I've listed some of the controversial moments that has been highlighted many times in recent years.
Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Marco Materazzi (2006)
The stage was set! Two of the biggest European powerhouses face-off in the 2006 final! For Zinedine Zidane, it was a matter of ending his illustrious career with a bang. At the age of 34, he was France’s key player and impressed throughout the tournament with his leadership and finesse. Italy also had a good tournament and one player, Marco Materazzi, was drafted into the first-team after Alessandro Nesta’s injury. These two players proved to be the main characters in the final. Materazzi conceded a penalty in which Zidane converted the spot-kick. Materazzi later redeemed himself when he scored the equalising goal for Italy. The game headed to extra-time but one moment of madness proved to be the difference. Materazzi and Zidane were involved in a confrontation in the 110th minute. Zidane claimed Materazzi used racially-abusive words on him. Everyone thought it ended that way but not so. In a heated moment, Zidane lunged at Materazzi, his head going straight to the latter's chest. That cost Zidane a sent-off and France lost their main penalty-taker. Materazzi later converted Italy’s second penalty to help Italy clinch their third World Cup. I believed things could have been different if Zidane stayed on the pitch but one moment of madness caused his country the title.
David Beckham’s sending off against Argentina (1998)
He was heralded as one of the talents to watch during the 1998 World Cup though coach, Glenn Hoddle, had other ideas. Hoddle didn’t pick him for the first two games questioning Beckham’s commitment to the national side. He eventually started in the third game and impressed when he scored a curling 30m free-kick against Colombia. In the second round, Beckham was selected to play against Argentina. However, it was a game he would rather forget. During the round 16 match, Beckham was at the receiving end of a heavy challenge from Argentina’s hardman Diego Simeone. While lying on the floor, the then 23-year-old midfielder kicked Simeone and the Argentine fell theatrically. That action got him sent off. The match finished in a draw and England were eliminated in a penalty shootout. Beckham was vilified by the press and supporters after that incident. He even received death threats! However, he redeemed himself in the 2002 World Cup and is now considered one of the legends of English football.
Diego Maradona’s hand of god goal against England (1986)
Diego Maradona is one of the greatest in world football, if not the best! However, many will not forget his performance against England in the quarter-finals. After 50 minutes into the game, Maradona did the unthinkable when he scored a goal by raising his hands to collect a high ball. It was coined as the ‘Hand of God’ goal. Maradona, despite being 20cm shorter than the 1.85m English goalie Peter Shilton, reached for the ball first but with his outside left hand. The ball sailed pass the goalmouth. The match referee did not see the infringement and allowed the goal, much to the annoyance of the English players and management. In the match, Maradona scored one of the most beautiful goal in the history of World Cup when he slalomed past five English players to score a brilliant solo goal. Argentina went on to win the tournament and that win cemented Maradona’s reputation as the games greatest but that ‘Hand of God’ goal will long be remembered.
Maradona sending-off against Brazil (1982)
Four years before his heroics in 1986, Diego Maradona will forever be known for his crunching tackle on Brazilian Joao Batista da Silva in his last match of the tournament. It was Maradona's first Cup appearance, he was also Barcelona’s record signing at the time. He performed badly in the first group match but impressed in the next two games to help Argentina qualify for the second round. In the second round, Argentina were paired with Italy and Brazil but it was in these two games that Maradona failed to impress. Against Italy, Maradona was aggressively man marked by Claudio Gentile as Italy beat the Argentines. Against Brazil, Maradona literally blew his top! After going through numerous challenges, his anger got the better of him when he landed his boots on Joao Batista’s thigh. That was a sent-off for a serious retaliatory foul and Argentina ended their campaign in a sour note.
Luis Suarez’s ‘hand of god’ block against Ghana (2010)
Never short of controversies! From biting arms to diving for penalties, Luis Suarez seems to have done it all. However, with Liverpool in the just-concluded English league, Suarez looked more matured and his performances have outshined his controversial antics. Since this story is on unforgettable moments, Luis Suarez hogged the headlines when he blocked a goal-bound header with his hand during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Ghana. That action earned him a red card and Ghana was awarded a penalty. Asamoah Gyan took it but his shot hit cross-bar. It came to penalty shoot-outs in which Uruguay beat Ghana. Suarez’s actions were loathed by some quarters but he was hailed as a hero by Uruguayans. The fact he celebrated Gyan’s miss in the dressing room was crazy but hey, he in a way helped Uruguay beat Ghana.