Five bizarre FIFA World Cup moments | Videos

Zidane headbutts Materazzi
Zidane headbutts Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final. File photo: AFP/John MacDougall

The FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of the sport. Naturally, the competition is intense and the players give it their all. In search of victory, they sometimes resort to unsporting tactics. The pressure gets to the referees as well at times. Onmanorama picks five such bizarre instances in the history of the tournament.

Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal

Argentina took on England in a charged-up quarterfinal at Mexico 86. The Falklands War of 1982 was fresh in the minds of Argentine players and Maradona wrote in his autobiography 'Touched By God: How We Won the Mexico '86 World Cup' how determined he was to beat England.

After a goalless first half, the match sprang into life as Maradona and England custodian Peter Shilton jumped for a ball early in the second half. Shilton, who was taller than Maradona, had no chance as the street-smart Argentine captain punched the ball into the net with his left hand. The English protests fell on deaf ears as Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser allowed the goal.

Maradona settled the contest with his second goal – an absolute gem in the 55th minute. The wizard took out five English players plus a hapless Shilton to score the 'Goal of the Century'. Argentina won 2-1 and went on to clinch the title for the second time. But England never really forgot and forgave Maradona.

Zidane headbutts Materazzi

Zinedine Zidane had orchestrated France's run to the final of the 2006 World Cup where they took on Italy. Zidane converted from the spot to hand France an early lead, but Italy drew level soon through a Marco Materazzi header off a corner kick. Thereafter the deadlock continued and the brilliance of Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon denied Zidane in the first half of extra time.

It all went downhill for Zidane and France in the second period as the playmaker headbutted Materazzi. The French captain was red-carded, the first such instance in a World Cup final. Zidane would have been an automatic penalty-taker in the shootout. Italy won the penalties and emerged champions for the fourth time. Zidane later revealed that some nasty comments by Materazzi made him lose his cool. But the damage was done.

Suarez bites Chiellini

Luis Suarez is the ultimate competitor, but the Uruguayan star took it a bit too far in the crucial final group game against Italy in the 2014 edition. It was goalless with a little over 10 minutes remaining when Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and Suarez hit the ground. Television replays confirmed that Suarez bit Chiellini on the shoulder. Mexican referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez failed to spot the incident and did not penalise Suarez. Soon Uruguay scored and the 1-0 result knocked Italy out.

However, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, banned Suarez for nine international matches, ending his World Cup. Uruguay sans Suarez lost 0-2 to Colombia in the pre-quarterfinals.

Ref flashes three yellow cards to same player!

Australia progressed to the knockout phase after a 2-2 draw with Croatia in an ugly contest in the 2006 edition. This was the game in which Croatia's Josip Simunic was shown a red card after receiving his third yellow of the game in added time! English referee Graham Poll had failed to expel Simunic after showing him a second yellow four minutes before.

Simunic was first booked in the 61st minute. The referee then flashed a second yellow for another foul just before stoppage time but failed to send him off. Simunic was eventually re-carded for dissent in the 93rd minute.

Poll was sent home from the World Cup and has not officiated in a tournament since.

Rijkaard spits on Voller 

West Germany took on European champions the Netherlands in a much-anticipated pre-quarterfinal clash at Italia 90. However, it turned out to be a forgettable outing with Germany winning 2-1 at San Siro in Milan. German forward Rud Voller and Dutch defender Frank Rijkaard were sent off in the first half after the Dutchman spat on Voller twice. Argentine referee Juan Carlos Loustau was fed up with the antics of the two and gave both the marching orders.

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