Every four years, the World Cup provides football fans around the globe the chance to see their favourite stars in action. As well as all the goals, skills and goalkeeping heroics, each tournament has at least one huge controversy. Take the previous World Cup in Brazil for example, when Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini, just months after he bit Branislav Ivanovic! Or who can forget Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt against Marco Materazzi in the biggest game in world football? Although this summer’s World Cup will be the first to have VAR technology, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be huge talking points ahead, particularly when the likes of Diego Costa, Hirving Lozano and Marouane Fellaini are involved. Here are some of the most controversial characters in World Cup history:
Nicolas Anelka & Patrice Evra
After losing out on penalties in the 2006 World Cup, France travelled to South Africa with optimism, although it turned out to be their worst campaign in history. Midway through their match against Mexico, the French were trailing by 2 goals, and Nicolas Anelka suddenly hurled abuse at the manager Raymond Domenech. Anelka was then sent home following the match, and captain, Patrice Evra decided to stage a mutiny against the manager rather than calling for unity. France finished bottom of the group to end an embarrassing campaign, and ex France legend, Lilian Thuram called for Evra to be banned from the national side forever.
Portuguese centre-back, Pepe, has been involved in numerous incidents on the pitch, and is well known for his hot temper. He was once banned for 10 matches when he was a Real Madrid player after lashing out at multiple Getafe players. In Portugal’s first game of the 2014 World Cup against Germany, he headbutted Thomas Muller and was shown a straight red card. Germany went on to win the game 4-0 thanks to Pepe’s moment of madness.
Rivaldo was one of the all time greats, winning every major trophy as a player, and in style. He ended up winning the 2002 World Cup with Brazil in Japan/South Korea, but in one of the group games against Turkey, he embarrassed himself by falling to the floor melodramatically and clutching his head in pain after a Turkish player kicked the ball at his leg ever so softly. Astonishingly, the referee gave Hakan Unsul a red card after being duped by Rivaldo. The Brazilian forward was later fined £5,000 for simulation.
At the 1990 World Cup, West Germany came up against their great rivals, Holland in the 16th round. Throughout the match, Germany striker, Rudi Voller and Dutch defender Frank Rijkaard were constantly tussling with each other until it reached boiling point. Frank Rijkaard took things too far when he spat at Voller after inflicting a crunching tackle on him, and then he spat at him again just 2 minutes later! Both players were eventually sent off in what was an incredibly ill-tempered affair.