The 5 Least Likely Scandals at World Cup 2014
When the tournament hits Brazil next summer, FIFA will be hoping for as little negative column inches as possible—they will have enough on their hands trying to quell the anger of local protesters.
Here are five scandals that football's governing body definitely won't have to worry about...
Leo Messi Knocks England out of the Quarterfinals with a Handball
Argentina have failed to beat England five times since the 1986 World Cup, when one of the greatest injustices of World Cup history occurred at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico.
In a quarterfinal bout set against the tension-filled backdrop of the Falklands War, referee Ali Bin Nasser saw nothing wrong with 5'5" Diego Maradona out-jumping 6'1" England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to put the Argentineans ahead. To rub it in, he then went and scored the greatest individual goal of all time.
The Three Lions have already been cheated from one World Cup tournament by a very talented diminutive Argentinean, so surely history couldn't repeat itself with Leo Messi's digits helping the ball on its way into the net?
There are two reasons why this couldn't happen. Messi appears to have more moral fibre than Saint Diego, and there's more chance of Sepp Blatter getting a sex change in Rio than England making the quarters.
Sepp Blatter Switches the Tournament to Qatar One Week Before It's Due to Start
Sepp Blatter has been the subject of more corruptions allegations than he can probably remember, while many of his FIFA cronies have been found guilty of brown-envelope-related misdeeds over the years.
Eyebrows were raised in December 2010 when the 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia (a nation with plenty of oil-rich investors) and the 2022 tournament was given to Qatar (a nation with plenty of oil-rich investors).
If the FIFA president sees fit to support a tournament that will be held in an arid Arabian desert where alcohol and homosexuality are not tolerated and temperatures will be dangerous for fans and players, then perhaps he could bring it forward a few years, rather than pushing it back to winter 2022?
Maybe football's governing body will be put off by the protests seen at the Confederations Cup in Brazil, as well as the temperament of a nation that is angry that resources are being diverted away from hospitals and infrastructure to pay for a costly sporting circus.
In reality, cancelling the tournament in Brazil would be a devastatingly mutinous decision, but when Blatter was being booed at the Confederations Cup, you can bet it crossed his mind.
Maradona and Pele Have a Fistfight on the Field in the Opening Ceremony
They may be two of the greatest players the game has ever seen and they may be heading into their autumn years, but Pele and Maradona still continue to bicker at each other like petty school girls.
The Argentinean once suggested, apropos of nothing, that his adversary lost his virginity to a man, while the Brazilian has bitten back by claiming Maradona only took the national team manager's job for the money.
“I don't know why he speaks about me so much, he must be in love with me," Pele said in a Telegraph story after Maradona had accused him of not backing the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
One day, the sniping is going to lead to a physical confrontation. Could it be that they break out into fisticuffs in front of the entire world in the centre of the field as they are paraded in the opening ceremony?
It would make for magical television, but FIFA are surely smart enough to keep them apart.
The England Team Fall for a Prostitute Honey Trap
At the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, tabloid newspaper Bild attempted to give the hosts a competitive advantage by stinging fierce rivals The Netherlands with a honey trap scandal.
As the Dutch players relaxed by a pool at their hotel, the newspaper sent in a gaggle of female escorts, who undressed and went for a dip. The next day, Bild ran photos purporting to be of a Dutch hotel orgy. Later, Johan Cruyff's side would lose to Die Mannschaft in the final.
There will be no shortage of prostitutes in Brazil—the profession is legal and they are working hard at learning English to accommodate their international visitors next summer—but the England team are unlikely to be stung like the Dutch. Not only will they be holed up in a paparazzi-proof compound for the tournament, but most are Premiership footballers with enough experience with ladies of the night to know when they are being set up.
The Final Will Be Decided by a Ghost Goal
Thanks to the limited technology of the time, the 1966 World Cup final remains a hotbed of controversy: Did Geoff Hurst's 101st-minute strike actually cross the line? Would it have mattered anyway, seeing as the West Ham striker completed his hat-trick at the other end 19 minutes later?
Thankfully, a "ghost goal" scandal in the World Cup final is extremely unlikely next year, as FIFA have finally agreed to adopt goal-line technology after dragging their heels on the issue for several years.
The goals at the Maracana will be monitored by the German GoalControl system—and not the Hawk-Eye system used in the Premier League—with seven cameras pointed at the each end to track the ball to within a millimetre of its spherical existence.