Each edition of the World Cup brings with it innumerable conflicts, emotions, sorrows, and joys. Controversial situations happen often because everyone wants to be crowned the champions.
Errors in refereeing, nervous tension in players, pressure from fans, and many other factors come together in each game to create circumstances that lead to victory or defeat. The race to reach the final is full of good and bad decisions, which leaves an indelible mark in the minds of all those who are passionate about football.
Here is a list of the 10 biggest controversies in World Cup history.
1. ENGLAND vs. WESTERN GERMANY (1966)
After 90 minutes, the score was 2-2, but in extra time striker Hurst scored the goal that gave England the advantage. Although the ball never crossed the goal line, the referee validated it and gave the host a victory over the Germans.
2. WESTERN GERMANY vs. HUNGARY (1954)
Down 0-2 after eight minutes, West Germany needed just another 12 minutes to tie the score at 2-2. Late in the second half, “die Mannschaft” went ahead, but with three minutes remaining, it appeared that Hungary’s Puskas had scored, only for the referee to annul the tying goal.
3. ARGENTINA vs. PERU (1978)
The hosts from Argentina defeated Peru with a score of 6-0, which put them ahead of Brazil on goal difference. Immediately, rumors were created that the score had been agreed upon before the game.
4. ARGENTINA vs ENGLAND (1986)
Maradona’s famous goal was dubbed “The Hand of God” after he repelled the attack of English players and scored with his left hand. Leaving England in shock, four minutes later he scored the goal of the century. Argentina then beat Belgium and Germany to claim the Cup, while Maradona was chosen as the most valuable player.
5. SPAIN vs. ITALY (1994)
Mauro Tassotti elbow-checked Luis Enrique in the penalty area, but the referee didn’t penalize Italy, which went on to win 2-1 and advance all the way to the final.
6/7. SOUTH KOREA vs. ITALY, then SPAIN (2002)
The Korean team caused controversies in both games. Against Italy, they were constant aggressors, and against Spain, the decisions of the referees clearly favored the host team as they canceled the goals of Moriente, Mendieta, and Joaquin.
8. BRAZIL vs. BELGIUM (2002)
Early in the match, Marc Wilmots scored a clean goal that was disallowed by the referee. Brazil won the game and the tournament.
9. ITALY vs. FRANCE (2006)
The highlight of this final was Zidane headbutting Materazzi, which earned him a red card, and the French team wasn’t able to recover.
10. URUGUAY vs. GHANA (2010)
The score was 1-1 with almost no time left in the game, when Luis Suarez handled the ball at the goal line. He was sent off, Ghana was awarded a penalty, but Gyan missed. Uruguay won the ensuing penalty shootout.