20 Biggest Blunders of the 2014 World Cup
There were plenty of beautiful moments at this World Cup: James Rodriguez's goal against Uruguay, Robin van Persie giving his captain's armband and medal to a loyal Dutchman and the Belgian fan who won a modelling contract (and then lost it very quickly).
However, there were also, numerous blunders in Brazil — both on and off the pitch.
Here are the top 20 blunders, which include bad refereeing, shoddy performances and, er, nude photobombs...
20. Greece Being Awarded a Penalty Against the Ivory Coast
Greece's Group C bout with the Ivory Coast was tied at 1-1 in the 91st minute when Georgios Samaras went down in the box from an apparent challenge by Giovanni Sio.
Replays, however, suggested minimal contact from Sio as Samaras fell after kicking the ground.
Regardless, Ecuadorian referee Carlos Vera gave the spot-kick, which Samaras converted to give Greece a 2-1 win.
Without this controversially—and potentially blunderous—call, the Ivorians would have progressed to the knockout stage instead of their European rivals.
19. Letting Alvaro Pereira Play on with a Concussion
During Uruguay's 2-1 victory over England, Alvaro Pereira felt the brunt of Raheem Sterling's knee to the side of his head.
The Uruguayan left-back was quite clearly out cold for several seconds, prompting medical staff and team doctor Alberto Pan to demand his substitution.
However, Pereira made a huge fuss and insisted he could play on, against Pan's advice. The Sao Paulo star played the remainder of the game, despite showing clear signs of a concussion.
Uruguay's doctor and a separate FIFA medic could have overruled the decision, but they chose not to. This seems extraordinarily negligent and a clear sign that FIFA has no serious concussion protocol.
Perhaps the beautiful game needs to follow the NFL's lead, which is providing a formal process for dealing with head injuries.
18. Letting Javier Mascherano Play on with a Suspected Concussion
Just a few weeks after Pereira's concussion, Javier Mascherano suffered a similar fate in the same stadium during Argentina's semi-final clash with Holland.
The Barcelona star clashed heads with Georginio Wijnaldum in the first half and appeared woozy as he collapsed to the ground. After a cursory examination, he was allowed to play on for the remainder of the game.
Mascherano may have put in an excellent performance, but letting him play on with symptoms of a concussion seems negligent, particularly in light of the negative attention generated by Pereira.
During the final—in which Mascherano was cleared to play—Germany's Christoph Kramer also appeared to suffer a concussion and was allowed to play for a further 14 minutes before he was substituted.
He later admitted to German newspaper Die Welt (translated via 101gg.com) that he was barely able to remember the game.
17. Ezequiel Lavezzi's Nude Photobomb Tweet
Ezequiel Lavezzi was unable to help Argentina secure their third World Cup trophy, but the Paris Saint-Germain winger did manage to make history of sorts: He may have become the first World Cup star to accidentally tweet a nude picture of a teammate.
Lavezzi tweeted out a picture of himself in the dressing room after Argentina's round-of-16 victory over Switzerland. The image was duly removed, however, when the 29-year-old noticed that he had inadvertently broadcast a shot of Pablo Zabaleta taking a shower behind him.
16. Alex Song's Elbow on Mario Mandzukic
At the 2014 World Cup, there seemed to be a directive for referees to give out fewer cards and allow play to flow. However, 10 players saw red, with half of those dismissals coming from serious foul play.
During Cameroon's 4-0 loss to Croatia in Manaus, the Barcelona star put a sour note on a bad result by delivering a Tomahawk elbow to Mario Mandzukic's back.
That error in judgement put Cameroon a man down and earned Song a three-match ban.
15. John Boye's Cash Kiss and Subsequent Own Goal
Typically, it's France who capitulate at a World Cup, but that role was played by Ghana in 2014.
A day after Kevin Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari were sent home in disgrace, Ghana's president John Dramani Mahama sent a private jet loaded with $3 million in cash to the Black Stars' Brasilia hotel to settle a dispute over appearance fees.
This is money that would normally be paid by FIFA after a tournament, but Ghana's players demanded it early.
When the money arrived, the players were given $100,000 bundles. In a picture that surmises everything wrong with the modern game, John Boye was pictured kissing his stack.
The following day, Boye conceded an own goal which inspired a loss to Portugal and ejection from the tournament as the bottom team in Group G.
Money well spent then, Ghana.
14. Joel Campbell's Unfulfilled Penalty Claim Against Italy
In the 43rd minute of Costa Rica's Group D match with Italy, Joel Campbell was charging toward goal before Giorgio Chiellini clumsily kicked him and pushed him to the ground.
The incident looked to be a certain penalty, but Chilean referee Enrique Osses saw no foul. This enraged Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto and Campbell, but ultimately it was to no avail.
Fortunately, the Central American side took only one minute to right this wrong when Bryan Ruiz headed one home.
13. Ian Wright's Bizarre Punishment Suggestion for England Players
Once again, England did not enjoy a good World Cup campaign. In fact, it was the first time the Three Lions failed to clear the group stage since 1958.
The general consensus is that England players do not want to represent their country as much as their patriotic counterparts from, say, the USA.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp stoked the fire when he claimed several English players had asked him to help them shirk international duty. In response to this, The Sun's columnist and former England striker Ian Wright offered a solution (quote via The Independent):
"The next young player who says he does not want to play for England should be ordered to ring the parents of a soldier who has died serving his country in Afghanistan and tell them his reasons."
Aside from the slightly jingoistic comparison of an overpaid athlete not wanting to play football and a war hero, Wright didn't seem to realise that bereaved parents might not want to receive that phone call.
Unsurprisingly, his gauche suggestion was not universally praised.
12. Thiago Silva's Yellow Card Against Colombia
During Brazil's quarter-final clash with Colombia, Thiago Silva earned a yellow card for blocking goalkeeper David Ospina as he tried to take a kick.
It was a very silly challenge for the Selecao captain to make, and it ruled him out of the semi-final match with Germany.
And of course, we all know what happened when Silva wasn't there to hold David Luiz's hand against the eventual champions.
11. Thiago Silva's Return in the Third-Place Playoff Match
Thiago Silva returned from his World Cup suspension in time for the game that absolutely no team wants to be a part of: the third-place playoff.
Just three minutes after returning from his unnecessary ban, the Selecao captain pulled down Arjen Robben as he sprinted toward the goal and conceded a penalty.
Perhaps the biggest blunder in this scenario, however, came from referee Djamel Haimoudi.
The Algerian gave Silva a yellow card, despite the fact that he was the last man and denied Robben a clear goalscoring opportunity. That's a clear red-card offence in anyone's book.
10. The Luis Suarez Bite Tattoo
This hilariously bad excuse for his unacceptable behavior is a blunder in its own right, but perhaps the biggest fail to come from the situation was the fan who had comedy bite marks tattooed on himself with a caption that misspelled the player's name.
9. Fred's World Cup Campaign
Brazil striker Fred didn't win any plaudits for his dismal World Cup campaign, and he announced his retirement from the international game after his side's unsuccessful third-place playoff match.
The 30-year-old was clearly not up to the high standard set by the Selecao's previous generations, a fact that was made clear by his heat map against Germany.
The blunder may lie with Fred himself for failing to make an impact or with now fired coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for selecting him in the first place.
8. The Refereeing During Brazil's Opener with Croatia
The only thing worse than Fred at the 2014 World Cup might have been the decision to award him a penalty in the opening game of the tournament.
Hosts Brazil stumbled through their opener against Croatia, falling behind to an early Marcelo own goal and only going ahead in the 71st minute via a Neymar penalty.
That spot-kick was awarded by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura when Dejan Lovren was deemed to have pulled Fred down in the box. The decision was widely condemned, with the general view being that Fred fell over without any influence from the Southampton defender.
Nishimura also came under fire for only giving Neymar a yellow card when he elbowed Luka Modric in the first half. Many, including Alan Shearer, believed it was worthy of a red.
7. "The Name Is Bond, James Rodriguez"
James Rodriguez was the breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, ably filling the boots of Radamel Falcao to earn the Golden Boot with six goals.
However, the Colombian's success did lead to one of the biggest blunders in print media history — the Times of India headline: "The name is Bond, James Rodriguez."
The headline comes from the fact that the 23-year-old was named after James Bond, but that's no excuse for such hysterically terrible use of the English language.
6. The Referee Keeping His Red Card in His Pocket in the Final
World Cup final referee Nicola Rizzoli didn't put in a vintage performance, with much controversy coming from his call on a challenge between Manuel Neuer and Gonzalo Higuain.
In the 57th minute, the Argentinean went to meet a long ball when the German goalkeeper clattered him in the side of the head with his knee.
Rather than issue the shot-stopper with a red card, however, Rizzoli gave a free-kick against Higuain. The Napoli forward had been well and truly "De Jonged"—and punished in the process.
If Germany had gone down to 10 men and lost the world's best goalkeeper, perhaps they wouldn't have lifted the trophy an hour later.
5. Jermaine Jones' Performance Against Germany
The USA progressed from Group G after a spirited 1-0 loss to Germany in Recife. There were severable notable performances from the Stars and Stripes, but Jermaine Jones stole attention for the wrong reasons: his constant blunders.
In the first half, the Besiktas midfielder went down clutching his face after he ran straight into the referee.
Later in the game, his face came in for more punishment when he used it to "control" a throw-in.
Jones topped off a fine evening of fail in the second half when he ran straight into teammate Alejandro Bedoya, leaving both players collapsed on the floor.
All round, it wasn't a great day at the office for the dreadlocked USMNT star.
4. Giovani Dos Santos' Two Disallowed Goals Against Cameroon
It's not clear what Mexico did to offend Colombian linesman Humberto Clavijo, but he certainly wasn't ruling in their favour in their group stage match with Cameroon.
In the first half, Giovani dos Santos had a potential opener ruled offside, when replays suggested he was in line with the last defender. Then, shortly afterward, a second goal was cancelled out for being offside when it actually fell to Gio from the head of a Cameroonian defender.
Thankfully, justice was done as El Tri emerged 1-0 winners. Clavijo, meanwhile was dropped from the competition after his double blunder.
3. Igor Akinfeev's Gaffe Against South Korea
Fabio Capello may be forced to explain Russia's disappointing World Cup campaign to parliament, so the Italian manager will likely give no thanks to goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
In the 68th minute of Russia's match with fellow underwhelming Group H side South Korea, the CSKA Moscow keeper disastrously parried a Lee Keun-ho shot over his head and into the net.
Substitute Aleksandr Kerzhakov equalised six minutes later, which meant the goalkeeper helped Russia drop a vital two points.
2. Thomas Mueller's Free-Kick Trip
Thomas Mueller enjoyed yet another fantastic World Cup campaign, but he probably won't look back too fondly on the free-kick routine he botched during Germany's 2-1 round-of-16 win over Algeria.
In what was meant to be an elaborate piece of trickery, Bastian Schweinsteiger ran over the dead ball with Mueller following close behind. On his run-up, however, the Bayern Munich forward tripped, putting a dampener on Toni Kroos' subsequent shot.
Germany's five-goal hero admitted the trip was a stunt-gone-wrong, while Kroos was fairly glib in his assessment: "In training it always worked. But it looks like crap when it doesn't work."
1. David Luiz's Performance Against Germany
In their semi-final humiliation against Germany, Brazil didn't exactly perform to the best of their abilities.
The 7-1 defeat appeared to come from a shockingly amateur defensive display: Maicon was ineffective, Marcelo was constantly out of position and Dante couldn't steady the ship in place of Thiago Silva. The most blunder-ridden performance, however, probably came from David Luiz.
The Paris Saint-Germain star was at fault for at least four of the goals, he made numerous aimless passes, he often wandered out of position and probably should have had a red card for elbowing Miroslav Klose.
He neither looked like a Brazil captain nor the world's most expensive defender.