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The biggest Refereeing blunders in FIFA World Cup history

Top 5 / Top 10
12.38K   //    31 Mar 2014, 14:11 IST

Refereeing blunders have always caught the eye of the audience, and are in general quite decisive in games. Here we look at some of the biggest mistakes made by referees in football World Cup history that changed theoutcome of gamesand thereby created quite the buzz.

#8 Germany vs USA (2002)

It was U.S.A vs Germany facing each other in the last 8 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The Americans under the guidance of Bruce Arena started the match brightly. Germany, the better team on paper finally scored in the 39th minute through a Michael Ballack header.

United States pressed hard and were looking to find a breakthrough. In the 50th minute, on a corner kick, US defender Gregg Berhalter made good enough contact with the ball and looked destined to score until German defender Torsten Frings made an intervention with his outstretched hand.

The players from U.S.A pleaded for a penalty but to no avail. The only goal of the game scored by Germany won them the game and the Americans crashed out of the tournament.

#7 France vs Republic of Ireland (2010 qualifier)

France and Republic of Ireland clashed in a pulsating World Cup qualifier. The second leg of the playoff between these two countries would go onto decide the fate of the last available spot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Level on aggregate, this last attack by the French team saw Thiery Henry handling the ball to send it back into play and importantly, allowing him to cross it for William Gallas to score the vital goal.

This was the end of Republic of Ireland's bid to participate in the 2010 World Cup. The obvious handball by Henry was never seen.

#6 Brazil vs Turkey (Player Sent off)

Here we have a football legend showing off his acting skills. Brazil were awarded a corner in a 2002 World Cup match vs. Turkey, when Hakan Unsal gently lofted the ball towards Brazil's Rivaldo.

The ball hit Rivaldo on his legs but he went down clutching his face in dramatic fashion. This display of live drama by the Brazilian ensured that the Turkish left back got sent off.

FIFA later fined Rivaldo £5000 for his unsportsmanlike conduct. Brazil eventually met Turkey again in the semi-finals, beating them 1-0.


#5 U.S.A vs Slovenia (2010)

The United States of America have seen more than once, a crucial decision by the referee going against them in the World Cup. They were set to become the first team in World Cup history to make a comeback and win the game 3-2 after a 2-0 deficit.

Shortly after equalising, in the 85th minute of the game, Donovan’s curling free kick met midfielder Maurice Edu’s run who put the ball into the net, giving US a late 3-2 lead.

The lead though never was recorded as Malian referee Koman Coulibaly blew the play dead for an unknown reason.

The linesman's flag stayed down, and FIFA never came out with the report.

#4 Croatia v Australia (2006)

Graham Poll was England’s finest referee at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

A Memento moment though,saw the English referee show Croatia's Josip Simunic three yellow cards before remembering to send the player off!

#3 England vs Germany (2010)

Poor Frank Lampard was denied a screamer in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Trailing 2-0, England came back with a goal from former West Ham centre back Matthew Upson. The Three Lions did make a real comeback just a minute later but the goal was not seen by any match official. Lampard's shot struck the woodwork and bounced atleast a yard inside the goal.

Even Fabio Capello saw it from his position near the dug-outs while Lampard was ready to celebrate a very well crafted goal. The hopes of all English fans however, were buried when the defiant Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda refused to award the goal.

Understandably, the referee and his two assistants Mauricio Espinosa and Pablo Fandino were given security cover after the match.

Germany went on to win the tie 4-1. This incident was central to FIFA bringing in Goal Line Technology.

#2 England vs Argentina (1986)

The game witnessed two distinctly different types of goals: Disputed and Magical. Before Maradona scored the ‘goal of the century’, he was involved in the most infamous goal in World Cup history.

With the ball up in the air, it was always Peter Shilton‘s to grab. Somehow Maradona timed his jump to perfection to outdo the charging English goalkeeper. Maradona won the battle and the ball ended up in the back of the net.

The only issue being, Maradona had punched the ball into the net with his hand, and not his head! The goal became very famous as the ‘Hand of God’ as Maradona said that it was the Hand of God that put the ball in the net.  

This goal allowed Argentina to equalize and make the score 1-1 and Argentina went onto beat England 2-1.

#1 England vs West Germany (1966)

Referee Gottfried Dienst was absolutely lost in the mix of play that gave England a 3-2 lead over the Germans in the 1966 FIFA World Cup final.

An unsure referee went seek the advice of his assistant Tofik Bahramov. The assistant gave the goal and controversy in the German ranks erupted. His decision to trust his assistant has been questioned for years now.

The goal that never was, helped England lift their first and only World Cup to date. The match finished with a score line of 4-2 in England’s favour. 

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