Private Stache: Brawling In The Stands At The 1986 World Cup

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As keeper of Sports Illustrated's indispensable Vault, Andy Gray spends a lot of his time sifting through the sports photography of another time, when athletes wore short shorts and facial hair, and everyone looked vaguely uncomfortable. Here is one such photo.

As the World Cup begins, and soccer fans wake up from their four-year slumber, let's look back at the 1986 quarterfinals matchup between Argentina and England. A crowd of nearly 115,000 fans packed Aztec Stadium for this meeting of two powerhouses. It turned out the action in the stands was every bit as exciting as the action on the field. In the photo you see here, an English fan (towel on head) exchanges blows with a Argentina supporter (tie), a sort of Falklands War in miniature, only this fight probably lasted longer. Clive Gammon describes the atmosphere on a hot summer day in Mexico City:

Like Diego Maradona, as the 114,580 people who watched him play for Argentina in its 2-1 win over England at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Sunday would testify. There had been speculation that the game would be a bloodbath, a soccer-field replay of the 1982 Falklands conflict, IT'S WAR, SEÑOR! headlined The Sun, the notorious London tabloid and WE PLAY AGAINST THE "PIRATES" thundered the equally notorious Cronica of Buenos Aires. The game was a tough one, but there were few political echoes.


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