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Top 10 Insane World Cup Moments

VO: Adrian Sousa
Script written by Adrian Sousa The beautiful game can get a little ugly. From facial injuries, to non-goals, to spitting, these moments are pretty shocking. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Insane World Cup Moments .
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Script written by Adrian Sousa

Top 10 Insane World Cup Moments


The beautiful game can get a little ugly. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, we’re counting down the top 10 most insane World Cup moments.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most controversial calls and unsporting moments from previous FIFA World Cup tournaments. Single moments from a match, entire matches themselves or ongoing narratives from throughout a given tournament will all be considered.

#10: Lampard’s Goal Not Given vs. Germany

World Cup 2010

England fans: this could yet sting a bit. Though the Germans took a 2 - 0 lead in the first 32 minutes of The Three Lions’ World Cup 2010 round of 16 matchup with Die Mannschaft, Matthew Upson clawed one back in the 37th. On the stroke of halftime, Frank Lampard’s long-range screamer crashed off the crossbar and landed in the net, about two to three feet past the goal line. Neither the linesman nor the referee believed that the ball was in, thus robbing England of what could have been a game-changing moment. Although they ended up losing, Lampard takes solace in the fact that this moment changed football forever, and goal-line technology was introduced to the tournament at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

#9: Rivaldo’s “Facial” Injury

World Cup 2002

The Champions from the 2002 World Cup, Brazil had one of the most naturally gifted teams of all time, with the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Denilson and more among their ranks. In the case of one Rivaldo, however, he’s not the most convincing actor. In Brazil’s group stage match against Turkey, leading 2 - 1 in second-half stoppage time, Rivaldo was going about taking a corner kick for the Seleção a little too leisurely. To expedite the process, Turkish player Hakan Ünsal kicked the ball at Rivaldo, clearly hitting him in the leg. Rivaldo went down clutching his face in agony, Ünsal was given his marching orders, and later, upon reviewing tape of the incident, Rivaldo was handed a fine from FIFA for conning the referee.

#8: The Battle of Nuremberg

World Cup 2006

No, we’re not talking about the events from Germany in 1945, but from 2006. Portugal and Holland can officially say that they took part in the dirtiest game in World Cup history. The tone was set early when Dutch grinder Mark Van Bommel received a yellow in the 2nd minute for a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo. Then, Ronaldo was targeted again in the 7th from Khalid Boulahrouz. From there, a flurry of cards flew from referee Valentin Ivanov’s pocket, as the Russian handed out a total of 16 yellows, and sent off 4 players, a record for cards shown in a FIFA international tournament. On average, players were getting booked every 5-and-a-half minutes.

#7: A Little Help for the Hosts

World Cup 2002

The 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan was considered one of the most controversial tournaments due to some suspect refereeing in favor of the co-hosts, South Korea. First, South Korea eliminated Italy after referee Byron Moreno first disallowed a perfectly legal goal for Italy, and then sending off their star Francesco Totti for what he deemed to be a dive. Then, in the next round, Korea eliminated Spain thanks in part to two perfectly legal Spanish goals being disallowed by referee Gamal Al-Ghandour. Moreno, who officiated the Italy match, was banned after a year for crooked refereeing, while Al-Ghandour retired shortly after the tournament, once he was accused of accepting bribes.

#6: Spit-Gate

World Cup 1990

There’s a lot to cover here, so stick with us. West Germany and the Netherlands faced off in the World Cup 1990 round of 16, with the great German goalscorer Rudi Völler in their ranks. Völler was fouled by the tough-tackling Frank Rijkaard, who was booked for the incident. As Völler was setting himself for the ensuing free-kick, Rijkaard spat in Völler’s hair. Völler complained to the referee and was given a yellow for complaining. In trying to avoid a collision with German keeper Hans van Breukelen, the Dutch players thought Völler dived. Thus, Rijkaard grabbed Völler by the ear and stamped on his foot. The referee sent both players off, and Rijkaard spat on Völler once again on the way to the locker rooms. Classy.

#5: The Sheikh Says

World Cup 1982

France had a fantastic attacking team during the 1982 World Cup in Spain. But Kuwaiti Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah had an idea as to how to stop them during their group stage matchup. The, shall we say, “charismatic” Sheikh pulled his Kuwait team off of the pitch because he claimed France scored a goal that shouldn't have stood, citing whistles from the crowd confusing his nation's team. He stormed onto the pitch, and a ruckus ensued. Believe it or not, the referee succumbed to the pressure from the Sheikh and disallowed the goal, though France still went on to win 4 - 1. This moment remains the first and so far only time a member of the crowd contributed to the disallowing a goal.

#4: Uruguayan Handball

World Cup 2010

In the two World Cup tournaments Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez has featured in, he has provided us with some memorable moments. Of course, in the 2014 edition of the World Cup, Suárez took a bite out of his opponent Giorgio Chiellini. However, we’re going with his antics from the 2010 World Cup, which some deemed to have been one of the most unsporting moments in tournament history. With Uruguay and Ghana tied 1 - 1 in the last minute of extra time in their quarter-final matchup, Suárez used his hands to save what would have been the winner for Ghana, thus receiving a red card. Ghana failed to convert the ensuing penalty, and lost the shoot-out as well, vindicating Suárez’s decision. Well, in his eyes.

#3: The Hand of God

World Cup 1986

Diego Maradona was far and away the best player in world football at the time of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. But, he needed a hand in order to drag his Argentinian team past England in the quarterfinals. Before he went on to score what some call the goal of the century to make it 2 - 1 for Argentina, Maradona scored perhaps the most controversial goal of the century. Jumping to compete for a cross with English keeper Peter Shilton, Maradona used his hand to divert the ball into the goal. Both the referee and linesman failed to see the illegality of his maneuver, and the goal stood. After the match, Maradona told reporters that he was helped by the hand of God.

#2: Zizou Goes Out with a Bang

World Cup 2006

Going into the World Cup 2006, football fans knew that the tournament would be the last that they would ever see of the silky French maestro, Zinedine Zidane. One of the greatest players to grace the game, Zidane led France to the World Cup finals, which was the second of his career, and the final match he would ever take part in. In a moment of madness that will never be forgotten, Zidane headbutt Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest, receiving a red card in the 110th minute of extra time, thus putting an early end to his career. France went on to lose the final in a penalty shootout, leaving French fans wondering what could have been if Zizou kept his head.

#1: A Coma-Inducing Collision

World Cup 1982

The 1982 World Cup was an interesting tournament for the French. After slipping out of the group stages, they found themselves face to face with West Germany in the semi-finals. In a close match that eventually ended 3 - 3, French defender Patrick Battiston was brought onto the pitch as a substitute. After just ten minutes, he found himself one on one with German keeper Harald Schumacher. Schumacher made no attempt at playing the ball, choosing instead to jump hip-first into Battiston’s head. A goal kick was awarded, and for his efforts, Battiston lost 3 teeth, damaged a few vertebrae, needed oxygen on the pitch, and went straight to the hospital. Platini claims he thought Battiston was dead, as he was pale and had no pulse. Later that day, Battiston slipped into a coma. Thankfully, Battiston ended up making a full recovery.
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