The FIFA World Cup has been host to a plethora of memories and moments that have brought joy and glory to countries and fans. However, there have also been instances where certain players have chosen to take matters into their own hands, leading to them being labeled as the greatest World Cup villains. Here are eight players who have left a bad taste in viewers’ mouths with their actions on the pitch:
1. Diego Maradona (Argentina, 1986) – While regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Maradona’s handball in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup against England earned him the infamous label ‘Hand of God’.
2. Luis Suarez (Uruguay, 2010 & 2014) – Suarez has been responsible for multiple controversies on the international stage, including being sent off for a deliberate handball against Ghana in the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup, and biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 tournament.
3. Zinedine Zidane (France, 2006) – The 2006 World Cup final saw Zidane headbutt Marco Materazzi, resulting in the French captain receiving a red card and his team losing the finals.
4. Harald Schumacher (West Germany, 1982) – During the semi-final against France in 1982, Schumacher collided with Patrick Battiston, leaving the French defender unconscious and with a broken jaw. The German goalkeeper did not even receive a yellow card for his actions.
5. Rivaldo (Brazil, 2002) – In a group stage match against Turkey in 2002, Rivaldo earned a penalty by pretending to be hit in the face by a ball kicked by the Turkish player. This led to the Turkish player being sent off and Brazil winning the match.
6. Roy Keane (Ireland, 2002) – Prior to the 2002 World Cup, Keane criticized his team’s preparations and was sent home from the tournament after a bust-up with manager Mick McCarthy.
7. Mauro Tassotti (Italy, 1994) – Tassotti’s elbow to the face of Luis Enrique during Italy’s quarterfinal against Spain in 1994 left the Spaniard with a broken nose. Tassotti went unpunished on the field but was later banned for eight games.
8. Nigel de Jong (Netherlands, 2010) – In the final of the 2010 World Cup, de Jong kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest, earning himself a yellow card and cementing his reputation as one of the dirtiest players in international football history.
While these individuals may have tarnished their reputations with their actions, they have also reminded us that the World Cup is not just a game; it’s a highly competitive arena where athletes are often willing to do anything to win.
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