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International Football: Top 10 Controversial Moments of Last 10 Years

Ned HarwoodContributor IIIAugust 6, 2011

International Football: Top 10 Controversial Moments of Last 10 Years

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    Tired of reading the same old transfer rumors and 2011 predictions? You have come to the right place. The place where you can relive the most controversial moments of International football of the last 10 years. From the Battle of Nuremberg to Henry's "Hand of God," all the most contentious moments of the last decade have been put into one place for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Honorable Mention

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    Sol Campbell's Denied Heroics- England defender Sol Campbell seemed to send England into the Euro 2004 semifinals after heading in a rebound goal, but the goal was denied due to a weak foul by John Terry. England went on to lose in penalty kicks.

    Tevez's Offsides- At the 2010 World Cup, Carlos Tevez scored a significant goal against Mexico despite standing more than a yard offside when he received the ball. The goal gave Argentina the lead, one that they would not give up the rest of the game. 

    French Failure- The French national team cheated the football world after a disastrous display of discipline at the 2010 World Cup. The team finished dead last in Group A and scored merely one goal the entire tournament. 

10. Simunic's Three Lives

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    Josip Simunic is the only player in FIFA World Cup history to have three lives when it comes to yellow cards. During a group game against Australia in 2006, Simunic received his first yellow card in the 61st minute for a harsh foul on Harry Kewell. In the 90th minute he was shown yet another yellow card, but was not dismissed despite it being required after a second booking. He later received a third yellow card and finally a red card for pushing referee Graham Poll after the match. Although Poll's lack of addition did not cost Australia the game, it did place FIFA in a defensive position and sparked multiple “What If” media questions if the result had gone the other way. 

9. USMNT: The Phantom Foul

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    It was this controversial call that prevented one of the most amazing comebacks in World Cup history. The US went down 2-0 in the first half to Slovenia, but fought back miraculously and would have won the game off a Maurice Edu header if it weren’t for referee Koman Coulibaly.

    Coulibaly waved off what seemed to be a pure US goal for a phantom foul, a foul that he refused to explain to the players after the incident. Many questioned Coulibaly's credibility and accused the Malian of taking a bribe before the match. However, we shouldn’t complain too much about this controversy, as it did make room for one of the most thrilling moments in American sports history. 

8. Lampard: Lack of Instant Replay

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    There was a lot of discussion leading up to the 2010 World Cup on whether or not FIFA should install goal line technology for the important event. However, there was real strong consensus for GLT in England after human error cost the nation a goal and momentum against Germany in the second round. Frank Lampard hit a blistering strike over German keeper Manuel Neuer that despite clearly passing the line, was not awarded by the linesman or referee. The goal would have tied the game up at 2, and given England tons of momentum heading into halftime. Should FIFA rely more on technology and less on humans? Frank Lampard sure thinks so. 

7. Battle of Nuremberg

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    Frankonstadion will forever be remembered for the battle that took place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The Battle of Nuremberg between Portugal and Holland set discipline records and left fans wondering what had gotten into referee Valentin Ivanov. Ivanov issued 16 yellow cards (tied for WC record) and four red cards (WC record) throughout the course of the game and made multiple controversial calls in the match.

    For example, Luis Figo received merely a yellow card for head-butting Mark Van Bommel in the 60th minute, an action that almost always results in a red card. It was evident that Ivanov lost control of the game very early, and could only dream of leaving the scene un-plagued by controversy. 

6. The Rooney Red

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    As England patiently awaits a trip back to the World Cup semifinals, they can mourn how close they actually were in 2006. Just two years after being eliminated by Portugal in the Euro 2004 quarterfinals, England was in the prime position to seek revenge at the World Cup.

    In the 62nd minute with the game deadlocked at zero, Wayne Rooney got in a heated 50-50 battle that ended with the young forward stepping on Carvalho’s groin area and then getting ejected. However, if you look at the video, the referee doesn’t seem to be upset with Rooney until he pushes Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo out of the way (an offense that if by itself, would certainly deserve no more than a yellow). England lost in penalty kicks and still has yet to make it back to the World Cup semifinals. 

5. Suarez's Desperate Measures

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    You can’t have a list of soccer controversies and not feature the name, Luis Suarez. Although Suarez’s moment of infamy did not include any poor referee decisions or bad calls, he did singlehandedly prevent Ghana from advancing to the World Cup semifinals. His actions were deemed unacceptable by millions of fans, who also cried for a life-ban from the World Cup and a game replay. Whether you think Suarez’s actions were justified is for another time, but you have to agree that his desperate tactics were certainly controversial. 

4. Qatar 2022 World Cup Selection

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    If Qatar does indeed host the 2022 World Cup, the games will forever be tainted by the controversial selection process. Though perceived as long-shots for the 2022 bid, Qatar somehow managed to win over the FIFA selection committee despite the significant risks of their bid (Dangerous heat, lack of stadiums, lack of development). The general consensus across the globe was that the already corrupt FIFA members had received a little extra cash for their vote, thus resulting in the massive selection upset that denied the US their second World Cup.  

    Since the vote, Mohammed Bin Hamman (the main leader behind the Qatari campaign) has been permanently banned by FIFA for bribery allegations and there have been multiple whistleblowers stating that the vote was rigged.

    The words Qatar and controversy just can’t seem to stay away from each other. 

3. The Hand of Henry

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    The moment where one man turned villain to four million people. Two little hand taps of the ball were enough to destroy Ireland’s hopes of playing in the World Cup final and outraged the Football Association of Ireland enough to file a complaint. The FAI demanded a replay of the game due to the lack of quality refereeing, but FIFA denied the demand on account of the laws of the game. We will never know how the World Cup would have been different if Henry hadn’t gotten away with his five fingered discount. 

2. Zidane's Headbutt

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    No matter what Zidane accomplished in his unbelievable career, he will always partially be remembered for controversially head-butting Marco Materazzi in extra time of the 2006 World Cup final. Zidane’s ejection however was not what made this moment so controversial in the eyes of French fans. It is that the referee was nowhere near the pair when the incident happened. Materazzi could have very easily said things worthy of a yellow or even a red card, which would have changed the game completely. However, since the referee only saw the retaliator proudly standing over a surely dying Italian, he had no choice but to send Zidane off and diminish France’s hopes of another World Cup title. 

1. South Korea's Suspicious Success

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    South Korea’s controversial road to the World Cup semifinal on home turf most definitely deserves the number one spot. Korea Republic headed into the tournament ranked 40th in the world yet defeated teams such as Portugal (5), Italy (6), Spain (8) with ease on their road to fourth place. Of course, many believe that their miraculous semifinal run was not exactly honest in terms of refereeing. Every close call, whether it was an offsides or a foul, seemed to go the hometown Korean’s way, who were accused of being favored by FIFA in an attempt to keep the local fans interested.

    The referee for South Korea’s controversial victory over Italy, Byron Moreno, was suspended 20 games after the World Cup for a completely separate incident in which he called for six minutes of stoppage time and then let the clock run for 13 minutes in order for a team to score a game tying and winning goal.

    The referee of South Korea’s Spain victory was also rumored to have received a car from FIFA VP Chung Mong-Joon for “favoring the home team” in the World Cup quarterfinals. 

    The list goes on.

    Some think that South Korea was simply feeding off the home crowd during their tremendous World Cup campaign. The rest of the world thinks otherwise. To develop your own opinion, I suggest you take a look at the video to your left. Controversial? It was way more than that. 

    Follow me @RBStampede on Twitter. 

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