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Japan / Korea 2002

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Let's look back at the seventeenth World Cup, held in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and won by Brazil - their fifth win. This is the only time the Finals have been jointly hosted.

With 195 teams attempting to qualify, the qualification tournament was extraordinarily complex. For example, both Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago played 22 games and both still failed to qualify. With every game crucial, FIFA's choice of referee was important. The referee must be absolutely neutral. The game between South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho was one such crucial game. FIFA went all out to find a neutral referee. Eventually they settled on Boxen Chinagu of Zambia. You can imagine FIFA's dismay and embarrassment when Zambian officials informed them that Chinagu was dead. And had been for six months.

The World Cup qualifiers for 2002 produced some very high-scoring games. New Zealand defeated Fiji 13-0 in August of 1983. This was the record score for a World Cup game and it stood for a long time. Until November 24, 2000, when Iran defeated Guam 19-0. Less than six months later Australia defeated Tonga 22-0 to set a new record, not just for World Cup games, but for all full internationals. But the Aussies weren't done yet. Two days later they defeated American Samoa 31-0.

The goals times were 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32, 33, 37, 42, 45, 50, 51, 55, 56, 58, 60, 65, 66, 78, 80, 81, 84, 85, 88 and 89. Archie Thompson finished with 13 goals beating the previous records for goals in a game of 7 for a World Cup game and 10 for a full international.

When Madagascar played Tunisia on May 5, 2001 the Madagascan starting 11 players all had surnames beginning with the letter 'R'. What's more all three substitutes used on the day did too. And so did their coach. Somewhat ironically they referred to themselves as Club M.

England's FA advised the travelling Barmy Army to try an "make an effort" to show some courtesy and sensitivity towards the culture of Japan and Korea. Good luck you may say. But one guy made a genuine effort. He went to a T-Shirt shop in Japan and asked for the words "England on Tour - I Love Japan" to be translated into Japanese and put on a shirt. No-one is sure if the message was lost in translation or the printer was having a laugh, but what he ended up with was "Gay submissive Englishman seeks muscular Japanese boy". None the wiser he wore it to England's first game against Sweden.