Red Flag: 12 Biggest World Cup Controversies of All-Time

Landon Donovan’s thrilling game-clinching goal to solidy the United States’ advancement in this year’s FIFA World Cup was legendary for American soccer– ranking among the top remarkable plays of the 2010 international tournament. BUT–let’s not forget that just one game prior, the United States suffered one of the worst officiating performances in World Cup history–trademarked by a blatantly bogus penalty call that eliminated a critical goal with the potential of jeopardizing U.S. hopes of running the field again for the cup.

In light of the championship chase, here are the Top 12 World Cup Controversies of All-Time (via BleacherReport):

12. Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah Disallows Goal (France; 1982)

In their only ever World Cup appearance, Kuwait were put into a group with Czechoslovakia, France and England and were not expected to do anything. After managing a 1-1 draw in their match against Czechoslovakia, Kuwait faced France and found themselves down 4-1 after hearing a whistle from the stands, which caused the players to stop as they thought that was the official. As a result, Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, (then-president of the Kuwait Football Association), pulled all of the players from the pitch. And with that, Ukrainian referee Miroslav Stupar decided to disallow the goal, marking the first (and only time) a person from the stands changed the result of an official. Despite this, France still won 4-1 and Kuwait were eliminated from the World Cup.

11. Fabio Grosso’s Penalty (Italy vs. Australia; 2006)

After failing to make it into the knockout stage of the World Cup in their only other World Cup in 1974, Australia turned a corner and were able to have a very solid 2006 World Cup that had them against Italy in the Round of 16. In the match, Italy went down to ten men in the 50th minute when Marco Materazzi was red carded for a tackle that probably only deserved a yellow card. Regardless of that, the match was 0-0 when Fabio Grosso went into the penalty box with the ball, and a missed tackle by Australian Lucas Neill gave Italy a last second penalty. On the ensuing penalty Francesco Totti converted as Italy went on their way toward their fourth World Cup.

10. Josip Simunics Three Yellow Cards (Croatia vs Australia; 2006)

In the 2006 World Cup Group Stage match between Croatia and Australia, English referee Graham Poll was in charge of the deciding match of Group F’s runners-up spot. And the Englishman (who had dreams of officiating the final) left his mark in a way that he has wanted to forget. It all started in the seventh minute when Josip Šimunić pushed Aussie captain Mark Viduka away from the ball, which raised appeals for a penalty that were denied by Poll. But this was not the last we heard of Šimunić, as in the 61st minute, Šimunić got a caution on a tackle of Austrailian Harry Kewell. In the 90th minute, Šimunić got his second booking for a bad foul, but Poll did not show him the Red Card. After the final whistle, Šimunić and Poll finished up their act with Šimunić going up and pushing Poll, causing Poll to Red Card Šimunić.

Afterward, Poll revealed that he accidentally gave Australian Craig Moore and not Šimunić on the second offense, and due to the fact that Šimunić is Australian born, it was easier for Poll to make his mistake due to Šimunić’s English accent.

9. Battle of Nuremberg (Portugal vs Netherlands; 2006)

In the World Cup, play can find itself to become even more chippy than usual, but in a Round of 16 match in the 2006 World Cup, it got out of control. What probably made this even more surprising was the fact that it was Portugal and the Netherlands who were involved, not exactly two sides that are very chippy. But from the start of the match, Russian referee Valentin Ivanov had no control, as he was forced to hand out a record four Red Cards and an unprecedented 16 yellow cards, both of which are records in a FIFA tournament.

It all started with Marco van Basten getting a booking in the second minute, and all hell broke loose afterwards, as Portuguese legend Luis Figo only got a Yellow Card for a headbutt (which is an automatic red card under FIFA rules).

In the match, Portugal wound up winning 1-0 on a goal from Maniche, but afterward, Portugal’s manager Luiz Felipe Scolari approved Figo’s headbutt, stating “Jesus Christ may be able to turn the other cheek but Luís Figo isn’t Jesus Christ.”

And of course, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Ivanov “should have given himself a yellow card for his poor performance during the match.”

8. Schumacher Attacks Battiston (France vs West Germany; 1982)

In the semifinal of the 1982 World Cup, West Germany were in the second half of the semifinal against France, where substitute Patrick Battiston went into the box to chase down a lose ball, but his life was about to change forever.

On that play, West German keeper Harald Schumacher went in and twisted his body with his butt facing forward, causing Battiston to the ground, as Battiston suffered damaged vertebrae and lost two teeth in the collision as it appeared that he nearly lost his life.

And to add insult to injury, Dutch referee Charles Corver ruled the play to be a goal kick, not a penalty (which clearly should have been the call) and Schumacher made the final save on a penalty to get West Germany onto the finals, where they lost 3-1 to Italy.

7. Battle of Santiago (Chile vs Italy; 1962)

 Chile faced Italy in a Group 2 clash.

There was added heat to the match as just two years prior in Chile, the largest earthquake in history (a 9.5 on the Richter Scale) and two Italian journalists (Antonio Ghiredelli and Corrado Pizzinelli) both labeled Santiago as a dump before the World Cup, causing even higher tensions for Chile.

Just 12 seconds into the match, the first foul was committed and Honorino Landa was sent off in the 12th minute and had to be escorted off by police after refusing to leave the pitch.

Throughout the match, there were many different incidents that happened such as Chile’s Leonel Sanchez punch to Italian Mario David (for which Sanchez was not sent off), but David was sent off several minutes later after kicking Sanchez in the head.

Later on, Sanchez broke Humberto Maschio’s nose with a left hook and police had to intervene three more times to break up the numerous scuffles during the match.

Chile won the match 2-0 on goals from Jaime Ramírez and Jorge Toro in what is the most infamous match in World Cup history.

6. “Anti Football” Advances Germans and Sends Home Algerians (1982)

Playing in their first ever World Cup, Algeria made a major splash on the world’s stage in Spain by winning their first match against West Germany and found themselves extremely close to advancing onto the next group. But in the final group fixture, the games were played at different times, which allowed West Germany and Austria to learn that a 1-0 West German victory over Austria would be enough to advance onto the next round.

And within ten minutes, West Germany were able to get that goal before the entire game came to a screeching halt as West Germany and Austria did nothing else of major significance for the rest of the match.

And as a result of that, Austria and West Germany advanced over Algeria in a moment that West German manager Jupp Derwall,argued “we wanted to progress, not play football.”

Today, all final fixtures in a World Cup group match are played at the same time to prevent this from happening again.

5. Italy Stands Up For Fascism (France vs Italy; 1938)

In the final World Cup before World War II, Italy (who were the defending World Cup Champions) were in the middle of their run towards a second World Cup title when controversy struck.

It was in the quarterfinal match against France in France, where many former Italians and Frenchmen who hated Fascist Italy were ready to jeer them. But due to the fact that France also wore a blue kit, Italy were forced to wear their white alternate kit.

But on Mussolini’s orders, the team took to the field in black shirts, (the Maglia Nera), a symbol of the feared and despised Italian fascist paramilitary. And the Italians did their fascist salute before beating France on their way as they held the World Cup for the next 12 years.

4. South Korea and The Officials (2002)

Going into the 2002 World Cup, South Korea (who were one of the two host nations) expected themselves to finally advance out of the group stage for the first time in their history, but their great World Cup will always be overshadowed by the referee’s.

After the group stage, South Korea got their first “break” against Italy in the Round of 16, in which the referee (Byron Moreno of Ecuador), seemed hell-bent on ensuring the Koreans progressed, disallowing a perfectly fine Italian goal and controversially sending off Francesco Totti, for diving. As a result of this, South Korea won 2-1 on a golden goal from Ahn Jung-Hwan.

And in the quarterfinal, South Korea once again got the benefit of the doubt as Egyptian Referee Gamal Al-Ghandour disallowed two legal Spanish goals and his linesmen judged one Spanish attack after another to be offside, as South Korea went on to win 5-3 on penalties to reach the semifinals.

Shortly afterward, both referee’s were forced to retire due to match-fixing (Moreno) and allegations and receiving a new car for helping South Korea to advance (Ghandour).

3. Diego Maradona’s Hand of God (1986) & Doping (1994)

One of the most controversial figures in sport’s history, Diego Maradona had a major impact in World Cup history, and he has had two of the most memorable moments in sport’s history to back himself up.

The first one was in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England, in which Maradona left his mark in the 51st minute when he went into the box to challenge English keeper Peter Shilton for the ball (who held an eight inch advantage over Maradona).

But Maradona became “bigger” than Shilton for a moment, as he hit the ball into the goal with help from “The Hand of God” to give Argentina a stunning 1-0 lead as they went on to win 2-1 and win the World Cup.

Eight years later and several hundred miles to the north, Maradona finished off his World Cup career as a player after testing positive for drugs, which forced him to be suspended and Argentina shortly afterward were eliminated from the World Cup.

2. Argentina Winning 1978 World Cup

In the 1978 World Cup, Argentina had several controversial moments as they went on their way toward their first World Cup title.

The controversy begun in the final match of Group B (which was in the Second Round). In that final match, Argentina had to beat Peru by at least four goals to get into the final over arch rival Brazil. And Peru were able to knock six goals in past Peru’s keeper Ramón Quiroga (who bizarrely was born in Argentina) to get Argentina into the World Cup final.

In that final against the Netherlands, the Dutch were forced to take an extra long route to the Estadio Monumental for the final, and shortly afterward they took to the pitch without the Argentinian National Team, which remained in their locker room for ten extra minutes, which forced the Dutch to face the hostile 70,000 plus Argentine fans screaming at them for ten minutes.

Due to these factors, Argentina were able to eventually beat the Netherlands by a 3-1 score in extra time to give Argentina a controversial first World Cup title.

1. Bakhramov Rules Geoff Hurst’s Goal in 1966 World Cup (West Germany vs England)

 

In the 1966 World Cup final, one of the most controversial moments in sport’s history happened in the 101st minute of the final between England and West Germany. On that play, England’s Geoff Hurst hit his shot off the crossbar, which ricochet down onto the goal line and went out.

On the play, Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst was undecided if the play was a goal or not, but Soviet referee Tofik Bakhramov signaled to Dienst that the ball crossed the line. According to Bakhramov’s memoirs, he believed the ball had bounced back not from the crossbar, but from the net, which made the movement insignificant.

According to a story of when Bakhramov was on his deathbed he was asked how he was so sure it was a goal and he gave the one-word reply “Stalingrad”, which is the name of the city in the then Soviet Union in which over 75,000 Soviets died against Nazi Germany.

#PEEP the remaining games and see what controversial moments may arise next.

— @allthingmitch

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