The World Cup is on the horizon and to celebrate Sportsmail will be revealing our greatest ever goals, players, matches and kits in a series of articles throughout this week. We kick things off with ten of the most controversial moments in World Cup history…
With the biggest prize in football at stake this summer at the World Cup, we are set for another intriguing summer of action.
The World Cup always provides fans with plenty of elation and heartbreak but most of all drama. And there will for sure be controversy yet again in Russia with players using everything in their armoury to land the dream prize.
From Diego Maradona’s Hand of God to Andres Escobar’s ‘deadly’ own goal, here Sportsmail takes a look at the 10 most controversial moments in World Cup history…
The World Cup in Russia gets underway on June 14 and there is sure to be more controversy
10) BATTLE OF SANTIAGO – 1962
When tensions run high between nations in the build up to any match, especially on the biggest stage of all, you know it’s going to be a feisty affair and this is exactly what happened between Italy and Chile in 1962.
Temperatures rose in Chile after two Italian journalists described Santiago in crude terms, while they also questioned the beauty and morals of the country’s women.
Chilean media fired back by slamming Italy and as a result, the match ended in a bloodbath.
Within 12 seconds of kick-off, the first foul was committed by Giorgio Ferrini and after 12 minutes, the same man was sent off for a tackle on Honorino Landa.
However, he refused to leave the pitch and was forced off by policemen. Landa retaliated by punching out at Ferrini but didn’t receive a red card.
English referee Ken Aston then failed to notice Leonel Sanchez’s punch on Italy’s Mario David, which occurred in retaliation. But the Italian hadn’t forgotten and exerted revenge moments later, after kicking Sanchez in the head to pick up a red.
The violence didn’t stop there. Sanchez then broke Humberto Maschio’s nose with a punch to the face before the teams engaged in scuffling and spitting. Police had to intervene not just once more… but three more times.
Oh, and if you wanted to know the result, Chile won 2-0.
9) PATRICK BATTISTON KNOCKED OUT – 1982
A semi-final encounter in any competition, let alone the World Cup, is going to be intense and West Germany against France was exactly that.
The match, won by West Germany on penalties after an enthralling 3-3 draw following extra-time, is remembered for the most notorious foul in World Cup history.
Not a week goes by when France’s Patrick Battiston is not asked about being the victim of a horror challenge by Harald Schumacher.
The two European giants were locked at 1-1 when Battiston was racing towards the opposition goal in hope of latching onto a loose ball ahead of West Germany goalkeeper Schumacher.
Battiston did manage to get a shot away, which trickled wide, but Schumacher’s momentum ensured that he horrifically steamrolled into the defender.
The impact was so severe that Battiston was knocked out cold, lost teeth, cracked his verbetrae and subsequently slipped into a coma. However, the referee awarded a goal kick and Schumacher didn’t even receive a booking.
It became known as the Tragedy of Seville.
Patrick Battiston lies on the ground after being knocked out cold by Harald Schumacher
8) IRISH CIVIL WAR – 2002
Ireland’s 2002 World Cup campaign got off to arguably the worst start possible.
Saipan, Ireland’s training camp prior to the start of the tournament, witnessed Ireland’s very own civil war between the two most influential characters within the squad.
Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy came to blows after the then Manchester United skipper, in an interview with an Irish paper, discredited Ireland’s preparation for the tournament and was overly critical of the manager’s training methods.
Tensions continued to grow and Shay Given revealed in his autobiography in 2017, that Keane told his boss in a team meeting: ‘Why the f*** are you asking me a question? Who the f*** are you? You were a s**t player and you’re a worse manager.
‘You’re a w***** as a man, you’re a w***** as a manager and you shouldn’t be managing my country. F*** you, and you can f***ing stick your World Cup.’
Subsequently, and not surprisingly, Keane was sent straight back home before the tournament started in South Korea and Japan. Ireland progressed through their group but were then defeated in the last-16 stage by Spain on penalties.
Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy had their very own Irish civil war before the 2002 World Cup
Keane was sent home after discrediting Ireland’s preparation and slamming McCarthy
7) LUIS SUAREZ HANDBALL – 2010
With South Africa already knocked out of the 2010 World Cup, the hope of the continent was resting on Ghana.
The Ghanaians were up against Uruguay in the quarter-finals but they were left cheated and crushed come the end of the match.
Dominic Adiyiah looked to have headed in a winner for Ghana in the dying seconds of extra-time but Luis Suarez cruelly denied them from scoring after handling the ball on the line.
The Uruguayan striker was rightly sent off and Asamoah Gyan had the chance to put Ghana through to the semis from 12 yards out.
However, Gyan’s penalty struck the crossbar and Suarez dramatically celebrated like he had just scored the winner as he watched the spot-kick from the sidelines before heading down the tunnel.
Cruelly for underdogs Ghana, they were knocked out in the penalty shoot-out. Suarez became the villain of South Africa.
Luis Suarez denied Ghana a winning goal at the end of extra-time after a handball on the line
Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot-kick before Uruguay went on to win on penalties
And four years later…
During the group stages of the 2014 World Cup, Suarez bit Italy centre back Giorgio Chiellini, causing a massive stir off the pitch.
The striker, who previously bit Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League game back in April 2013, was suspended from all football-related activity for four months.
In addition, he was banned for nine international matches, which ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup in Brazil.
Suarez shockingly bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup group stages
Chiellini pulls his shirt down to try and show the referee Suarez’s bite mark during the clash
6) RONALDO SCARE AHEAD OF FRANCE FINAL – 1998
The stage was set for Ronaldo to shine and lead Brazil to World Cup glory against hosts France in the Paris final.
The 21-year-old Brazilian striker had scored four goals in the build-up to the France showdown after a brilliant debut season for Inter Milan, where he had netted an incredible 34 goals.
However, what was meant to be a glory-defining day for Ronaldo which could have ended in him winning the Golden Boot, turned into a disaster.
When the initial team sheet was published, Ronaldo’s name was remarkably nowhere to be seen, leaving commentators and fans alike stunned.
However, a revised team sheet was then sent out with the Brazilian’s name on it. Despite his late inclusion, Ronaldo was surprisingly subdued as France ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
It was shockingly revealed afterwards that hours before the match, Ronaldo had suffered a ‘convulsion’.
It was revealed that Ronaldo suffered a ‘convulsion’ before Brazil’s 3-0 final defeat by France
Ronaldo, aiming to win the Golden Boot, was very subdued during the final in France
5) DIEGO MARADONA FAILS DRUG TEST – 1994
With Argentina one of the favourites to lift the World Cup in the United States and Maradona playing like his old self, the world of football was shocked to hear that he had failed a drugs test.
After being suspended from the Italian league in 1991 for 15 months for testing positive for cocaine, it appeared that Maradona was once again on the road to recovery.
The controversial yet irresistible footballer scored one of the goals of the tournament in the opening game against Greece.
Fernando Redondo played a sideways pass to Maradona on the edge of the box following a fine one-touch move, before the Argentine great smashed home into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Maradona famously celebrated by sprinting straight to the nearest camera before wildly screaming down the lens.
However, following Argentina’s second match, FIFA announced that Maradona had tested positive for a banned substance, ephedrine.
He missed the rest of the tournament and was again banned for 15 months. Finally, he retired from the game in 1997 at the age of 36.
Diego Maradona scored one of the goals of the 1994 tournament but then failed a drugs test
Maradona waves away photographers at the airport after testing positive for ephedrine
4) HAND OF GOD – 1986
We are not still bitter, we promise. And no, it doesn’t still hurt. The 1986 quarter-final between England and Argentina is still one of the most controversial moments in football history, let alone the World Cup.
The second half of the match in Mexico City saw one of the most infamous incidents ever followed by one of the most famous goals of all time.
Maradona punched the ball into the net when jumping up against England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to put Argentina 1-0 up after officials failed to spot the offence. The footballing great later said he was aided by the ‘Hand of God’.
Just four minutes later, he then wowed the world with the ‘Goal of the Century’ as he picked up the ball in his own half before dashing past four England players and putting Shilton on his backside to tap the ball home and give Argentina a 2-0 lead.
The game finished 2-1 with Gary Lineker scoring a consolation goal, but who knows what the outcome would have been if Maradona’s first had been ruled out.
Maradona handles the ball into the net as Peter Shilton tries to punch it clear in Mexico City
After his ‘Hand of God’, the Argentine then scored the ‘Goal of the Century’ in the same game
3) GEOFF HURST’S ‘GOAL’ – 1966
Few moments in sporting history have provoked such fierce debate as Geoff Hurst’s second goal against West Germany in the 1966 final at Wembley.
With the game on a knife-edge at 2-2 in extra-time, the deadlock had again been broken in the 101st minute in the most dramatic fashion possible.
Hurst, having received a cross from Alan Ball in the penalty area, swivelled quickly before unleashing a fierce shot that bounced straight down after striking the underside of the crossbar.
Referee Gottfried Dienst was uncertain whether the ball had crossed the goalline and decided to consult linesman Tofiq Bahramov. England fans inside the stadium held their breath… and after a brief moment of conversation, the goal was awarded.
England held their nerve and ended up winning the game 4-2 thanks to a hat-trick goal from Hurst in the dying moments, meaning the Three Lions clinched their first and so far only World Cup on home turf.
Geoff Hurst’s third goal against West Germany in the 1966 final has provoked fierce debate
2) ZINEDINE ZIDANE’S HEADBUTT ON MATERAZZI – 2006
It should have been the perfect ending to Zidane’s international career but it in fact finished in ignomous fashion for the Frenchman.
During the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy, out of nowhere Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi with the scoreline at 1-1.
The midfielder was rightly shown a straight red after the fourth official alerted referee Horacio Elizondo.
It was later confirmed by Materazzi that he had insulted Zidane’s sister (rather than his mother, which was initially claimed) before the headbutt occurred.
After Zidane famously trudged past the World Cup down the tunnel as he contemplated his actions, France were beaten on penalties as the Azzurri clinched the greatest prize of all.
All the talk should have been about Italy’s triumph but unfortunately Zidane stole the headlines as he bowed out of international duty in disgrace.
Zinedine Zidane was shown a straight red in 2006 final after headbutting Marco Materazzi
Zidane trudges past the World Cup after his international career ended in disgrace
1) ANDRES ESCOBAR’S ‘DEADLY’ OWN GOAL – 1994
The biggest tragedy in the tournament’s history happened just after the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Colombia, one of the dark horses to win the tournament, began with optimism but their tournament ended in absolute disaster as they were knocked out at the group stage after losing to hosts USA.
Colombia captain Escobar scored an own goal to put the USA 1-0 up before the South American outfit were eventually defeated 2-1.
And his mistake proved fatal as he was shockingly shot to death after the World Cup while on a night out.
Escobar’s death shocked the world. While no one knows exactly why he was murdered, he was the victim of the lawless chaos that gripped Colombia.
For the football world, the Colombian was a talented defender who is still held in the highest regard by the country’s fans. More than 120,000 people lined the streets of Medellin for Escobar’s funeral.
Cesar Gavaria, then the president of Colombia, spoke to the mourners.
‘Andrés Escobar will remain in our hearts as our hero of moral integrity, as a family man and exemplary Colombian,’ he said. ‘Colombia must not let its best children be expelled from life’s playing field.’
Andres Escobar scored an own goal against the USA as Colombia crashed out of the World Cup
The own goal proved costly and he was shockingly shot to death after the 1994 World Cup
Colombia fans display a banner in tribute to Escobar following his shocking death
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.