Back in 1994, this was what passed for a World Cup scandal: Diana Ross missing a penalty in the opening ceremony.
As @AntiqueFootball points out, it is 21 years ago today that the Motown legend shocked a packed Soldier Field and a worldwide TV audience, setting the noble cause of U.S. soccer back years and casting doubt on whether it was even worth bothering to set up MLS.
The alarm bells should have started when the ex-Supremes songstress hesitated in her run-up, doing a couple of stutter-steps. Diana: when in doubt, always go for power above placement. Either she lost confidence in her technique or she was wondering whether it was feasible to continue with singing I’m Coming Out while striking the ball at the same time.
In her defense, there was clear encroachment in the penalty area by a dozen minions in strange costumes. But ultimately, there’s no excuse for missing from 12 yards, especially when the goalkeeper was surely primed to deliberately let the shot in, because who wants to be the guy who upset Diana Ross at the World Cup opening ceremony?
In a doom-laden portent, emcee Oprah Winfrey fell off the podium moments after introducing Ross. And the tournament that began with a terrible spot-kick blunder ended with one, as Italy’s Roberto Baggio blasted over the bar in the shoot-out in the final, handing the trophy to Brazil.
Incredibly, Ross’s solo career did not suffer and only 18 months later she did the halftime show at Super Bowl XXX, where she did not fumble any touchdown passes.