Monday, June 14, 2010

Famous Controversies in World Cup history

The World Cup has given football fans many a moment to cherish but disgrace and controversies have also been a part of it. From Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' to Zidane's Headbutt, take a look at the major controversies that left fans angry and exasperated.

1) It is rather strange that the most controversial goal of football history bears the name of God! 'The hand of God'- as Diego Maradona himself had described it, had occurred during the quarterfinal encounter between England and Argentina at the 1986 Football World Cup. Maradona leapt into the air to net the ball passed by Steve Hodge past England's goalie Peter Shilton. Later, the replays clearly showed that Maradona had indeed manipulated the goal used his palm. Minutes later, Maradona scored a second goal which is regarded as the best goal in the World Cup history. In fact the best and worst goals of football history happened during the same match, the very match that gave birth to the hostile soccer war between England and Argentina.

2) France's pride Zinadene Zidane was sent off in extra-time during their final match against Italy in 2006. Zidane had earlier netted a penalty kick, giving France an early lead. But Italy's Marco Materrazi scored an equalizer with a header soon. During extra time, Materazzi and Zidane got engaged in a wordy duel after Materazzi pulled Zidane's jersey. An angry Zidane, headbutted Marco thereby earning a red card. Later Zidane justified his action saying that he was prompted to do so because of the Italian's verbal insults and that he would rather die than apologising to Marco. However Zidane did apologise for setting a wrong example for the kids. Italy eventually won the match in a penalty shootout 5-3. Despite the incident, Zidane was allowed to keep the Golden Ball award.

3) The whole nation crucified Beckham for England's early exit in the 1998 World Cup. Beckham was fouled by Argentine Simione, and instead of waiting for the referee to take action, Beckham retaliated by kicking Simione back. Referee Kim Milton Nielsen issued a red card, and Beckham was sent off. The 10 men English squad eventually lost to arch-rivals Argentina. Simione later admitted to simulating the injury in order to get Beckham expelled. However Beckham paid his sweet revenge by netting a free kick against Argentina in the 2002 WC.

4) The price Columbian Andre Escobar had to pay for his self goal was his own life. During the 1994 US WC, Columbia was playing against the home team while Escobar's ill-fated attempt to stop John Harkes shot resulted in a self goal. The US won the match, paving way to Columbia's early exit. Latin American football is associated with betting issues of drug lords and Columbia's early exit is alleged to have caused gambling losses to some. Escobar was murdered in revenge for his own goal. He was shot outside a bar and the killer fired 12 bullets on him shouting 'Goal'. Ironically, Escobar who always wore the number 2 jersey was nicknamed 'The immortal number 2'.

5) In the 1982 World Cup, France was at its attacking best and virtually unstoppable. In their match against Kuwait they had scored three goals and when Alain Giresse netted the fourth he was astounded as there was a pitch invasion by the president of the Kuwaiti Football Association, Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who insisted that the goal was scored only after his players had heard a whistle blown from the stands and stopped playing.

6) Ahn Jung-Hwan was the executioner of Italian squad at the 2002 South Korea World Cup. It was Ahn's golden goal that resulted in the early expulsion of Azurris. Ahn was then playing for Italian club Perugia. After he scored the goal against Italy, the club owner Luciano Gaucci cancelled his contract saying that he has no intention of paying someone who destroyed Italian football. Ahn became a national hero for SKorea, but was ostracised by his club.

7) When it comes to controversies, the Argentinians can't be left behind. During the 1978 World Cup, Argentina was involved in a notorious controversy when they beat a paralyzed Peruvian side 6-0 to qualify for the finals. Rumours had it that Peru players were paid handsomely to fix the score.

8) The 2002 World Cup was a hot bed of controversies as hosts South Korea made it to the semi-finals with Italy, Spain and Portugal crying foul. Most of South Korea's oppositions claimed that they had been on the rough side of refereeing decisions as five gaols scored against the Koreans were disallowed and three opposition players were sent off. But the Italians were hit the hardest as the Koreans were awarded a dodgy penalty against them to knock them out in the second round.

9) In previous World Cup, during the England vs Portugal knock-out tie, we witnessed an unusual incident of club teammates take on each other on the field. The teammates in question are Portugal's Christiano Ronaldo and England's Wayne Rooney. Ronaldo's gesture to the referee, after Rooney stepped on Portuguese defender Richardo Carvalho's groin, saw an agitated Rooney shove Ronaldo, with Rooney being red-carded after the incident. England went on to lose this game and were knocked-out of World Cup 2006.

10)During the 1982 World Cup, West Germany were on the brink of being knocked out afetr a shock 2-1 defeat of West Germany by Algeria. With Algeria completing their group matches with a 3-2 win over Chile the previous day, West Germany and Austria faced each other both knowing that a win for Germany by one or two goals would see both teams progress on goal difference at the expense of the Africans. Once Germany scored, the game descended into a non-competitive farce. So much so that the Spanish crowd called for both teams to be ejected from the competition while a disgruntled Algerian FA lodged an official complaint with FIFA about the contrived result. FIFA ruled that the result should stand, but as a direct result all final matches in the group stages would be played simultaneously.

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Shreyas Pujari

Team Soccerphase

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