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From murder to match-fixing: top controversies in World Cup history

Think Luis Suarez flashing his pearly whites is bad? Crikey intern Rachel Clayton looks back at some of the mayhem on and off the pitch at previous World Cups.

Uruguayan star striker Luis Suarez is in hot water after he allegedly sunk his teeth into Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during their World Cup match. This is the third time Suarez has flashed his fangs during a match and could lead to him being banned from soccer for 24 months.

In light of this Crikey has come up with a list of the most controversial incidents in World Cup history.

1962: The Battle of Santiago

The 1962 Chile v Italy match was described by English sportscaster David Coleman as “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting an disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game”. The first foul was recorded within 12 seconds, and the police had to break up at least three fights throughout the game. In the 12th minute Giorgio Ferrini refused to walk off the field after being dismissed by the referee and had to be dragged off by police.

1982: Schumacher scandal

At the 1982 semi-final between West Germany and France, French player Patrick Battiston was knocked unconscious and lost three teeth after being on the field for five minutes. As German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher and Battiston both sped towards the ball from opposite directions, Schumacher made no attempt for the ball, instead knocking into Battiston’s head with his hip and arm. After Battiston was removed from the field reportedly needing a breathing machine, the referee ignored the foul and awarded Germany a goal kick. In 2005 the BBC dubbed the goal kick the worst referee decision of all time.

1982: The Pact of Gijon

During the final group game between West Germany and Austria, West Germany needed to win by one or two goals to secure both teams through to the next round. If West Germany won by more Austria would be out; if West Germany drew or Austria won, West Germany would be out. After West Germany scored a goal after the first 10 minutes, both teams pointlessly kicked the ball around for the rest of game. One commentator refused to commentate on the game and encouraged viewers to change the channel. This non-game led to final group matches being played simultaneously so it could not happen again.

1986 The ‘Hand of God’

On June 22 1986 during the 51st minute of the quarter final match between England and Argentina, Diego Maradona scored a goal with his left fist. The referee did not pick up the hand ball and awarded the goal, leading Argentina to win the match 2-1. At the post-game press conference Maradona commented that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”, after which the goal was named the “Hand of God’” England had to wait 22 years before Maradona apologised in 2008 for his infamous goal.

1994: Own goal leads to murder

At the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Colombia lost to the US 2-1 after Andres Escobar scored an own goal. Ten days after arriving back in Columbia he was shot dead. The killing heightened speculation that gangsters from the US or Colombia tried to fix the match. Colombian coach Francisco Maturana and several other players were rumored to have received death threats before the game. Escobar was shot 12 times by three men and according to witnesses one of the shooters said, “thanks for the own goal,” before driving off.

1994: Doped-up Diego

At the 1994 World Cup, 33-year-old Diego Maradona failed a test for five variants of ephedrine. This followed a 15-month suspension for cocaine use in 1991-92. He was banned from the rest of the 1994 tournament.

2010: England’s non-allowed goal

During the 2010 England v Germany match in South Africa, Frank Lampard scored a goal for England after the ball hit the underside of the bar and landed almost a yard across the goal line. But the goal was disallowed and England lost the game 4-1. If the goal had been awarded England would have drawn 2-2. The referee later said the ball was travelling too fast for him to see the goal.

2014: Qatari corruption

Controversy continues over the allegations that Qatar bought their votes for the 2022 World Cup. Qatar was seen as an unlikely winner of the vote due to its climate. Both the 2018 and 2022 votes were held simultaneously, leading to vote-swapping deals between countries. It was reported a Qatar official paid more than $5 million to secure support for the bid. The controversy continues, with the US rumoured to be the next in line if Qatar loses its 2022 bid.

2014: Suarez gets hungry

Luis Suarez says he was shouldered in the face, rather than initiating a bite. Click on the gif above and decide for yourself.

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  • 1
    TheFamousEccles
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Like the olympics, the world cup has lost any semblance of a sporting contest and is now (mostly, except for a few countries) contested by teams of overpaid, self absorbed, simpering ham actors who lost their souls long ago. Sadly, it is not likely to fade into obscurity any time soon, what with Qatar bribing it’s way to hosting, and piss-ant countries gleefully accepting any and every cent.

    As for Suarez, maybe he might die of syphilis or something in a reeking crack house? Karma has a way….

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