The Malta Independent 20 June 2021, Sunday

Watch: 1983 12-1 defeat against Spain - Maltese players say they were drugged

Tuesday, 20 March 2018, 14:09 Last update: about 4 years ago

Two former Maltese national football players, Silvio Demanuele and Carmel Busuttil, as well as former coach Victor Scerri, said that Maltese players were drugged in the infamous 12-1 defeat against Spain on 21 December, 1983 at Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville.

The revelations were made in a TV programme aired on Spanish media on Monday.

To qualify for the 1984 European Championships, at which they eventually finished second, Spain needed to defeat Malta by a margin of 11 or more goals to qualify ahead of the Netherlands, who had beaten Malta 5-0 four days earlier.


Spain beat Malta 12-1 – 3-1 at half-time – to make it through at the expense of the Dutch.  Naturally, with nine of the 12 goals scored in the second half alone, the match has since been shrouded in claims of match-fixing or cheating.

Speaking on a TV programme on Spanish TV Network Movistar, Demanuele, who was the lone Maltese scorer in that match and refutes that the Maltese team had fixed the game, explained that he had known the effects of steroids due to his brother’s interest in bodybuilding, noting that the Spanish players had foam in their mouths and could not stop drinking water.

Scerri attributed the performance of the Maltese team down to potentially drugged lemon wedges that ‘a man dressed in white’ gave to the Maltese players at half-time. This is corroborated by Demanuele who said that he felt drunk and like he had gone out to Paceville.

“We have no proof, and I hope not because if there is, football is finished,” Scerri said.

On the other hand, Busuttil said that the game had already been a nightmare and that the poor condition and location of the hotel and training sessions had raised suspicions.



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