As the most prestigious tournament in football, the World Cup has the power of bringing an entire country together in support of their national team who hold aspirations of lifting the famous trophy.
There can be no doubt that Brazil 2014 has so far delivered on all fronts, with the quality of attacking, end-to-end football in all but one or two games taking everyone by surprise as each of the 32 participants have immersed themselves in the carnival atmosphere and put on a wonderful show.
World Cup tournaments have a tendency to follow the general ethos of football that anything can happen, with numerous shock scorelines and underdogs prevailing against all odds making the headlines for all the right reasons.
There are, unfortunately, other moments which shock the world for all the wrong reasons and tarnish a tournament that is based upon the principles of fair play and respect.
Luis Suarez’s moment of madness against Italy in their decisive Group D fixture was a black mark on the 2014 World Cup, with the disgraced striker banned from football for 4 months after biting Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder. It joins a considerable list of shocking moments in the history of the World Cup that will remain long in the memory.
Top 5 Shocking World Cup Moments
Zinedine Zidane headbutt on Marco Materazzi
The 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin was meant to be the perfect stage for Zinedine Zidane to crown an illustrious career by becoming a winner for the second time in his career. The France international will go down as one of the greatest midfielders to ever grace the game, but the manner in which his final match ended took the whole world by shock.
A cagey match against Italy looked set to go to penalties with the score at 1-1 in extra time, until Marco Materazzi went down clutching his chest in an off-the-ball incident. Although it was not originally seen on live television, replays revealed the shocking truth for the whole world to see – Zidane had an altercation with the Italian centre-back before walking up to him and headbutting Materazzi square in the chest.
Zidane received a straight red card and trudged off the pitch past the World Cup trophy in an iconic moment that saw his career end in disgrace.
Maradona lit up the 1986 World Cup with a wonderful array of skills that made the Argentina star one of the greatest player in football history, although he took the law into his own hands with a moment of World Cup controversy which is more remembered than any of his goals or mazy runs.
In a fierce quarter-final game again their arch enemy England, Argentina needed their main man to produce the goods. Maradona duly delivered with two goals which could not have been more contrasting in type; while his second goal is ranked as one of the best in World Cup history, the first will always be remembered as the ‘Hand of God’.
Some quick one-two passes on the edge of England’s box resulted in a ball being sliced up in the air by a defender towards Peter Shilton. Maradona challenged Shilton in the air and blatantly used his arm to beat the goalkeeper and put the ball in the back of the net.
With no remorse for his actions, Maradona wheeled away in delight having got away with an incident that condemned the mercurial star as a cheat.
The battle of South Africa
The meeting between Spain and Holland in the 2010 World Cup Final promised to be a wonderful affair between two nations who define eye-catching styles of football. Spain’s ‘tiki-taka’ football came up against the ‘total’ football played by the Dutch, who have remained true to a style adopted during the 1970s.
What took place in Johannesburg was not a wonderful display of fluid, end-to-end football but a brutal match littered with horrendous tackles and the most cards issued in Finals history. Howard Webb endured a torrid night, with 14 yellow cards and a red card issued as Holland set about unsettling Spain with a series of crunching tackles that bordered on being dangerous.
The worst of the lot was Nigel De Jong’s studs-up kick into the chest of Xabi Alonso which went unpunished without a card.
Cristiano Ronaldo wink
The quarter-final tie between England and Portugal at South Korea/Japan 2002 was always likely to be a showdown between Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo who, at the time, were team-mates at Manchester United.
Rooney went into the tournament as a hugely talented 20-year-old who had a reputation for being hot-headed – a factor which Portugal played upon. The England star got involved with a tangle for the ball with Ricardo Carvalho, with Rooney reacting by stamping on Carvalho’s groin area while he lay on the ground. Ronaldo ran over to the referee to protest and ask for a red card to be brandished, which the referee duly obliged.
As Rooney walked off the pitch, television cameras showed Ronaldo winking towards the touchline to indicate he had played a part in the red card, and that Portugal had targeted Rooney’s temperament to gain an advantage.
Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard
Games between Germany and Holland often serve up a classic, with an underlying rivalry between the two creating wonderful matches, but their meeting at Italy 1990 went a step too far.
A titanic battle between the two European giants saw an unsavoury flashpoint between Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard who, in the space of two minutes, got themselves sent off. An awful tackle by Rijkaard on Voller sparked a war of words between the pair which escalated into incidents which do not belong on a football pitch.
Rijkaard clearly spat at Voller as he walked past following the foul, which clearly infuriated the Germany star. After a foul was given against Voller for a challenge on the keeper from the resulting free-kick, the pair squared up again and received a straight red card.
While the referee was not looking, Rijkaard spat in Voller’s hair again to add further insult to a truly shocking World Cup moment.
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