It’s fair to say that staging the World Cup in Russia could have gone spectacularly wrong for FIFA, especially as the build up to the tournament was dominated by stories surrounding politics, racism, hooliganism, sexism and homophobia.
We’re are not saying Russia isn’t plagued by all of these things, but from a football perspective they delivered a wonderful World Cup, which will live long in the memory for many of us.
Here, we take a look at some of the more bizarre, funny and brilliant moments of the tournament.
Nikola Kalinic sent home
Croatia certainly enjoyed a remarkable World Cup, reaching their first ever final. But early in the tournament all did not seem well in the camp, as AC Milan forward, Nikola Kalinic, was sent home by head coach Zlatko Dalic after refusing to come on as a second-half substitute during their 2-0 defeat against Nigeria. Kalinic told his manager at half-time that he could not play because of a bad back, which didn’t go down too well. It was Kalinic’s fourth start for Croatia on the bench, so there was little love lost between the two.
A Peru fan put on weight to try to get a ticket…
With visa restrictions lifted on travel between South America and Russia, fans from Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina descended on the tournament in their masses. However, one Peru supporter went to an extraordinary length in the hope of watching his country play in their first World Cup for 36 years. It is reported that one fan was so worried that he wouldn’t get a ticket for a Peru match he decided to put on 24kg so that he could apply for one of the special (easy-access extra-width) seats, which are much easier to get. It is unclear whether his plan worked or not.
Sergio Ramos crying
It’s never easy to see a grown man crying, unless that man is Sergio Ramos. When the Spanish captain was filmed in floods of tears following a penalty shoot-out loss to the host nation Russia, there was little sympathy for the Real Madrid defender, instead quite a lot of cheers and laughs. Liverpool fans, who hold Ramos responsible for Mohamed Salah’s injury in the Champions League final, were quick to stick the boot into the Spaniard on Twitter.
Did Mexico fans actually cause an earthquake?
The first major upset of an extraordinary World Cup happened when Mexico defeated defending champions Germany 1-0 in both teams opening game. However, when Hirving Lozano scored the decisive goal, seismologists took to Twitter to report that a 4.3 magnitude earthquake had been detected just after Lozano’s goal. Coincidence or fan power?
Japanese and Senegalese fans clean up after themselves
After Japan’s excellent 2-1 defeat of Colombia in their opening game, their fans kept up a reputation of politeness by staying to help clean up the Mordovia Arena. And if you thought it was because they won – they did the same after their last gasp defeat to Belgium too. Even the players stayed to clean their dressing room! It seemed to start a trend, as Senegal fans cleaned up after themselves following their win over Poland!
The world’s worst throw in
With Iran losing 1-0 to Spain with 20 seconds of injury time remaining, and on the brink of being knocked out of the tournament, Milad Mohammadi decides it’s time to try a somersault throw-in in to the box. It was pathetic and was one of those moments you had to press rewind on the Sky remote to make sure it actually happened. Iran lost 1-0…
Batshuayi takes one in the face
Delighted that Belgium had taken the lead against England in their group game, Michy Batshuayi collected the ball with the aim of emphatically smashing it back into the net in celebration – however, he missed, hit the post and we all watched on with hilarity as the ball rebounded into his own face.
Germany knocked out
Defending champions and knocked out following a 2-0 defeat to South Korea to leave them bottom of their group – priceless.