By 90Min
June 21, 2019

We live in a world that is littered with controversy. Whether it be in politics, sports, the arts or something else, a scandal is never far.

Here's a look at 50 of the biggest controversies in the history of the beautiful game.

Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (2018)


Cuneyt Cakir's handling of the 2018 Champions League semi final between heavyweights Real and Bayern was, according to Spanish newspaper Sport"just the latest act of villainy" - in Los Blancos' march to the showpiece event in Kiev.

There were so many terrible decisions from the Turkish official that it's actually laughable.

My goodness, if this was match-fixing it was extremely unsubtle.

Fabio Grosso's Dive (2006)

Robert Cianflone/GettyImages

Playing in their first ever World Cup knockout game, Australia's journey was cruelly ended by a stoppage-time Francesco Totti spot-kick for Italy in 2006.

Let's just say the awarding of the decisive penalty was questionable.

Sheffield United Relegated (2007)

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Carlos Tevez arrived at West Ham United in 2006 almost out of the blue. His splendid goalscoring form managed to keep the Irons in the Premier League, finishing just above Sheffield United on the final day of the season. 

However, it was revealed that West Ham had broken third-party ownership rules in bringing him to London, a breach that the Blades believed warranted a points deduction. It never came.

The two clubs instead settled things outside of the court room. 

Justin Fashanu Comes Out (1990)

There are still no openly gay footballers playing in the top divisions in England, an outcome that is perhaps related to the reaction Justin Fashanu met upon coming out in 1990. 

He found job offers hard to come by and received disgusting levels of abuse, before an allegation of sexual assault eight years later saw the former striker take his own life.

The Introduction of VAR (2010s)


You can run all you like, hide wherever you want, you're still gonna hear about VAR. 

It's been the hot topic for a while now, with punditry panels regularly discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the technology.

Regardless of whether you've been crying out for it for years or you think that it should be locked away in Pandora's Box, VAR is here to stay. Better make peace with it before you're driven insane.

Barbados 4-2 Grenada (1994)

Qualifying matches for the 1994 Caribbean Cup introduced a strange rule that has (unsurprisingly) not caught on. Firstly, there had to be a winner, meaning extra time could be necessary.

But, the golden goal was in place and scores in extra time were worth double. That is why - needing a victory by two or more goals to qualify - Barbados deliberately conceded in the last-minute of the regulation 90, thereby giving themselves a better chance of getting the two-score win. 

Evidently, the footballing gods are unjust as they allowed the Barbadians to nab it!

Sam Allardyce's England Tenure (2016)

JOE KLAMAR/GettyImages

Big Sam? More like Silly Sam, who was duped into discussing the best ways to get around FIFA's ruled regarding third-party ownership by Daily Telegraph reporters. 

It was all caught on tape, Allardyce resigned from his national team post with immediate effect and still holds the greatest record in England manager history (one match played, one glorious 1-0 win over Slovakia).

Josip Simunic's Triple-Booking (2006)

Graham Poll, look away now. 

The English referee made a right fool of himself at the 2006 World Cup as he oversaw Croatia's Group F meeting with Australia. 

Croat defender Josip Simunic managed to earn three bookings in the match, eventually walking when Poll showed the hat-trick-completing yellow AFTER the final whistle had been blown.

Roy Keane Ends Alfe-Inge Haaland's Career (1997)

Gary M. Prior/GettyImages

This was just mean. Keane had picked up a serious injury years back against Leeds United, then-Whites defender Haaland accusing the Irishman of feigning his agony. There are better people than Roy Keane to say such things to.

The Red Devils stalwart had to wait, but ultimately got his revenge with a sickening, stud-heavy lunge into the Norwegian's knee during a Manchester derby, a challenge the latter never recovered from. 

Keane has since stated he has no regrets; charming.

The Heysel Disaster (1985)


Liverpool's treble-winning coach Joe Fagan resigned in the wake of the Heysel disaster, an incident that took the lives of 39 Juventus fans. 

They were crushed against a wall by a mass of charging Reds supporters in the hour leading up to the European Cup final, the tragedy resulting in an indefinite ban for all English clubs.

Ferguson Boots Beckham (2003)

Having gathered his United recruits in the dressing room following a 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson proceeded to given them all a good old bo**ocking. 

David Beckham caught the brunt of it, his manager unleashing a long-range piledriver aimed directly at the England superstar's head. Unfortunately, Fergie wasn't using a beach ball...or any kind of ball for that matter. 

Nope, Beckham got a face full of boot, instead.

Emiliano Sala Aftermath (2019)


Emiliano Sala's death continues to make headlines.

Cardiff City - who had just purchased the striker for £15m at the time of his passing - remain in a legal battle with his old side Nantes over how much of the transfer fee should be paid. 

It's all a bit distasteful, slightly tarnishing Sala's legacy and disturbing his loved ones' mourning.

England 4-2 West Germany (1966)

Hulton Archive/GettyImages

England's only ever World Cup triumph came at Wembley in 1966, and still stands as one of the finest moments the nation has experienced. Shame, then, that victory in the final came after a goal was (probably) incorrectly awarded.

Hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst's second of the contest, coming six minutes into extra time with the game tied, rattled the underside of the bar and bounced down behind Hans Tilkowski in the West Germany net. 

The linesman gave it, he maybe shouldn't have and the rest is history.

Roger Milla's Disallowed Goal (1982)

Italy were crowned as world champions in 1982, but they really should not have made it out of the groups. Cameroonian demigod Roger Milla fired in the winner in his country's clash with Peru, only to see the effort falsely chalked off.

The Africans went on to finish level on points and goal difference with Italy, the latter going through having scored one more than their counterparts. Talk about bad luck.

The Bundesliga Scandal (1971)

At a random garden party held in mainland Germany to celebrate the 50th birthday of a Spaniard named Horst-Gregorio Canellas, the entire Bundesliga was shaken to its core. 

Canellas - owner of one of the competing clubs - took the opportunity to reveal information he had gathered regarding bribery and fixing in the league to officials present at the gathering.

In total, 52 players, two managers and six club functionaries were incriminated and later punished with varying degrees of severity. 

Roy Keane Abandons Ireland (2002)

Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

It's that man again! The happy-go-lucky, man-of-the-people Roy Keane walked out on his Republic of Ireland teammates in the build-up to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea following an altercation with coach Mick McCarthy, which I'm sure was very civil and courteous.

Many attempt were made to resurrect the pair's relationship, but all of them failed. Keane stayed at home as his compatriots did the Emerald Isle proud, going out on penalties to Spain in the last-16.

Frank Lampard's Ghost Goal (2010)

Joern Pollex/GettyImages

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Hurst's goal in 1966 maybe/possibly/potentially didn't cross the line; we've already mentioned that. It doesn't justify what happened in South Africa 44 years later. 

Lampard's sumptuous volley was about 2.3 nautical miles over the whitewash and gave England the momentum to go on and win that round-of-16 showdown with Germany... well, it could have happened.

Alas, what could have been a stunning comeback victory over their fiercest foes became a 4-1 humbling and an early exit. It definitely did't come home in 2010.

Luis Suarez's Biting (2010, 2013 and 2014)

Julian Finney/GettyImages

This one needs little explanation. 

Suarez first discovered the wonders of biting people with Ajax in 2010 when nibbling on PSV's Otman Bakkal, later feasting on Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea and Giorgio Chiellini in a 2014 World Cup group-stage match.

Lasagna-Gate (2006)

Tottenham Hotspur were all set to finish above rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995. Then, lasagna happened. Martin Jol's players indulged in the dish the night before a game at West Ham, their final fixture of the campaign.

On the morning of the match, a whole host of Spurs players were struck down by a bug, with some apparently struggling to even walk. They lost 2-1 at Upton Park and the Gunners once again reigned supreme in north London.

Frank Rijkaard's Spit (1990)

Taking offence with Rudi Voller's challenge in their 1990 World Cup knockout tie, Dutchman Frank Rijkaard kept things classy and spat in his opponent's hair when he wasn't looking. 

Not satisfied with just saliva-based attacks, he then twisted the German's ear before the duo came face-to-face, both losing their cool and seeing red in an ugly affair.

The Netherlands' Dirty Tactics (2010)


Spitting, kicking - it's all good in the Netherlands. Painfully aware of Spain's marvellous abilities with the ball, the Dutch chose an alternative route to glory.

Whilst their counterpart's relied upon flair and an understanding of the game, they utilised fouls and underhand tactics. It didn't work (thank goodness), the Oranje failing to kick enough chunks out of match-winner Andres Iniesta.

The Battle of Berne (1954)


World Cups seem to bring the worst out of people. A ravenous Hungary outfit - which had amassed 17 goals in the first two group matches - sunk Brazil 4-2, but the conduct of the two teams is what makes this clash so infamous.

Three players were sent off, the entire contest was more like a scene from Saving Private Ryan than Escape to Victory and fighting continued after the final whistle as blows were exchanged in the dressing rooms.

Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona (2009)


"It's a disgrace!"

Didier Drogba summed up the feelings of all Blues supporters in the aftermath of the club's Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona. Four penalty appeals were waved away by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, of which at least two were stonewall spot-kicks.

Andres Iniesta rifled in a stoppage-time stunner to send the Catalans through to the final, but that was not the story that dominated the back pages the following morning.

John Terry and Wayne Bridge (2010)

The less said about this one the better. John Terry and Wayne Bridge were teammates for both England and Chelsea. Terry allegedly had an affair with Bridge's ex-girlfriend. 

It was not cool, not cool at all.

Harald Schumacher and Patrick Battiston (1982)

Steve Powell/GettyImages

Watching the footage of Schumacher's vile attack on Battiston is enough to make the stomach turn. In a World Cup semi between France and Germany, Platini played the latter through, only to see his comrade wiped out by the opposition 'keeper.

Schumacher - who was in goal for the Germans - charged off his line and leapt directly into the blindsided Battiston, catching him square-on with a hip to the face. Vertebrae were broken and teeth were lost, the Frenchman later slipping into a coma. This was straight up assault.

The Disgrace of Gijon (1982)

When West Germany took on Austria in their final group game of the 1982 World Cup, both sides knew a slender win for the former would take both through, as Algeria had already played their last pool fixture.

It was idiotic scheduling. The helpless Algerians had to stand and watch as the two European nations played out a drab affair, with an early German goal being followed by over an hour of  lacklustre football, pedestrian play and plenty of caution.

Rio Ferdinand's Ban (2003)


Ferdinand missed a routine drugs test shortly after his big-money move to Manchester United, being hit with an eight-month ban as a result. 

The ensuing debate centred around whether it was right to hand the defender such a weighty punishment for an allegedly honest mistake.

Thierry Henry's Handball (2009)

Having matched each other punch-for-punch over the two legs of their World Cup qualification playoff, France and the Republic of Ireland needed extra time and an extra hand to be separated.

Thierry Henry settled the result, using his hand to control an awkward ball and, in turn, squaring for William Gallas to turn home the decider. Ireland players saw it all and told it all to the disinterested ref, but the goal stood and the Boys in Green fell.

Rivaldo's Play-Acting (2002)


In their World Cup opener, Brazil overcame a plucky Turkish outfit to claim a 2-1 triumph, though the score is much less memorable than the actions of Rivaldo. 

Preparing to take a corner, the forward went down like he'd been shot by a sniper after being passed to by Hakan Unsal. In Rivaldo's mind, he had been viciously attacked with a football. 

In reality, he had been given the ball by a hurrying opponent who wanted to get on with the game.

El Maracanazo (1989)

With their World Cup qualification hopes hanging by a thread, Chile goalkeeper Roberto Rojas appeared to be gravely injured by a flare that had been thrown onto the pitch by the surrounding Brazil fans.

His teammates walked off in protest, believing they would get a rematch and, therefore, another shot at defeating their South American rivals. They didn't, with replays showing the projectile had landed over a metre away from Rojas, the Chilean deliberately cutting himself with a razor blade to fake an attack.

Zico's Non-Goal (1978)

With the scores level between Brazil and Sweden in the final minute of play, referee Clive Thomas signalled for a corner for the Selecao. He allowed them to take the set-piece, but blew his whistle with the ball in mid-flight.

So, the match was over. The issue was that Brazilian magician met the cross and Zico bulleted a header in, only to realise it was all in vain. You can imagine the fury and frustration Thomas' decision caused.

Bilic Gets Blanc Booked (1998)

Laurent Blanc only ever received one red card in his playing career. Regrettably, it came in the last four of a home World Cup and it was wholly unjustified.

Slaven Bilic of Croatia collapsed holding his face after an innocuous coming-together with the Frenchman, the latter inexplicably being given his marching orders and, therefore, sitting out of the 3-0 success in the final over Brazil.

Luis Suarez's Handball (2010)


Luis Suarez has a rap sheet longer than Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title, but this is one of the worst. 

Ghana met Uruguay in the last eight of the 2010 World Cup and would have become the first African nation to reach the semis had the striker not batted away a last-gasp header with his hands.

Goalscorer Asamoah Gyan took the resulting penalty, only to wham it off the top of the bar. He converted his attempt in the shootout that followed, but it proved inconsequential as Ghana crashed out of the tournament.

Marseille's Match-Fixing (1993)


With a Champions League final against Milan immediately after, Marseille were understandably eager to avoid being pushed too hard in their match with Valenciennes.

So, they bribed four of their opponents' players to underperform. However, one of them outed the Ligue 1 leaders, who were later stripped of their title. Still, Marseille will be relatively pleased with the outcome as they beat Milan 1-0 in Munich, a trophy they were allowed to keep.

Ribery, Benzema and an Underage Prostitute (2014)


Another unsavoury incident, French international duo Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery were reportedly involved in illicit activities with an underage sex-worker. The case was later dropped by the court, but it has no doubt impacted the pair's public image.

The First Italian Match-Fixing Scandal (1980)


If you've heard of the 2006 Italian match-fixing scandal, then you can probably guess what occurred 26 years prior. 

The first time around, Milan and Lazio were both relegated to Serie B, whilst five other clubs took points reductions for their involvement in the criminal activity.

Qatar Awarded 2022 World Cup (2010)


Why!? Why have Qatar been given hosting duties for the 2022 World Cup? 

I'm sure it's a lovely country and all, but it's such a bizarre choice that can't really be explained... unless, of course, there were some backdoor dealings.

The Hand of God (1986)

Let's face it, you know how this one goes.

Diego Maradona scores two truly unique goals to overturn England at the 1986 World Cup, first punching the ball beyond Peter Shilton, before dribbling it past the entire English line-up, six cups of tea and the Queen to seal Argentina's safe passage through to the next round.

UK Sexual Abuse Scandal (2016)


A government investigation revealed the rife and systemic sexual abuse that youth footballers had suffered, focusing on the academy set-ups of Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra. 

Many individuals were questioned and later arrested, but the damage had already been done. This was a real wake up call.

South Korea 2-1 Italy (2002)

Ben Radford/GettyImages

On the face of it, this looks like a superb underdog performance from South Korea. It's not. They weren't brave or courageous in their defeat of four-time champions Italy, but instead relied upon officials who were absurdly biased in their management of the tie. 

Just watch this one on YouTube and marvel at the spectacularly poor refereeing.

Der Spiegel and Manchester City (2019)


This is one scandal where we don't know the ending. German newspaper Der Spiegel have accused the Citizens of breaking financial fair play rules, triggering a UEFA investigation. 

There's now a very real possibility of Champions League expulsion for City, so you'll wanna keep posted on how this unfolds.

Richard Keys and Andy Gray's Sexist Comments (2011)

According to Richard Keys and Andy Gray - the pair fronting Sky's coverage of the Premier League - the experienced, fully-trained, top-level lineswoman Sian Massey doesn't know the offside rule. Someone should let the FA Head of Senior Referee Development know about this!

The comments Keys and Gray made were admittedly out of contexts and later described as 'banter', but their attitudes have no place in the sport and are grossly offensive. I imagine they would prefer things back in the 1950s.

Maradona's World Cup Bender (1994)

Eight years on from his 'Hand of God' goal versus England, Maradona came back to once more steal the headlines on the world stage. 

To celebrate a breath-taking score against Greece, the ever-entertaining Argentine charged at pitch-side cameras as his wild eyes popped and his gaping mouth roared. Cocaine. He was definitely on cocaine, with FIFA ejecting him from the tournament due to the habit.

The Murder of Andres Escobar (1994)

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

 goal which contributed to (but certainly didn't cause) his country's group stage exit. 

Later that summer, Escobar was approached and shot six times by three strangers, the men chanting 'Goal!' with as each bullet penetrated their victim. The incident massively harmed Colombia's reputation in the international sphere.

The Hillsborough Disaster (1989)


We still await the conclusion of this tragic tale in which 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. 

Fans want justice for what they believe to be police negligence and may yet get it, but what is most important here is preserving and honouring the memories of the victims.

Racist Abuse (Ongoing)

This is not a problem that can be attributed to any one nation. Racism remains prevalent and much more work is required before we can even begin to entertain the idea that equality has been achieved. 

I don't need to list any of the countless abuses that have gone on in football, we are all too aware of the issue.

Mexico Drugs Scandal (2011)

Rick Yeatts/GettyImages

Five members of the Mexico national team - including Guillermo Ochoa and Francisco Rodriguez - were found to have taken illegal substances in the lead up to the 2011 Gold Cup, with all involved being banned from the tournament.

They claimed that contaminated beef had led to them ingesting the steroid clenbuterol, but were unable to overturn the decision. 

Calciopoli Scandal (2006)


If you thought Italian football had learned its lesson from 1980, you'd be wrong. 

This time it was Juventus who chose to cheat and it was Juventus who paid the price, the Bianconeri being stripped of two Serie A titles, as well as being demoted to the second tier.

The Battle of Santiago (1962)


Have you ever seen a foul so bad that the police intervened? Well, the authorities were called upon following this brutal, bruising encounter between Italy and hosts Chile at the 1962 World Cup.

Punches were a common sight and violence reigned supreme, yet somehow only two players were sent off. Must have been some lenient officiating.

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