It’s time to get excited: the 20th World Cup in Brazil is now just a few weeks away.
And you’ll know that each World Cup comes with its own fair share of controversy, reckless challenges and dodgy haircuts. While we wait for the madness to begin, here’s our list of the World Cup’s most ridiculous and controversial moments:
1 – UruguayVs. Brazil 1954. Brazilian hearts
In this first tale, there are no particularly abhorrent pieces of refereeing, or sinister government plots. Just a really, really unexpected result.
In 1954, the hosts Brazil had to draw against Uruguay to win the World Cup. But never mind the draw, they expected to win. As did 200,000 Brazilian fans in the Maracana.As did everybody else. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. Uruguay came from one goal down to shock Brazil and the footballing world.
The result is still the source of Brazil’s most significant national trauma. Even the white shirts they wore that day have never been used again – rejected in favour of a more successful yellow and blue. Neymar, Luiz, Paulinho and co are hoping that they can lift the trophy at home this year and put an end to 60 years of hurt.
2 – England Vs. Germany 1966: The goal that wasn’t
English football’s greatest moment. Eleven minutes into extra time of the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley, with England and West Germany tied at two goals apiece, Geoff Hurst swivels in the penalty area and strikes a ball against the bar. It drops down against the line marking. England players appeal. Was it a goal? Did it go in?
The Kazakhstani linesman Tofik Bakhramov, the only Kazakhstani in England more popular than Borat, says yes – although replays have since shown him to have made the wrong decision. England go 3-2 up and later add a fourth on the way to their first, and so far only, World Cup.
Legend has it that the famous linesman on his deathbed uttered a one-word explanation for his dodgy decision: “Stalingrad”.
3 – Argentina Vs. Peru 1978: Dodgy dealings help the hosts
Argentina faced an uphill struggle to reach the 1978 World Cup Final. They needed to beat Peru by four clear goals to get there ahead of their hated rivals Brazil. Luckily, they had the corrupt Argentinian government on their side who, it was rumoured, were paid handsomely to let the hosts win.
And win Argentina did – 6-0. More naughty hi-jinks in the final occurred as the hosts won 3-1 after extra time against the luckless Dutch.
4 – Kuwait Vs. France 1984: A Kuwaiti in the crowd disallows a goal
When France, led by the ‘three Musketeers’ of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana and Alain Giresse, took the lead in 1982 against an unfancied Kuwait side, no-one was particularly surprised – or bothered. Apart from, that is, Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the head of the Kuwaiti FA who was outraged that a whistle from the crowd had distracted his players.
Livid, he stormed onto the pitch, ordered his players to leave the pitch and gave a piece of his mind to the referee Miroslav Stupar. The beleaguered Ukrainian ref buckled and reversed his decision.
It’s the only time a goal in the World Cup has disallowed a goal. France still won 4-1.
5 – Argentina Vs. England 1986: The Hand of God
More naughty behaviour from the Argentines. With the Falklands War still fresh in the memory of both nations, this promised to be an intense, serious battle. But no-one expected God to step in – or his hand at least.
In the second half, Maradona lept towards a high ball and used his hand to direct the ball past a helpless Peter Shilton. Everyone saw that happened except the referee. Later on, Maradona showed the true godly nature of his game with perhaps the best goal ever scored at a World Cup.
6 – South Korea in 2002: Home benefits for the hosts
The World Cup is littered with controversial moments benefitting the hosts – another reason why you should probably put some hard-earned dollar on Brazil to win this year.
In 2002, the hosts got very lucky with some particularly suspect refereeing from Byron Moreno of Ecuador, who gave a dodgy penalty to South Korea, unfairly sent off FrancescoTotti for diving and incorrectly ruled out an Italian winner.
Spanish fans were also distraught in the quarter final as two clear goals were disallowed before the Koreans won on penalties.
7 – France Vs. Italy: Zidane loses his head
Zinedine Zidane, one of the finest footballers ever, was having an Indian summer in 2006. The great Frenchman planned to retire after the 2006 World Cup and dragged his team to the final where they met a miserly Italy side.
Things started well for Zidane as he scooped a perfect penalty into the top corner in the 7th minute. But after Italy equalised and the match went into Extra Time, the supremo pressed self destruct. Marco Materazzi made some choice statements about his mother/sister/girlfriend and Zidane saw red. Literally.
Italy won 5-3 on penalties, with David Trezeguet the only Frenchman to miss a penalty. If only Zinedine had still been on the pitch.
Author – Bowcom provide the most accurate, high-quality line marking services to some of the world’s most famous grounds – from Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium to Goodison Park and Hampden Park.