Ahead of Uruguay meeting with Ghana for the first time since that dramatic Luis Suarez handball 12 years ago, we’ve taken a look at the top five most controversial moments in the history of the World Cup.
With stakes so high on the grandest stage of them all, there’s always guaranteed controversy, with all teams doing anything in their power to win at the World Cup.
In no particular order….
Hand of God (1986)
It was impossible not to start with one of the most well known controversial incidents in the history of the game.
All the way back in 1986 in a World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England, none other than the great Diego Maradona made all the headlines after he appeared to handle the ball past an oncoming Peter Shilton to put Argentina 1-0 up.
Maradona was standing in an offside position at the time before England player Steve Hodge lobbed a ball back towards his own goal with the Argentine forward bearing down on goal, and knowing he wasn’t going to beat Peter Shilton in the air, he raised his fist to punch the ball beyond the England goalkeeper into the net, and wheeled off in celebration. Both the linesman and referee missed the punch, and the goal stood and the rest is history.
Ever since, it’s a goal that is still spoken about so much, and infuriates England fans still to this day, and it remains one of the most controversial moments if not the most in all of World Cup history.
Diego Maradona hand of godpic.twitter.com/EbE9Ps82wD
— Delta (@UTD_DELTA) November 19, 2022
Zidane Headbutt (2006)
Back in the 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France brought one of the most talked about incidents of all time, as Zinedine Zidane played out the last game of his career, looking for a fairy-tale ending.
The game got off to the perfect start for Zizou and Les Bleus when Zidane scored a panenka penalty on the sixth minute, and there it was written in the stars for France to lift the trophy.
However, their opener was quickly cancelled out as Italy equalised 12 minutes later through a Marco Materazzi goal, and then the match went the distance.
Then around 10 minutes from time in extra-time with the match heading to penalties, the two goalscorers on the day were involved in one of the most infamous moments in World Cup history.
An off-ball incident left Materazzi on the floor, and Zidane was shown a straight red card as TV cameras would then reveal that Zidane head-butted the Italian in the chest.
After all the hype ahead of it, Zidane’s career eventually ended in disgrace and a red card, with France also losing the shootout.
We're counting down to the World Cup with some of the best World Cup moments, Number 9 is the Zidane Headbutt! We'll be showing all the 2018 WC games on our big screens! @England #WorldCup2018 @InBath @BathSports @fcbrewhouse pic.twitter.com/td6mr3qCwe
— The Bath Brew House (@BathBrewHouse) June 5, 2018
Suarez Handball (2010)
Back in 2010, at the first-ever African World Cup Uruguay met Ghana in the quarter-finals of the competition. It would have been the perfect place for an African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final for the first time, and Ghana looked poised to do that on the 122nd minute of the tie.
With penalties looming, there was a goalmouth scramble in which Luis Suarez blocked a shot off the line legally at first, then the next header came in and again Suarez blocked the ball from going in, however, this time it was with his hand. The referee blew his whistle, pointed to the spot and handed Suarez a red card. All of Ghana thought this was their moment.
Ghana eventually missed the penalty which caused a huge celebration from Suarez on the touchline, sending the game to a penalty shoot-out, which Uruguay controversially won, putting them through to the last four of the competition.
Throwback to the biggest robbery in World Cup history pic.twitter.com/kK4QYamZ57
— 🏴🇦🇷 (@KieranCFC88) November 15, 2022
The two sides will famously meet on Friday in their last group game of this year’s World Cup, and Suarez has had his names in the headlines for a few days now…
Luis Suarez has no regrets over that handball incident vs. Ghana at the 2010 World Cup 😳 pic.twitter.com/YW13GPfE5t
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 1, 2022
Lampard’s Ghost Goal (2010)
Another controversial moment in the 2010 World Cup is next. It was arguably one of the moments that led to one of football’s biggest technological advances, and we couldn’t have left it out.
Goal-line technology was implemented a few years after this incident, in the aftermath of England’s last-16 tie with Germany. Frank Lampard took a long-range effort which cannoned in off the underside of the bar, and despite the efforts of Manuel Neuer, it appeared to have crossed the line. England players ran off in celebration, however the lineman and referee Jorge Larrionda both remained unmoved and play continued, with no goal for Lampard and England.
England ended up crashing out of the tournament with a 4-1 loss to the Germans.
At laaaaaaast…. pic.twitter.com/o2AQ1UeDBI
— Zak (@ZG1999_) December 1, 2022
South Korea’s Run To The Semi-Finals (2002)
2002 wasn’t the first time that officials had been accused of aiding a home nation in a World Cup, and this time it was South Korea who were in the spotlight with many accusing the officials of trying to help them get as far as they could in the tournament.
Knockout matches against Italy and Spain have come under scrutiny ever since, and even the then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter even coming out and admitting that the officiating at the tournament was a disaster.
In the game against Italy, Ecuadorian referee Bryon Moreno disallowed a perfectly legal goal, and also sent off Francesco Totti for an apparent dive, which wasn’t one. Meanwhile their game against Spain brought even more controversy, as the Spaniards had two goals chalked off without reason, and the linesman was flagging for offside at every opportunity.
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