Most controversial moments in the FIFA World Cup

The history of the World Cup suggests there have been iconic moments, some consider them great moments that football fans from every corner of the globe cherish and remember forever. 

From incredible skills to incredible goals scored to outstanding saves, the World Cup has given us many fond memories, however, there are moments that have made headlines for the wrong reasons, in the biggest sporting festival's incredible history.

Let's have a look at the 5 biggest controversial moments in the FIFA World Cup history

Battle of Nuremberg: Portugal vs Netherlands (2006)

Battle of Nuremberg: Portugal vs Netherlands (2006)
Credits: BeSoccer

The 2006 FIFA World Cup gave many memorable moments, from good to worst. In a stage like the World Cup, sometimes play gets heated more than usual, however, in the Round of 16, Portugal vs Netherlands got out of control. 

The match referee on the pitch Valentin Ivanov had no control right from the start, as very early into the game Marco Van Bommel got booked in the second minute, however, the tumultuous situation took place when Portuguese legend Luis Figo only got a Yellow Card for a headbutt (which is an automatic red card under FIFA rules) leading unrest atmosphere in the stadium. 

The match made its name in FIFA's record books, for its record of four red cards, and 16 yellow cards. Portugal wound up, with a narrow 1-0 win on a goal from Maniche. Later, then FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticized referee Ivanov, stating, Ivanov "should have given himself a yellow card for his poor performance during the match."

South Korea and the Officials in the 2002 World Cup

South Korea and the Officials in the 2002 World Cup
Credits: PlanetFootball

In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the host nation South Korea benefitted from several decisions that were incredibly controversial. The Asian giants saw an incredible run in the tournament, as they reached the semis of the prestigious tournament. However, their incredible feat in the World cup got overshadowed by the referee controversies. 

In the round of 16 against Italy, referee Byron Moreno of Ecuador disallowed a goal and sent off Francesco Totti for diving. South Korea won 2-1 on a golden goal from Ahn Jung-Hwan.

Then in the next round against Spain in the Quarterfinals, Egyptian referee Gamal Al-Ghandour disallowed two legal Spanish goals and the Spanish side were deemed to be offside almost constantly by the linesman. South Korea won 5-3 on penalties to get into the semi-finals.

Later, both the referees were forced to retire soon after the conclusion of the tournament due to match-fixing and being bribed to help South Korea advance.

1978 World Cup, Argentina

1978 World Cup, Argentina

The 1978 FIFA World Cup was held in Argentina, and the tournament produced many controversial moments as the host won their first World Cup title. It is believed the tournament was fixed as then Argentina's military dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla probably played a huge part. 

The controversy started with the final match of Group B (which was in the Second Round). In that final match, Argentina had to beat Peru by at least four goals to get into the final over arch-rival Brazil. And Argentina won 6-0 in a match widely recognized to have been fixed, as they were able to knock six goals in past Peru's keeper Ramón Quiroga (who was born in Argentina) to get Argentina into the World Cup final.

Then in the final against the Dutch, the men from the Netherlands were forced to take an extra long route to the Estadio Monumental, and took to the field ten minutes before the Argentinian side, meaning they had to face the hostility of 70,000 who were screaming at them for ten minutes.

Later, the hosts emerged 3-1 winners in one of the most controversial tournaments ever.

Italy's fascism, in France vs Italy in 1938

Italy's fascism, in France vs Italy in 1938
Credits: TheGuardian

In the final World Cup before World War II, Italy (who were the defending World Cup Champions) were in the middle of their incredible run towards a second World Cup title when an unforgettable moment struck. During a quarter-final match against host nation France, Italy were forced to wear a white kit because France wore blue and they were the tournament hosts that year.

However, on Benito Mussolini's orders, Italy's players came out in an all-black kit, a symbol of the hated Italian fascist paramilitary. Moreover, the Italians also did their fascist salute before beating France 3-1 and they also held the World Cup for the next 12 years.

Hand of God, 1986 FIFA World Cup, Mexico

Hand of God, 1986 FIFA World Cup, Mexico

Arguably the most controversial moment not just in the history of the tournament but also in the sport's history. Argentina's great Diego Maradona had a major impact on World Cup history, however, his Hand of God was the most memorable moment in the long rich football's history. 

Maradona's obvious handball to lift the ball over England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, to put Argentina 1-0 up in the quarter-final. However, the referee surprisingly let the goal stand, the whole English team and the majority of the stadium knew the Argentinian handled the ball. A truly an incredible moment of cheating by the legend. 

Later, the South American side went on to lift the Cup, as Argentina won their second World Cup in another controversial fashion.

Cover Credits: ESPNofficial

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