When Bayern Munich won the European Cup three times in a row in the 70’s each was controversy. In particular the 1975 final still hurts many Leeds United fans. As a club who have never won Europe’s premier competition Leeds came so close to tasting success in ’75 only to be cheated out of it.
Peter Lorimer scored a perfectly good goal for Leeds early in the match. The referee initially saw nothing wrong with it, but after a quiet word in the ear from Franz Beckenbauer he was persuaded to consult his linesman who Beckenbauer also talked into disallowing the goal.
This set the tone for the game. Decision after decision went against Leeds and the game turned sour. What should have been the centre piece for European football in a year with no international tournament will always be remembered for some of the worst refereeing decisions ever and every one of them went against Leeds.
To anyone who has seen the footage thoughts of bribery and intimidation of the match officials always springs to mind. To this day Leeds fans still sing “We are the Champions, Champions of Europe” in protest at the referee’s decision and UEFA’s refusal to sanction a rematch or to discipline or even investigate the referee.
The referee on that day “Michel Kitabdjian” would never referee at that level again. There was no formal admission from UEFA that something suspicious had gone on, no doubt they wanted to avoid the embarrassment, but if it wasn’t bribery, Beckenbauer and his Bayern cronies were certainly guilty of intimidation.
This “victory” for Bayern came in between two of the luckiest Cup victories of all time. 1974 saw them lift the trophy as a result of a very late equaliser, having been dominated by Atletico Madrid they equalised with the last kick of the game and went on the win the replay.
’76 saw them triumph again due solely to the shape of Hamden Park’s goal posts. The square posts at Hamden meant that when St Etienne hit the post twice the ball bounced away rather than going in as it would have done with round posts. Bayern would go on to win the game 1-0.
Without these three European triumphs Bayern would not stand out at all as a European superpower any more than other one time winners such as Celtic, Steau Bucharesti and Red Star Belgrade.
They cheated their way to Europe’s top table and their achievements while there will always be marred by memories of in particular 1975.