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For avid football lovers across the globe, the World Cup is a special event.

Throughout the history of FIFA’s iconic tournament there have been many dramatic and controversial moments.

Most controversial moments of the World CupWhilst some have been cunning, others have stained the tournament, but whatever it may be they are now etched into World Cup folklore. Let’s take a look at these moments that have made an imprint on football forever.

1938, Italy v France – Quarter-final

In 1938, the last World Cup before World War 2, France met Italy who at that stage was in the midst of a fascist movement led by Benito Mussolini.

When the European giants encountered each other at the quarter-final stage, Italy was asked to wear its change strip as both teams traditionally wear blue. Instead of wearing the white away strip, Mussolini directed his players to instead don all black kit, the symbolic colour of the Italian fascist paramilitary. This was already an extreme measure to take, but in addition Mussolini added extra controversy to proceedings by ordering the team to hold their fascist salutes before kick-off.

Italy defeated their French opponents and would go on to win the 1938 World Cup, beating Hungary 4-2 in the final.

1950, Brazil v Uruguay – Final

If there’s any moment that’s most relevant heading into the 2014 World Cup, it’s perhaps this one, when Brazil last hosted the tournament 64 years ago. A clash with Uruguay in the final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, the Selecao were overwhelming favourites to dispose of their South American rivals.

After a string of convincing results in the preceding games, a world record crowd of over 200,000 packed the colossal arena. The Brazilian’s went ahead early in the second half through Friaca, but late strikes from Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia saw them fall to a crushing defeat on home soil.

Despite their unrivalled success following this aberration, it still irks many Brazilian fans to this very day.

1986, England v Argentina – Quarter-final

One of the sport’s most controversial figures Diego Maradona had a major impact on World Cup history in 1986. In a five-minute period in the second half of their quarter-final with England, the Argentinean broke the game open for the South American side.

A brace saw one labelled as “The hand of God” and the other “The goal of the Century”. In the 51st minute, after a miscued back pass, Maradona rose to challenge England’s goalkeeper Peter Shilton and used his hand to divert it into the net. Replays and photos clearly showed that the ball had glanced off Maradona’s hand.

Post-match the star said he’d told his teammates to, “come on and hug me, or the referee won’t allow it”.

But four minutes after that bizarre moment the world witnessed a moment of pure genius – many regard it as the greatest individual goal of all-time. Some ten metres inside his own half, Maradona picked up the ball and then began his 60-metre run towards the opposition goal, weaving his way past five English players. To complete the extraordinary run Maradona finished the move by dribbling round Shilton and slotting into the net to double Argentina’s advantage.

2006, Italy v France – Final

In 2006 an ageing, but still supremely motivated Zinedine Zidane led his Les Bleus side to the final of the World Cup in Germany.

After ‘Zizou’ arrogantly dispatched a penalty inside ten minutes of the world’s biggest game, France seemed destined for glory in Berlin. But it was Italian defender Marco Materazzi who equalised with a towering header in the first half to level terms.

A typically tight and tense affair crept into extra time, where Zidane, loved and revered by his nation, would become the ultimate villain. Much debate still circles social media as to what the protagonist Materazzi had said to provoke a true moment of madness from his counterpart Zidane. Launching a vicious head-butt into the defender’s chest the French legend duly received his marching orders.

Without their talismanic captain the French would endured heartache as they lost in a penalty shoot-out 5-3. Naturally, the media centred on Zidane’s outrageous actions and his lack of leadership at such a pivotal time in the match. It was a split second reaction that would tarnish his illustrious reputation forever.

However, opinion is still divided and some say that the rhetoric that Materazzi used was highly toxic. No matter who you side with it’s an unforgettable part of football history, there’s even a five-metre statue was erected in Paris of the iconic incident.

I’d “rather die” than say sorry, the words of Zidane that will keep this feud bubbling beneath the surface for years to come.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Tom Rapke for Outside 90
Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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