The 2022 World Cup has been shrouded in controversy as soon as Qatar was announced as the host, from weather issues forcing the tournament to be moved to Winter for the first time to human rights being widely played by media around the world.
However, the World Cup and controversy cannot be separated. Whether it takes place in Qatar or anywhere at all.
Here are the controversies that have been carved throughout the history of the World Cup.
HAND OF GOD (1986)
LOVE it or hate it, Diego Maradona lit up world football in the 1980s and 1990s. Involved in controversy every time he played, it reached its peak in Mexico 1986, where the world saw the best and worst of the Argentine superstar.
Argentina’s old foes, England, were their opponents in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Mexico City, just four years after the Falklands War between the two countries.
In the 51st minute, Maradona jumped up and challenged England goalkeeper Peter Shilton for a high ball. Knowing he was much shorter than Shilton, Maradona reached for the ball with his left hand and knocked it into the net. The goal was allowed and dubbed ‘The Hand of God’.
LE HEADBUTT (2006)
ZINEDINE Zidane dreamed of the perfect finish before retiring, and all seemed to be going well when France reached the final in Germany in 2006.
Even so, in the final match, when the position was tied 1-1 against Italy, the main planner of Les Bleus suddenly headbutted the opponent’s defender, Marco Materazzi, after a verbal war. He was shown a red card and Italy won 5-3 on penalties.
THE BATTLE OF SANTIAGO (1962)
THE Group 2 match between Italy and Chile in 1962 was arguably the most violent of all time, not just at the World Cup.
Tensions began to rise between the countries after two Italian journalists wrote a bad report about Chile’s capital, Santiago. The fiery response of the Chilean press made matters worse.
Just eight minutes into the match, Italian midfielder Giorgio Ferrini was shown a red card and the police had to escort him off the field because he refused to leave.
Soon after, Chile’s Leonel Sanchez punched Mario David but was not shown a red card, instead the Italian right-back was sent off minutes later for attempting to kick Sanchez in the head in retaliation.
Sanchez was again involved in a fight, this time he broke Humberto Maschio’s nose and stayed on the field. Fighting, spitting and the police were called three times to calm things down in a match that Italy eventually won, 2-0.
THE SCHUMACHER EVENT (1982)
IN THE 1982 semi-final in Spain, German goalkeeper Harald ‘Toni’ Schumacher and French defender Patrick Battiston raced towards Michel Platini’s long ball.
Battiston reaches the ball first but is knocked down by Schumacher, knocking him unconscious. He was given oxygen on the field, lost two teeth, cracked three ribs and a spine.
No action taken. Schumacher continued to play, Battiston was sent off and Germany eventually won on penalties to reach the final.
TO THIS DAY England’s third goal in the 1966 World Cup final is still talked about, whether it crossed the line or not.
West Germany’s equalizer in the 89th minute dragged the match into extra time. England went back in front in the 101st minute after Geoff Hurst’s shot hit the underside of the bar, bounced down and was cleared.
England players plead the ball has crossed the line and start celebrating. The Swiss referee did not consult with the Azerbaijani linesman, who awarded the goal.
England then won their first championship with a 4-2 win.
GIJON’S SHAMEFUL MOMENT (1982)
THE Group 2 MATCH in Gijon between West Germany and Austria in the 1982 World Cup changed the format of the competition forever.
After a shock 1-2 loss to Algeria in their group opener, West Germany needed to beat Austria or face elimination.
However, if Austria concedes three or more goals, Algeria will qualify for the next round. That’s when the conspiracy theories started.
After West Germany scored in the 10th minute through Horst Hrubesch, both teams were clearly not serious about the game. The result remained 1-0, West Germany and Austria advanced to the second round.
HANDS, TEETH SUAREZ (2010, 2014)
LUIS Suarez and controversy cannot be avoided.
In 2010, when Ghana was on the verge of becoming the first African country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, Dominic Adiyiah’s header almost hit Uruguay’s goal, but Suarez, who was standing on the line, saved the ball with his hand.
Suarez was shown a red card and Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take the penalty but the ball hit the crossbar. After the score remained 1-1 until the end of the game, Uruguay finally won the penalty shootout.
In 2014, Suarez was more ‘fierce’. He bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. He missed action but was later suspended for four months, which included nine internationals.
VICTORY IN DOUBT (1978)
Argentina’s 1978 World Cup win at home was marred by allegations of match-fixing and dirty tactics.
To reach the final, Argentina needs to beat strong Peru by at least 4-0. It looked impossible as Peru drew 0-0 with the Netherlands and beat Scotland and Iran.
Anyway, what happened, Argentina won 6-0. A few years later, a Peruvian senator claimed the match was arranged due to a trade agreement between the two countries.
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