Clear Proof That Leeds Were Robbed in the 1975 European Cup Final Against Bayern – by Rob Atkinson


1975

Billy Bremner, clearly not interfering with play as Lorimer lashes the ball past Sepp Maier

We’ve all known it for nigh on 44 years, but here, for anyone who might have had even a shadow of doubt, is the ultimate proof that Leeds United were robbed of their rightful European Cup triumph in Paris way back in 1975. A glance at the photograph above, which captures the moment that the ball flew off the right boot of Peter Lorimer (arrowed), past German international keeper Sepp Maier and into the Bayern Munich net, clearly shows that Billy Bremner, who had been pushed into a marginally offside position, was way out of the line of sight between Maier and Lorimer. So it was impossible that Bremner was interfering with play and, by any interpretation of the laws then or now, the goal should have stood.

The goal was disallowed, of course, only after the insistent intervention of Bayern captain Franz Beckenbauer, a player noted for his habit of pressurising and influencing match officials. Beckenbauer had also been involved in a first half penalty claim for Leeds, scissor tackling Allan Clarke in the Munich area. It was the clearest penalty you could possibly wish to see, the type that even one of today’s Football League referees would have been hard pressed to deny Leeds. There was another penalty claim in that first half too, Beckenbauer involved again when he seemed to handle the ball on the ground inside his own area, but referee Michel Kitabdjian, may his name be cursed for all eternity, blithely waved both appeals away.

Leeds United fans on the night expressed their displeasure and sense of injustice in the most violent manner, resulting in a subsequent European ban for the club. It was a night, to quote a distinguished American president on the occasion of Pearl Harbor “that will live in infamy” – and, believe me, in a football context, given the scale of the injustice and the prestige of the trophy at stake, that oblique comparison does not seem invalid.

Subsequent interviews and retrospectives have been interesting in that there has not been much evidence of the Bayern players in that final disputing the injustice that took place. If anything, they tend to hold their hands up and acknowledge that their triumph was a mixture of luck and larceny – Leeds were robbed, not only of that big, beautiful trophy, but also of European Cup qualification the following season. Uli Hoeness, the great Bayern forward, was once interviewed and asked about 1975. In his own words, he said that the result was a travesty. The better team lost and they lost for no other reason than the performance of the referee. That’s cold comfort four decades on, but it counts for a lot in any debate about the fairness or otherwise of the outcome that night.

I remember the Final well, it was a shattering experience for a 13 year old kid who was dreaming of seeing former manager Don Revie‘s great team put the seal on their immortality. And it was just as devastating for the White Army who followed United to Paris – they deserved better than a tawdry con trick, especially after they’d witnessed their heroes being robbed of another European trophy two years earlier in Salonika – take a bow Christos Michas, another spectacularly bent UEFA referee. It makes you wonder – has any other club been blagged quite as often and quite as lavishly as Leeds United?

We all know the answer to that. But all this time later, we still hold our heads up high, knowing that the proof is out there and that, morally at least, we have two more European trophies than the record shows. Some of us will be campaigning to our last breath for UEFA to recognise this, retrospectively award us our trophies, and set that official record straight.

All together now: “We are the Champions, Champions of Europe…” 

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20 responses to “Clear Proof That Leeds Were Robbed in the 1975 European Cup Final Against Bayern – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Horrible memory Rob.
    I thought the ref had disallowed it because Lorimer took it before he was ready – he was counting his bribe!!!
    Rigsby nearly broke his telly!!!

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  2. Michael Foley

    To this day any time I see Beckenbauer on TV it turns my stomach,he is in my opinion a total fraud.

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    • I feel the same, and yet he’s so venerated in the game. He stitched us up three times that night.

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      • Off topic, but only slightly: Beckenbaur is far from whiter than white – he was banned and fined by the FIFA Ethics Committee for refusing to co-operate with an enquiry into the curruption over the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FIFA also opened proceedings surrounding the 2006 World Cup. The word ‘fraud’ flatters him.

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      • Apt summary of a man whose reputation baffles me.

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  3. Life is LUFC

    How I hate that mans name…Beckenbauer. Nothing but a lying cheat who could not play an honest days game of football if his life depended on it. Apparently known as The Kaiser, the North American meaning which translates as a lump of dough baked into the shape of a pinwheel. However being German he likes to think he is an Emperor, delusions of grandeur in any self respecting Leeds United fans eyes.
    The lump of dough, half baked at that, is the better of the two meanings in my opinion.

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  4. Still a ‘touchy’ subject in our house this game.Cheating barstewards.

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  5. howard mackey

    Rob, we all know we were cheated that night its like Kenneth Williams said in that carry on film “infamy,infamy,they have all got it infamy” UEFA-FA-EFL….M.O.T.
    Regards H.

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  6. My late dad who was at the final always talked about how we were robbed because of the influence of Beckenbauer.

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  7. The Damned United

    #MOT – is truly what we do. “Ups and downs” as the song says.

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  8. Keith Boyce

    It’s more than just a coincidence that both Uli Hoeness and Cheat Beckenbauer have been convicted of fraud/dishonesty in recent years,Once a cheat,ALWAYS A CHEAT….#PARIS75

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  9. Mario Buttigieg

    It’s so refreshing reading this throwback. One seldom comes across references to the strange decisions of both finals of 1973 and 1975 that so drastically affected a football team like Leeds. I was 19 in 1975 and as an ardent Leeds fan who watched both finals felt, like other Leeds fans, shattered. After all these years I still cannot understand how such things could happen and be accepted by the powers that be, irrespective of the fact that the games were watched by millions of viewers. But then again similar strange decisions against Leeds continue to happen to the present day, and the fact that no one can question referees decisions in retrospect, gives them a huge leeway to be as subjective as they wish to be on how to look at aspects of the game, and this is why such irresponsible decisions by some referees continue.

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    • Thanks for that – most thought provoking. It might be worth an article about the collective psyche and motivations behind those powers that be down the years. I’ll have to have a cogitate about that.

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  10. Hi Rob. My son Michael was born at 5.40pm on Wednesday 28th May 1975. Every year I would give him a loving clip round the ear, ask him what day this is to which he would reply “Leeds lost the European Cup*. I would give him a hug and say Happy Birthday. I still do this now every year.
    My wife has never forgiven me in almost fifty years for taking the birth so calmly, being excused visiting time that evening and ending up a complete nervous wreck, totally demoralised and needing therapy for many weeks. I have to re live this every year so you will understand why I am so, so desperate for a good end of season.

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  11. Nice piece, Rob. I must admit that I’m late to the Leeds party. I wasn’t fortunate enough to see or remember Leeds at their peak under Don Revie. But I’ve done a fair bit of ‘catching up’ on that side since the late 1980s.

    As for this game, this really was the final kick in the teeth. Yet another daylight robbery. I’ve been all over the internet, trying to find footage of Lorimer’s goal which shows the referee’s immediate reaction to it. Does he signal a goal, or does he signal for offside? Sadly that crucial evidence seems to be missing from the grainy footage, with the referee out of picture.

    My own best guess? The Germans bought him, just as the Italians bought the other guy in ’73 in Salonica. One can almost imagine him groping for the slightest reason for not allowing a perfectly good goal, and when he saw Beckenbaur’s hand going up, he had his way out. And as for that tackle on Clarke…

    Leeds were robbed that night, pure and simple. UEFA, that supposedly all-powerful body, should have launched an investigation after that match, given the two stonewall incidents. But, of course, they didn’t take a blind bit of notice.

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    • I’ve written about those travesties of justice a few times on here over the years. They still niggle at me, I think they always will. I know exactly how you feel, mate – MOT

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  12. Allan Dawkins

    Hello rob,
    As a young lad of 23 I was at that game in May 1975, and to this day it still hurts, regarding the travesty of a result! I am in on e of the iconic photos showing Leeds fans ‘rioting’ in the stands! 1st row in yellow shirt afro hairdo standing next to my mate! I will never forget that night, with Leeds blatantly robbed of the ultimate title which that Leeds team richly deserved! Beckenbauer was a great player but that night he blatantly twice when he handled the ball in the penalty area, then bringing down ‘Wrong half’ Clarke with a scissors tackle wrapped around Clarke’s legs. The final injustice was pushing Bill Bremner into an offside position just before Peter Lorimer scored. adding insult to injury he went to the ref to complain and had the decision reversed. I have been speechless ever since. That team along with the 1968 – 69 side were the finest teams ever to play in a Leeds United shirt!

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    • I was nearly 14 and I’d never seen such injustice. I’ve seen plenty since, but that was the only time I actually wept from sheer anger and frustration.

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