A hint of collusion at the Euros
On 22 June 2004, Sweden and Denmark played to a 2–2 draw, getting the exact result they needed for both to advance in the Euros at the expense of Italy.
It was the final match day of Group C. Italy started the day two points behind Sweden and Denmark, having drawn against both, while both had already beaten Bulgaria, Italy’s opponent. In the event of a Sweden-Denmark draw, a win for Italy would only pull them level on points. As a tiebreaker, the rules looked to goal differential, then goals scored, but only as compared among the tied teams.
A draw between Sweden and Denmark would give all three teams the same goal differential, making goals scored the deciding factor. Denmark’s match with Italy was scoreless, while Sweden-Italy finished 1–1. So a scoreless result between Sweden and Denmark would put Italy through, while a score draw of 2–2 or higher would eliminate the Italians.
Italy raised the possibility of such a result before the games, but Sweden co-manager Lars Lagerbäck dismissed any possibility of a fix, saying “Machiavelli might have been Italian and Italians might like to think in a Machiavellian way, but it would not be possible to play for a 2–2 draw against Denmark and I don’t think it will end 2–2 — that is a very unusual result.”
<iframe width=”560" height=”315" src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/E8EWrlibXhk" frameborder=”0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
But 2–2 is what they got. Denmark took a 28th-minute lead from Jon Dahl Tomasson, then Sweden’s Henrik Larsson equalized with a 47th-minute penalty. The Danes reclaimed the lead with another goal from Tomasson (66'), but Sweden again drew level, this time with a strike from Mattias Jonson (89'). Italy beat Bulgaria 2–1, but that was their last contest of the tournament.