The FIFA World Cup always delivers huge storylines but also controversy and this tournament has been no different. Before a ball was even kicked, Spain coach, Julen Lopetegui, was sacked a day before the competition had started for accepting the Head Coaches job at Real Madrid.
It was seen as a “betrayal” by the Spanish Football Federation, with Spanish FA president, Luis Rubiales, furious that he had only been informed that Lopetegui had taken the Madrid job five minutes before it was announced to the world.
A huge shadow has now been cast over Spain’s chances, despite them being considered big favourites to win the competition. But Rubiales was right to take the action he did.
With that story fresh in the mind, we take a look at some other controversy’s that have happened at the World Cup over the years.
Andres Escobar shot dead
One of the worst controversies ever to happen in football, the event didn’t happen at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, but the incident was a direct result of the competition.
Andres Escobar played for Colombia and in the group stages they found themselves facing the hosts. Escobar scored an own goal due to a mistimed tackle and the Colombians went on to lose the game 2-1. That result meant they were knocked out of the competition.
Escobar returned to his home country but was gunned down a few days later in an act that was described as revenge for his error in the World Cup.
Diego Maradona’s hand of god
Considered in England as the most controversial goal of all time, the 1986 World Cup will forever be remembered for the quarter final between Argentina and England. The game was level at half-time, but soon after the restart, Maradona scored a goal that would change history for both sides.
Maradona punched the ball past the advancing English goalkeeper Peter Shilton as both players challenged for a ball in the air. Everyone saw the handball except the referee and linesmen who allowed it to stand. In an interview after the game, Maradona claimed to have used his head to score, with a little help from the hand of God.
Argentina went on to win the game 2-1 and eventually claim the World Cup that year.
Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt
France faced Italy in the 2006 World Cup final, inspired along the way by brilliant performances from their talisman Zinedine Zidane who went on to win the Golden Boot. Zidane had given the French an early lead from the penalty spot before Italy soon equalised.
The game ended up going to extra-time when Zidane, playing his last game for France, unleashed a brutal headbutt to the chest of Italy’s Marco Materazzi to receive a straight red card. It was later revealed that Materazzi had made a remark about Zidane’s sister.
The game ended up going to penalties and Italy won 5-3.
Ronaldo and the 1998 final
Brazil were trying to defend their crown against host nation France in the 1998 final in Paris. Ahead of the game the starting teams were handed in to officials but with one glaring omission from the Brazilian squad, Ronaldo.
The forward was the star of the tournament and nobody could understand why his name was not on the list. There was even more confusion when a new list was given out with Ronaldo included in the line-up.
Ronaldo went on to have a poor game and France won 3-0. Eventually the news was revealed that the Brazilian had suffered a type of seizure before the game, which had led to him being pulled out of the starting XI. It was then suggested that Nike had put so much pressure on Brazil to play him due to sponsorship rights, that they were forced to do so despite concerns over his health.
There will likely be more controversies from this World Cup to add to the list.