Squabbles on the big stage

World Cup football has had its share of controversies. The suspected match fixing by West Germany and Austria in a final Group Two game in 1982; the controversial Diego Maradona goal against England in 1986, or the contentious Geoff Hurst strike at Wembley have been the dark side of an otherwise magnificent event. A peep into World Cup's 10 great controversies.

1962: The Battle of Santiago

The Chilean supporters were well up for their team's Group B clash with Italy before kick-off, and it did not take long for their nasty passion to transfer to their heroes. The home fans, furious at a series of derogatory articles which had appeared in Italian newspapers prior to the World Cup, booed the Azzurri from the outset. The Italians for their part claimed tension was heightened by the home players' habit of spitting in their faces.

The battle was not slow in commencing. Italy's Giorgio Ferrini was sent off by English referee Ken Aston for retaliating against Honorino Landa, and play was held up for eight minutes when Ferrini refused to leave the pitch.

Chile's Leonel Sanchez punched Mario David and after Aston took no action, David was sent off for kicking Sanchez in the neck. Humberto Maschio broke his nose in a clash with Eladio Rojas. Chile won 2-0 and the Italians were later attacked at their training camp.

When `highlights' of the match were shown on BBC television, David Coleman introduced the game thus: "Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game."

1982: Ku-wait a minute

Kuwait had drawn their first match against an abject Czechoslovakian side and held out for the first half-hour against a talented France side in their second Group B encounter. France went 3-1 ahead and ought to have made it four, when Alain Giresse ran through the Kuwaiti defence and slotted the ball past Ahmad Al-Tarabulsi.

The Kuwaitis were furious, insisting they had stopped because they had heard a whistle, which had actually been blown in the crowd. They surrounded Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar and team manager Sheikh Al-Sabah appeared on the touchline to order his players off the pitch. Incredibly, referee Stupar disallowed the goal, but France went on to score their rightful fourth through Maxime Bossis.

1986: The `Hand of God'

Diego Maradona tarnished his tumultuous talent and made Argentina's quarterfinal victory over England one of the most memorable of all World Cup games. England had held out well until the 51st minute, although Bobby Robson's decision not to play with a conventional winger was affording Maradona space.

When Steve Hodge miskicked a clearance Maradona and England captain Peter Shilton leapt high for the ball close to the penalty box. Maradona made up for what he lacked in inches by clearly raising his right hand above Shilton's head and palming the ball into the net.

So blatant was his rule-breaking that even Maradona himself did not try to exonerate himself. "It was the Hand of God," he famously said afterwards.

Maradona scored a stunning second four minutes later and Argentina won 2-1, but the world's best player had left a sour taste in the mouth.

1974: Haiti Horror

The minnows from Haiti scarcely deserved to be in the finals in the first place. Under the terrifying regime of Papa Doc Duvalier, they had played their final qualifying match at home, beating Trinidad, who had had no less than four goals disallowed. Haiti's fine display in their first match against Italy, which they lost 3-1, was overshadowed afterwards when defender Ernst Jean-Joseph became the first player in the World Cup to fail a dope test.

Jean-Joseph was hauled into his training camp, held against his will and beaten up by his own officials. Terrified, he telephoned two neutral officials who attempted to intervene on his behalf.

Amazingly they themselves were reprimanded, and Jean-Joseph was flown home to Haiti to face the music.

1930: New balls, please

The first World Cup may not have been greeted with widespread enthusiasm, particularly in Europe, which provided only four of the finalists. But the final, between South American rivals Uruguay and Argentina, was anything but irrelevant.

Argentinian Luis Monti received a death threat and Belgian referee John Langenus demanded a quick escape route plan to get back to his ship. On the day of the final all hell broke loose when both camps demanded the use of a ball manufactured in their own country. Following a heated argument there was deadlock, before Langenus came up with the ingenious idea of playing each half with one of each.

1966: It ain't over till it's over

Geoff Hurst may have scored the most dramatic World Cup goal ever, but his injury-time winner at Wembley was more important for diminishing the impact of his controversial second goal. Ten minutes into extra-time, Alan Ball crossed from the right to Hurst, who beat Schulz, controlled the ball first time and whacked it against the underside of the crossbar.The ball bounced down on the goalline and was cleared.

Referee Gottfried Dienst consulted his linesman, Tofik Bakhramov, who was a long way away from the action, but said the ball had crossed the line.

To this day the debate still rages, though the multitude of action replays seem to side with the protesting Germans.

1982: It's a fix

One of the most unpalatable matches in the tournament's history occurred in the final Group Two game between West Germany and Austria. There is still no direct evidence that the two teams agreed the result beforehand, but the nature of the midfield jaunt said it all.

Germany, who had been embarrassingly beaten by Algeria in their first group match, needed a win to progress, while Austria only needed to avoid defeat by four goals to join them.

After Horst Hrubesch's 11th-minute header both sides sat back and failed to create another chance between them. When the final whistle ended the agonising tedium, West Germany and Austria were through, and the tearful Algerians were out in a fury.

2002: Korea reap refereeing rewards

Joint hosts South Korea's legion of fans both inside and outside their World Cup matches were a joy to behold and their progress to the semifinals was generally welcomed by neutrals. However, they were the beneficiaries of some dubious refereeing decisions in both the second round and the quarterfinals. First, Italy striker Christian Vieri had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside as the Azzurri were ultimately conquered 2-1 by an Ahn Jung-Hwan golden goal in extra-time. Reaction in Italy was not pleasant, with supporters protesting that the referee had "stolen the game" and Perugia president Luciano Gaucci sacking Ahn for having the temerity to score the winner. An even more blatant refereeing error favoured the Koreans against Spain in the quarterfinal. Joaquin crossed for Fernando Morientes to head home, only for Egyptian official Gamal Ghandour to rule that the ball had crossed the touchline before Joaquin centred it. Replays suggested the ball was in play by about a foot.

1978: Argentina's unjust reward

The scandal of the 1978 tournament was not in the matches themselves, which were as good as any series that had gone before, but in its awarding to a country cowering under a particularly repressive military rule. The Argentinian people paid a terrible price to stage the World Cup.

Millions of the junta's opponents had been murdered and tortured in the two years before the event and when the world's media arrived they were kept well away from the horrible truth. The first president of the organising committee was blown up and a bomb exploded in a press facility. Thousands of extra security measures were introduced and ensured the competition itself passed off as peacefully as it could in such shocking circumstances.

1970: Salvadorean shocker

A spectacular refereeing error by Ali Kandil during the first-round game between Mexico and El Salvador left the Central Americans apoplectic. The minnows had held out until the 44th minute and were awarded a free-kick deep in their own half. But they watched in horror as Mexico's Padilla stepped up to take the kick, crossing for Valdivia to poke home the opener into an open goal.

The El Salvadoreans surrounded Kandil and his linesman, kicking the ball into the crowd and challenging the referee to book or send them off. Kandil wisely blew for half-time. In the second half, El Salvador continued to kick the ball into the crowd as often as possible, and lost 4-0.

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