Top 10 Most Controversial and Unsportsmanlike Incidents in the World Cup History

Tags: #WorldCup ,   #Football ,   #Soccer ,   #FIFAWorldCup ,   #footballislife

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2022-11-30 18:00:09

The World Cups gave us some of the most memorable moments, including gorgeous goals, massive surprises, and even some myths. However, there have also been negative aspects, with some people and teams becoming overzealous in pursuing success. As a result, we created this top ten list of bloodiest events in FIFA World Cup history. Selections were based on the relative weights of physical harm intended, damage caused, and recklessness.

10. Jose Batista on Gordon Strachan, 1986

The fastest red card in the history of the FIFA World Cup matches

The awful tussles began flying in as soon as Uruguay faced Scotland in the 1986 World Cup group stage. In fact, within the first minute, Jose Batista made a terrifying tackle on Gordon Strachan. After roughly 37 seconds of dull, uninteresting football, Strachan touched a throw-in, and Batista pounced on him with both feet from the side. 

Furthermore, the ball had already left their possession when the players made contact. Batista caught Strachan high on the ankle, so referee Joel Quiniou did not hesitate to dismiss Batista. The player still maintains his innocence, saying that "the referee overreacted." 

9. Nigel de Jong versus Xabi Alonso, 2010

The tackle that is more appropriate to a combat sport

The 2010 World Cup final saw Nigel de Jong live up to his reputation as a tough-minded and frequently rash player. De Jong and Alonso engaged in a spirited, physical battle for a ball in the air with just under 28 minutes remaining in the match. The Dutchman launched with his leg and caught Alonso square in the chest with his studs, while the Spaniard led with his head and won the ball.

To be fair, the collision appeared to be accidental, and his eyes were constantly on the ball. That may have prevented him from receiving a red card, so he only received a yellow one. Still, the challenge was careless, giving rise to the verb "De Jong."

8. Joao Pinto on Park Ji-Sung, 2002

The brutal assault was to no avail, as the Korean team won

The 2002 World Cup saw several questionable decisions favoring the co-hosts. Still, Angel Sanchez's decision to fire Pinto was not one of them. Portugal was in dire need of a victory over South Korea going into the 2002 World Cup group stage's final game to advance.

Early on, the Portuguese midfielder made a careless challenge and took the lead with both legs. Park secured the ball and made a turn as Pinto leaped into the air. Before landing on Park's foot, Pinto scissored Park's leg and struck him in the back of the knee. The fact that Park did not suffer a knee or ankle injury was miraculous. He would ultimately have the last laugh by scoring the game's lone goal in the 70th minute to seal South Korea's victory in Group D and eliminate the Portuguese.

7. João Morais on Pelé, 1966

If you don't succeed at first, foul Pele the second time

During the 1966 World Cup, Pele was 25 years old and in his prime. Thus, the opponent's strategy was to take all reasonable steps to remove him from the game. So, when Portugal faced Brazil, Joao Morais swiftly dispatched the superstar twice.

The Portuguese's first challenge was damaging enough by itself, but he added another immediately for good measure. Morais avoided being dismissed somehow as Pelé carried on with the game. Yet, the Santos legend was clearly hurt and could only run with his right foot. Later, Brazil would be eliminated during the group stage as the brutal actions continued.

6. Benjamin Massing on Claudio Caniggia, 1990

Claudio Caniggia went through the conga line of fouls

Although supporting the underdog has almost always had some appeal, the 1990 Cameroon team made it difficult for outsiders to do so. To call them "physical" would be a mild understatement. As an illustration, consider Benjamin Massing's brutal start on Claudio Caniggia of Argentina during the group stage.

Massing was adamant that he would not be the third defender Caniggia beat, fairly or unfairly, despite having already snuck past two guards. First to the ball, Caniggia poked it forward, but Massing lunged in his direction, stepping on his foot and body-checking his adversary. Let's just say Massing got a red card, and Caniggia was out of the game. In the end, Cameroon would defeat Argentina even though they were down to nine men in the second half. However, the South American team made it to the World Cup final before falling to West Germany. 

5. Zinedine Zidane on Marco Materazzi, 2006

The shameful end of the remarkable career of Zinedine Zidane

When Zinedine Zidane attacked Marco Materazzi in the final game of the 2006 World Cup, it became the most infamous headbutt in the annals of football. After the midfielder received a red card, the French team was forced to continue playing without their captain and tournament MVP.

This was for a cold-blooded, malicious headbutt to an opponent's sternum. It will never be known precisely what Materazzi said to set off Zidane's headbutt, but it would be his final act as a professional footballer. This event was the biggest stain on one of the best World Cups ever.

4. Leonardo on Tab Ramos, 1994

The example of Muay Thai elements in football

Many of the events on this list could have been perceived as challenges for the ball. However, the elbow Leonardo delivered to Tab Ramos during the 1994 World Cup isn't one of them.

Ramos and Leonardo got into a duel after Ramos backheeled the ball off of his foe. The Brazilian reacted violently and foolishly by sharply elbowing Ramos in the face after objecting to being pulled back. Ramos was also removed from the game as a result of this World Cup incident. Unfortunately, the midfielder, born in Uruguay, spent weeks in the hospital after suffering a skull fracture. Not until 1995 would he make a comeback on the football field. On the other hand, Brazil became FIFA World Cup Winners.

3. Muhamed Mejic on Eduard Dubinski, 1962

It is rare for a player to die as a consequence of a foul

It's uncommon to claim that a tackle caused a football player to pass away. Still, the assertion can be made in the case of Muhamed Mujic's challenge on Eduard Dubinski. The 1962 FIFA World Cup group-stage matchup between Mujic's Yugoslavia and Dubinski's USSR would be fateful for both. Despite Dubinski being carted off the field with a broken leg, the referee ignored the Bosnian's crunching foul on his Russian opponent.

Mujic would later receive a life suspension from the Yugoslav Football Federation and never play for his country again. However, his fate was nothing resembling that of Dubinski, who, partially because of the injury, developed a rare form of cancer, sarcoma, and passed away at the age of 34, seven years later. No wonder this was one of the worst FIFA World Cups ever.

2. Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston, 1982

Schumacher made Battiston's dentist a happy man

It's challenging to ignore Harald Schumacher's attack on Patrick Battiston in the semi-final game of the 1982 FIFA World Cup between West Germany and France when discussing specific violent incidents. The semi-final was a particularly memorable game for various reasons, the saddest of which was probably seeing Battiston's body mangled as if he got in a car accident. The Frenchman made contact first as they raced for a ball from opposite directions. 

Schumacher leaped into the face of the defender and threw himself at his opponent. Consequently, Battiston suffered a horrific injury, losing three teeth, fracturing his spine, and falling unconscious. As he was carried off the field on a stretcher, he was still not moving. After overcoming a two-goal deficit to tie the game in extra time, West Germany won the shootout when Schumacher saved two penalties.

1. The Battle of Santiago

In Santiago, there was a continuous brawl with the elements of football

The 1962 World Cup match between Chile and Italy will always be known as the "Battle of Santiago." This encounter, which occurred 52 years ago, was more or less a continuous brawl with sporadic football moments. This was in contrast to other FIFA World Cup incidents on this top ten list, which were isolated instances of violent play.

The first altercation started after only five minutes, including several acts that, had they happened in today's game, would have been grounds for expulsion. During the game, which BBC commentator David Coleman called "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting, and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game," police had to step in on several occasions. Even today, The Battle of Santiago stands firm as one of the most controversial World Cup games.

The World Cup is the most significant sports competition in the world. Therefore, the stakes are incredibly high, as well as the reward. In those circumstances, the pressure on the players is enormous, and sometimes they cave in. As a result, numerous violent outbursts resulted in World Cup controversies. Hopefully, we won't have much of those in the future. 

What is your choice for the worst tackle in the World Cups? Which tackles would you add to this top ten list?

Cover photo: planet_fox/pixabay


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Zeith Says:

Caniggia is the fastest player I've ever seen. Yet he wasted a bit of his talent unfortunately, but I loved him anyway.

November 23 at 03:47:12 PM

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