France's victory was a perfect storm of talent deficit and poor luck. France was already expected to paste the perennially semi-pro Gibraltan squad, but that was before defender Ethan Santos managed to complete the brace of shame by scoring an own goal and drawing a red card within the first 18 minutes of the game. The floodgates subsequently opened, the angels and/or demons sang, etc. It was the biggest victory in Euro qualification history. But was it the most embarrassing?
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If anything, it's more a testament to Gibraltar's penchant for punching above their weight that something like this hasn't happened before. The territory is two and a half square miles, 66% of it is a mountain, and it might have more boat-sinking killer whales than soccer players. Despite that, this is the first time they've ever given up double-digit goals in an international match. They've even notched a few wins along the way.
14-0 is rough, but is it the most embarrassing loss in the world? Not quite.
The many historic losses of San Marino
If you want to talk embarrassing, there's San Marino, the country Gibraltar lifted the unfortunate record for biggest Euro qualification loss from. Their last victory came in 2004 in a friendly against Liechtenstein; in fact, that game is their only victory ever.
Instead, San Marino collects impressive losses like nobody's business. They've lost 9-0 on four separate occasions, three times in Euro qualification matches and once in World Cup qualification. They can add to that a 10-1 loss against Belgium, 10-0 losses to England and Norway, and an 11-0 loss to the Netherlands all in either Euro or World Cup qualification matches.
And then, there is the granddaddy of them all: a 13-0 loss to Germany on home soil in qualification for Euro 2008. Germany were up 11-0 against a full-strength San Marino with 20 minutes left in this game. If anything, they let up.
France needed three goals in the final 10 minutes of Saturday's match against 10-man Gibraltar to hit 14 and break Germany's record. Believe what you want, but this still seems like a worse loss to us.
This one's interesting because every single goal in this match mattered. In most of these blowout losses, people are scoring for fun at the end. There aren't huge stakes in the second half.
But in 1983, Spain needed to beat Malta by 11 goals in order to squeak past the Netherlands on a deep tiebreaker. And Malta didn't seem content to just roll over and let Spain have it, at one point leveling the score at 1-1 with a goal of their own and keeping things relatively competitive with a score of 3-1 favoring Spain at half-time. Then the second half happened.
With each rippling of the net, there's a sense of dread that creeps into the faces of the Maltese defenders. But again, Spain needed every single goal, and so the stakes of the game continue to be raised as they inched closer and closer to the seemingly impossible tally. By the end of the game, the Spanish fans are in delirium and Malta in shock and horror. Truly a game to forget.
It's one thing to suffer a huge loss on the international stage; it's another to do it at a World Cup.
The 2019 version of the USWNT came into the World Cup meaning business, and Thailand was competing in the finals for just the second time in the program's history. It was a collision course decidedly favoring one side, with the eventual tournament winners not flinching to take care of business.
Of course, what was arguably a more embarrassing moment from this match was the suggestion from many observers that the American players shouldn't celebrate goals scored at a World Cup. Best of luck with that take.
Germany 7-1 Brazil, 2014 World Cup
8 years ago today, Germany faced Brazil in the World Cup semifinals.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 8, 2022
The rest is h1s7ory. pic.twitter.com/6S8yTou5VY
It might not be the biggest loss on this list by value, but it surely is the biggest one in terms of shame and disgust.
A personal anecdote: My brother and I, sons of a Brazilian woman, watched this game at the closest bar to our respective apartments, and bedecked ourselves in yellow and green for the occasion. The bar we went to was a German pub. End of personal anecdote.
This loss is so big that almost none of the thumbnails you see of it are pictures of German players celebrating one of the most emphatic victories in World Cup history. It's all pictures of Brazilian players crying in front of their home fans, who are also crying, or angrily gesticulating, or both. The emotional damage wrought upon Brazil by this loss is incalculable and is surely the most embarrassing moment in the nation's soccer history.
Australia 31-0 American Samoa, 2002 World Cup qualifying
It's a loss so massive that its subjects would eventually inspire a Taika Waititi movie, and it's still the biggest loss in international soccer history. In fact, Australia's 31-0 victory over American Samoa was so huge, it not only cause an entire format change in Oceania to create preliminary rounds for World Cup qualifying and avoid such embarrassing defeats for overmatched teams but was also probably a factor in Australia leaving Oceania altogether and joining Asia for international competition.
Australia entered the second half up 16-0, and so the first thing they did off the kick off was shoot the ball from half field. Maybe it was a bit of cheek, maybe they were simply trying to give American Samoa the ball in a show of mercy, but keeper Nicky Salapu didn't quite control the ball that bounced to his hands and nearly gave up a corner kick off it anyway.
If you've already seen Next Goal Wins or are familiar with the American Samoa story, you'll know that this story ultimately ends in a bit of vindication for the team. But it all begins with the most embarrassing loss in soccer history.