We’re 11 days into the World Cup and it has no doubt been enthralling. However, like any other major sporting event, it has had its fair share of controversy. Namely, the coup led by the Argentinean players against their manager and the Swiss celebrations against Serbia. Let’s take a look at the 5 most controversial moments in the World Cup’s 88-year long history.
Maradona failing his drug test, 1994
After being banned from the Italian league for 15 months (he tested positive for cocaine), Maradona appeared to be on the road to recovery. In Argentina’s opening game against Greece, he scored one of the goals of the tournament. However, after Argentina’s second game, FIFA announced that he had tested positive for ephedrine, a banned substance and was subsequently banned from the remainder of the World Cup.
Geoff Hurst’s goal in the final, 1966
In the 101st minute of the World Cup final in England, Hurst broke the 2-2 deadlock between England and West Germany by scoring a “goal” that smacked the underside of the bar and seemingly went in. The referee was uncertain about the goal and consulted the linesman who after a few minutes of deliberation awarded England the goal. The status of the goal to this day remains a fierce topic of discussion amongst football fans.
“The hand of God,” 1986
In the semi-final encounter between England and Argentina in the 1986 world cup, Argentina’s hero appeared to head the ball in and claim the first goal of the match. It was later discovered that Maradona had punched the ball in. However, the goal stood and Argentina went on to win the match 2-1. Maradona later famously said that “the hand of god” had aided him in the scoring of the goal.
Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt, 2006
In the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy, what should have been a fitting end to Zidane’s glittering international career was instead overshadowed by an incident that resulted in him being shown a straight red card. In the second half of the match, with the score poised at 1-1, Zidane appeared to randomly headbutt Marco Materazzi, which resulted in him being sent off. It was later revealed that Materazzi had made some inflammatory comments about Zidane’s sister.
Andres Escobar’s own goal, 1994
In a 1994 encounter between the U.S. and Columbia, Escobar scored an own goal and gave the U.S a 1-0 lead. Columbia went on to lose the match and were subsequently knocked out in the group stage. Escobar’s mistake proved to be fatal. Upon his return to Columbia, he was shot dead on a night out. He was a victim of the lawlessness that had gripped Columbia. His death was mourned by millions of people around the world and his funeral amassed a crowd of a 120,000.This remains to this day the worst tragedy that has ever occurred as a direct consequence of the World Cup.
(The author is a student of The Shri Ram School Moulsari campus and played for Delhi Dynamos U-14, he is an avid football buff)