and Italy was decided that way. Just imagine for a second: the semi-finals of the European Championship, the main competition of the continent - and a coin! Which, among other things, is thrown into the referee's room!

The USSR national team in that semifinal match looked better than the Italians, but the match ended in a goalless draw. According to the tournament regulations, in such a situation it was necessary to throw lots.

Now the fate of the match had to be determined by lot. The team captains gathered in the judging room - defenders Albert Shesternev and Giacinto Facchetti, three judges who worked at the match, and UEFA representative Spaniard Augustin Pujol. The coach of the USSR national team Mikhail Yakushin also managed to be in it. He later recalled what happened as follows:

“I made my way into this room by hook or by crook. The foreign participants in the draw looked at me in bewilderment, but without guessing who I was, they proceeded to the official procedure.

First, they decided which coin to cast the lot with - Italian or French. We chose French. Puhol asks Shesternev which side of the coin he chooses. During this time, I managed to carefully examine the coin and noticed that one side of it, called the "figure", was slightly convex. Since I was fond of the game "heads or tails" as a child, I realized that the chances of a coin falling up with its convex part is much greater.

I suggest to Shesternev: “Choose a figure!”. He stands detached. I told him: "A figure!" And he is in a state of prostration and hears nothing. The chubby got tired of waiting, and he turned to Facchetti - choose, they say, you. The Italian immediately realized what was the matter and said: “A figure!”. Puchol tossed a coin, it fell to the floor, and Facchetti's solemn cry was heard: “A figure!”. The Italians reached the final of the European Championship ”.

The happy Facchetti returned to the field to shout out at the top of his voice: "Italy!" And the stadium "San Paolo" exploded with shouts of delight. The Italian national team reached the final of the 1968 European Championship and beat Yugoslavia, taking first place.

Yakushin, according to Pshenichnikov's stories, then went to the bar and got drunk properly, realizing that defeat is even that! - may cost him a lot of trouble.

And the USSR national team, alas, became the only team in the history of the European Championships that was credited with a defeat with a coin that fell on the wrong side ... In the match for third place (then the regulations of the European Championships assumed such a match) the team lost to the British, for the first time in history. without medals.