Biggest World Cup Controversies

1934 World Cup – Italy vs Everybody

Italy became the first European nation to win the World Cup when it claimed the tournament on their home soil in 1934, but their historic win was tarnished by allegations that Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini had a significant influence on the tournament.

Mussolini personally assigned referees to each of Italy’s matches and Swedish referee was said to have had dinner with Mussolini before Italy’s semifinal clash with Austria that they won 1-0 thanks to a number of questionable refereeing decisions. Italy then went on to defeated Czechoslovakia in the final.

This was the only World Cup that was soured by the antics of Mussolini; with the dictator ordering Italy to wear black shirts in support of his fascist regime during their quarter final clash with France at the World Cup in 1938.

1962 World Cup – Italy vs Chile

The clash between Italy and Chile at the 1962 Soccer World Cup has gone down in history as one of the most violent matches in the history of the event and has since been dubbed the Battle Of Santiago.

The violence witnessed during the match shocked fans watching live as well as television audiences all over the world and led to the referee in charge of the game, Englishmen Ken Aston, to invent the yellow and red cards that are commonly used in football today.

The Italians had two players sent on during the match for violent conduct and police were forced to intervene in the match of several occasions as players punched, wrestled and spat on each other throughout the contest. Chile ended up winning the game two goals to zero.

1966 World Cup – England vs Germany

England claimed their only World Cup triumph on home soil in 1966, but there are still Germans who believe that the English should never have won their only World Cup final. The final of the tournament was forced into extra-time with England and Germany tied on two goals apiece and eleven minutes into the stoppage period England were awarded a controversial goal, despite claims that the ball had not crossed the line after hitting the crossbar.

Video evidence has never given a conclusive answer as to whether the goal should have been awarded and Soviet linesman Tofik Bakhramov has been accused of awarding the goal to England to avenge the atrocities that were committed against his countrymen by Germany in World War 2.

Germany received a level of revenge during the 2010 World Cup when England had a clear goal disallowed during their second round clash and ended up losing the match four goals to one.

1978 World Cup – Argentina vs Peru

Argentina won the 1978 World Cup on their home soil, but there has been a great deal of speculation that the Argentinean government played a key role in getting their desired result.

Argentina needed to beat Peru by four goals to qualify for the final in place of Brazil and Argentinian dictator General Videla made a visit to Peru’s dressing shed before the game and when the game started the Peru side produced a lackluster performance and were convincingly beaten by Argentina, who then went on to defeat the Netherlands in the final.

It has been reported that the Peruvian government received 35,000 tonnes of grain and a line of credit from Argentina in exchange for throwing the game and Brazilians still claim they were robbed of a chance at World Cup glory.

1982 World Cup – West Germany vs Austria

After Algeria stunned West Germany in their opening game of the 1982 Soccer World Cup, the African nation was an excellent chance of progressing to the second, but collusion between West Germany and Austria ended their chance of making World Cup history.

Going into the final game of the pool stage, West Germany and Austria would both make it through to the second round of the tournament if Germany scored a 1-0 win and it has been alleged that the European allies colluded to insure that was the outcome of the game.

Austria conceded an early goal and looked as though they had no interest of chasing an equalized and the game generated into a farce. Collusion between the sides has never been proven, but the rules were changes so that the final two games in each pool are now played at the same time in order to rule out collusion.

1982 World Cup – West Germany vs France

Controversy seemed to follow West Germany during the 1982 World Cup and their thrilling semifinal clash with France was marred by one of the most horrific challenges in World Cup history.

At the end of regular time, with the game locked at one goal apiece, Frenchmen Patrick Battiston had the opportunity to win the game for his side, but was knocked unconscious, lost teeth and suffered a broken back after a vicious challenge by German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher.

Amazingly, a free kick was not even award for the challenge that should have seen Schumacher sent for the field and he helped his side through to the final after saving two penalties in the penalty shootout between the two sides.

1986 World Cup – Argentina vs England

The 1986 World Cup was dominated by Argentinian maestro Diego Maradona and his performance against England in the quarter finals of the tournament has gone down in history for a number of reasons.

Neither side were able to break the deadlock in the first half, but early in the second half Maradona looked to have out jumped English goalkeeper Peter Shilton to head in the opening goal of the game. However, it quickly became clear that Maradona had used his hand to score the goal, but referee Ali Bin Basser awarded a goal and the play commonly known as ‘The Hand Of God’ went into World Cup folklore.

Just four minutes later Maradona scored what is widely considered the greatest individual goal in the history of the World Cup to send Argentina through to the semifinal, but English fans still believe that they were cheated out of a potential World Cup victory by the sneaky Argentine.

2002 World Cup – South Korea vs Italy

South Korea made a fairytale run to the semi-final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in front of their home fans, but they had plenty of assistance was the referees and linesmen in their second round victory over Italy.

Referee Byron Morneo disallowed a legal Italian goal that would have sent them through to the quarterfinals and sent off Italian superstar Francesco Totti for an alleged dive in the second half. A number of other questionable calls went in favour of the South Koreans and they advanced with a golden goal victory.

Spainish fans were soon as outraged as their Italian counterparts when they too were the victims of some controversial refereeing that saw South Korea defeat their side in the quarter final.

2006 World Cup – Croatia vs Australia

Australia were the victim of a number of controversial decisions during the 2006 World Cup, but none more so than the shocking referring performance of Graeme Poll in their final pool game against Croatia.

Poll knocked back Australia’s claims for two clear penalties during the game, but the referees greatest embarrassment came when he awarded Croatian defender Josip Simunic a second yellow card, but failed to send him from the field. Poll eventually awarded the Croatian a third yellow card and sent him from the field three minutes later as the game ended in confusion; with Australian denied what looked like a legal goal on the final whistle.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted that Poll had made a serious outcome and the referee was sent home from the tournament, while Blatter admitted that had Australia lost the game they would have had grounds to request a replay.

2006 World Cup – France vs Italy

Zinedine Zidane was the star player of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but his stellar performance at the tournament was overshadowed by his actions in extra-time of the 2006 World Cup final with Italy.

Zidane led France to a surprise finals appearance and he sent France to the lead with a cheeky penalty, but Italy took the game to extra-time after Marco Materazzii equalized in the 19th minute.  During the second period of extra-time Materazzi and Zidane were seen exchanging words, after the Italian grabbed Zidane’s jersey, before the Frenchmen headbutted his rival and was immediately sent from the field.

In the absence of Zidane, France went on to lose the game in a penalty shootout to Italy and Zidane announced his retirement after the game. Materazzi admitted after the final that he had verbally provoked Zidane by insulting his sister.