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Top 10 infamous incidents from the FIFA World Cup

As the 20th edition of Football’s biggest competition, the FIFA World Cup, has kicked off in Brazil, here is a look back at some incidents that made news, albeit for the wrong reasons

1. Geoff Hurst’s goal: England vs West Germany (1966 World Cup Final)
This incident could be the prequel to the incident that would go on to haunt England in the future. In the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany, after the scores ended 2-2 in normal time, Geoff Hurst scored a goal that bounced off the cross bar and fell ahead of the post. The event was counted as a goal and sparked protests among the German players. Whether the ball crossed the line or not was debated for many years ahead, but Hurst netted one more before the end of extra-time thereby becoming the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. England won the final 4-2.


2. Non-Aggression pact of Gijjon: Austria vs West Germany (1982 World Cup league stage)
This was one game that caused a change in rules in the future tournaments. West Germany and Austria went into their last league game of the 1982 World Cup knowing that both will advance into the next stage if West Germany wins 1-0 and thereby knock Algeria out of the competition as all three teams would have four points. The result was the same as expected as West Germany won 1-0, with neither team showing any form of aggression or creating chances on goal. Both teams were faced a lot of flak for this game and many even accused it of being fixed. FIFA then changed the rules stating that the last two games of every group will be played simultaneously so that neither team knows about each other’s result.


3. Harald Schumacher’s tackle on Patrick Battiston: France vs West Germany (1982 World Cup Semi-final)
In one of the most volatile World Cup games, West Germany took on France in the semi-final of the 1982 World Cup. The most shocking incident came when German goalie Harald ‘Toni’ Schumacher in an attempt to block an on-side Patrik Battiston collided into him with the ball nowhere in sight. Battiston was knocked unconscions, he had two broken teeth as well as a broken jaw due to the collision. However, in another shocker, the referee did not notice Schumacher’s foul and allowed play to continue by awarding a goal-kick. The match ended 3-3 after extra time, which West Germany eventually won on penalties.


4. Kuwait Walk away: France vs Kuwait (1982 World Cup league stage)
Before the tempramental clash against West Germany, France was involved in another controversy during the league stage. In their game against Kuwait, France comfortably led by 3-1. Alain Geresse scored a fourth one which sparked off protests among the players of the gulf nation. Apparently they heard a whistle blown from the crowd which they assumed to be the referee’s and stopped in their strides while Geresse went on to score the goal. The referee denied that which led to Kuwait threatening a walk-out. The president of the Kuwaiti Football Association also got involved in the farce which led to the referee disallowing the goal. France eventually won 4-1 after Maxim Bossis netted a ‘legitimate’ fourth goal.


5. Maradona's Hand of God vs England (1986 World Cup Quarter final)
Call it a cruel twist of fate, but England has been on the receiving end of many infamous decisions. However, this one has to stand out. In their quarter-final game against Argentina in the World Cup of 1986 held in Mexico, the legendary Diego Maradona, scored through his hands past the English goalie Peter Shilton, which later went on to be known as the ‘Hand of God’ goal. In the same game, Maradona went on to score a memorable goal, dribbling past five players that was in 2002 voted as the ‘Goal of the century.’ England lost the game 2-1 and was knocked out of the competition.


6. Frank Rijkaard spits on Rudi Voller: Netherlands vs West Germany (1990 World Cup, Round-of 16)
The round-of 16 clash between the Dutch and the German side was marred by an ugly incident as two great players; the Dutch Frank Rijkaard and the German Rudi Voller were involved in an ugly brawl. Frank Rijkaard spit on Rudi Voller, not once but twice. Voller was also involved in an altercation with other Dutch players. The resulting braw led to both players being sent off. West Germany won the game 2-1.

Zinedine Zidane
Zidane headbutts Materazzi. Pic/ AFP


7. Zinedine Zidane Head butt vs Italy (2006 World Cup Final)
It is said that people always remember you for the one bad thing you did and Zinedine Zidnae’s legacy will be the infamous head-butt he gave to the Italian Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, for which he was sent off. During extra time of a emotionally volatile final, when the scores were locked at 1-1, Zidane got into a scuffle with the Materazzi after which he alleges that due to Materazzi’s provocation, he head-butted him. Materazzi got away without punishment, Zidane’s career came to an inglorious end and France lost the final to Italy on penalties in which Materazzi scored as well.


8. Luis Suarez Handball vs Ghana (2010 World Cup, Round-of 16)
Liverpool star Suarez has always been notorious for his on-field antics, whether it is diving on the pitch or biting opposition players, it was this incident that brought him into limelight. During the 2010 World Cup game against Ghana, Suarez played the perfect Goal-keeper (Though he wasn’t one) when he tried to stop the ball from crossing over into the net through his hands, that too deliberately. Although Suarez was sent off for this action of his, Uruguay won the game on penalties.


9. Frank Lampard ‘ghost goal’: England vs Germany (2010 Round-of 16)
If Geoff Hurst’s debatable goal went England’s way, this one cost the three lions dearly and that too against the same opponents. After Germany led 2-0, England pulled one back through Matthew Upson and just when they celebrated an equalizer through Frank Lampard, the goal was disallowed saying that it had not crossed the line, though the replays clearly suggested otherwise. England never recovered from this and went on to lose the game 4-1.


10. Nigel De Jong ‘Karate Kick’: Spain vs Netherlands (2010 World Cup Final)
In what could be one of the rashest tackles in the game, Dutch mid-fielder Nigel de Jong smashed his studs into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso during the 2010 World Cup final, in what later came to be known as Nigel de Jong’s ‘Karate Kick.’ Although both were heading for the ball, de Jong’s studs were nowhere close to the same. Inspite of the harshness of the tackle, the referee Howard Webb handed de Jong only a Yellow Card. Spain went on to win the final 1-0 in extra time.

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