The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world and therefore it should come as no surprise that the tournament has over its history seen more than its fair share of great moments, but also some of the biggest controversies in the sporting world.
The World Cup is seen as the ultimate showcase of player skills and true legends of the game often make their mark at the tournament.
This can often lead to pressure and in the heat of the moment, even the best of the best sometimes suffer from brain fade.
Briefly.co.za looks at five of the most controversial moments in the history of the tournament.
1. Maradona’s Hand of God – 1986
The 1986 quarter-final match between Argentina and England will be remembered for giving the world two of the most talked about goals of all time.
One was labelled the goal of the century, while the other more controversial one is still known as ‘The Hand of God’.
Goal.com reported that match officials missed the moment when Maradona used his fist to punch the ball past the English goalkeeper. To his credit, Maradona admitted to the handball after the match.
2. Zidane’s head-butt – 2006
Zinedine Zidane will be forever remembered for ending his international playing career by being sent off in the final of the 2006 World Cup after head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi.
The French star was set to retire on a high, he was named player of the tournament before the match and his side came desperately close to winning the tournament.
Materazzi later admitted to insulting Zidane’s sister and apologised for the incident.
3. Geoff Hurst’s goal in the final of 1966 – 1966
The phantom goal as it has become known was scored by England’s Geoff Hurst in extra time of the 1966 final against Germany.
The goal was awarded after the referee consulted with linesman Tofiq Bahramov. No one else on the field really believed the entire ball had crossed the goal line, this theory is supported by computer simulations.
Regardless the goal stood and England lifted their one and only World Cup.
4. Suarez’s own hand of god moment – 2010
Depending on who you speak to Luis Suarez will be remembered as a villain or a self-sacrificing hero for his super save against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final.
Suarez slapped the ball away at the last second to deny Ghana the chance to proceed to the semi-finals. He was sent off for the obvious foul and Ghana received a penalty, but they could not convert.
The incident cemented his reputation of being controversial. Suarez himself played up to this role and said it was the save of the tournament and his own hand of god moment.
5. Terrible refereeing throughout the 2002 tournament – 2002
The 2002 tournament in Korea and Japan will be remembered for the terrible standard of refereeing and accusations of officials being biased.
Signs of favouritism towards South Korea emerged in their win over Portugal that saw them take top spot in the group stages. This trend continued throughout the rest of the tournament and marred the quarter-final.
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