Arsenal Left In The Lurch By Politics On This Day, 18th October 1968

The South American champions were in England to play Manchester United for the second leg of the World Club Championship. Estudiantes emerged victorious from the first leg with a goal from Conigliaro. Nobby Stiles was targetted by Carlos Bilardo for what might seem to be the ultimate hatchet job and subsequently dismissed. The previous year’s meetings between Celtic and Racing Club had set the tone, this tie continued it. As if 1966 wasn’t enough to sour footballing relations enough.

Surprisingly Arsenal and Birmingham City both arranged friendlies against the Argentine club in the short time they were over. In the immediate aftermath of the return match with Manchester United, Estudiantes fled Britain to take on Internazionale with the rumour being that the Italians had offered more money for a strong side to be fielded. Surprisingly Inter put out their reserves but they still won the match 2 – 1.

Estudiantes hid behind the claims of their government involvement to avoid paying Arsenal compensation for the postponement of the match. I dare say some might consider this football’s way of rebalancing the books given Arsenal had tried to pull the same stunt in 1930 by reneging on an agreement to tour the USA when more money was offered elsewhere.





It’s rare that I include a non-Arsenal snippet but this is the match report from the World Club Championship in 1968, the moral outrage and indignation is clear to see and gives some context to the mood surrounding the Argentinians. If it was any consolation to United, a week later two Estudiantes players were sent off in an Argentine League match. It seems that nationality was barrier to their foul play at the time.