It was the 35th minute of the quarter-final between hosts England and Argentina at the 1966 FIFA World Cup. German referee Rudolf Kreitlein verbally sent off Argentinian captain Antonio Rattín from the pitch, as at the time, cards did not yet exist. But Rattín refused to leave the pitch. Instead, he positioned himself directly opposite of Kreidlein, who is a head length shorter, and they argued, with their points lost in translation. But Kreitlein, a tailor by profession, remained steadfast and was later nicknamed the “Brave Little Tailor’, like the Brothers Grimm story of the same name. This situation set off a process that led to the introduction of the yellow and red cards a few years later.
A passionate referee on his way to the top
Kreitlein, born in 1919 in Fürth, Bavaria, was a passionate referee from an early age. Restricted by the Second World War, he did not make his national debut until 1954. Nine years later Kreitlein made his international debut at the 1963 UEFA Youth Championship in England. In the Final between the hosts England and Northern Ireland, he was so convincing that he was nominated to referee the FIFA World Cup, which was also held in England three years later in 1966.
Cautions in the paper
At the World Cup Finals, Kreitlein then led the game that would go down in history: the infamous quarter-final between England and Argentina. From the very first minute, the game was marked by fighting. Even before the famous scene in the 35th minute, three Argentinians and the English brothers Bobby and Jack Charlton had already been cautioned. Legend has it that the Charlton brothers only learned of their cautions the next day - from the newspaper. These warnings, but also expulsions, were only given orally and the brothers had simply not heard theirs. The fact that bookings were only given verbally would have a major impact later in this game