Diego Maradona, years after he scored two of his most memorable goals to bury politics at a soccer match. (USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

The U.S. men’s national team vs. Iran encounter at the 1998 World Cup was not the first time political futbol reared its ugly head in the Greatest Show on Earth.

Here is a short history of some dicey situations between teams over the years:


It was the meeting of the East and the West (the hosts) as both Germanys tussled in an opening round match. The East Germans prevailed, 1-0. Tight security surrounded the match and only 3,000 East German fans were allowed to cross the border because officials feared few would return to their Communist homeland. East Germany was eliminated in the next round while West Germany went on to capture the title.


During the days of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Poles took on the archrival Soviet Union needing a draw to reach the semifinals in Spain. They got what they wanted, a scoreless tie, which was hailed as a major political triumph. Poland went onto meet eventual champion Italy in the final four.


Four years after the Falklands War, England and Argentina played for the first time. There were banners everywhere at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City‌, including one claiming that the Argentines were going to launch on Exocet missile or two of the football variety. That came in the form of Diego Maradona.  He scored his infamous “Hand of God” goal and then via his incredible 60-yard jaunt through the English team en route to a 2-1 victory.