Top 10 Dirtiest Moments in World Cup History

Here at Merton Group we supply a wide range of cleaning products and love keeping things clean. However, the same can’t be said throughout the history of the World Cup. To tie in with our World Cup Spot the Ball Competition, we have compiled a list of what we believe are the dirtiest and most shocking moments in World Cup history, make sure to check back for our honourable mentions once the group stages are finished.

Lineker Poos His Pants

Italia 90

England V Ireland

Yes you read that right! Lineker has admitted that he was caught short during a game when he tried to make a tackle and stretched a bit too far, he has quoted “I stretched and then relaxed myself…It was messy, it just came out”. Lineker can laugh about it now “It was the most horrendous experience of my life, but I tell you I never found so much space in a game than I did that night after that happened”.  We are not surprised there were no volunteers for man marking Lineker after that happened.

Schumacher collision with Battiston

1982 Spain

West Germany V France

This one makes for ugly watching, a long through ball leads both Battiston and Schumacher (West German goalkeeper) to sprint towards the ball. Battiston reaches the ball first and flicks it past the advancing Schumacher who then leaps into the air and collides with Battiston as the ball sails past the post. Battiston lost two teeth and had three cracked ribs, he received oxygen on the pitch and was taken to a local hospital. Shockingly the referee didn’t even give a foul, so Schumacher continued by taking a goal kick and West Germany went onto win the match on penalties.

Gazza Sheds A Tear

Italia 90

England V Germany

The moment the nation fell in love with “Gazza”. The country was swept up in World Cup fever as England were in a semi final against old enemies Germany. Gascoigne was putting in a marvellous performance controlling the game, then the ball ran away from him and he overstretched into a challenge, in his own words he recalls the moment “To this day I honestly don’t think I touched him, but down he went rolling around as if in agony”. The ref brandished a yellow card to Gazza which would rule him out of the final if England got there. It was at this moment the realisation sunk in and the bottom lip began to wobble. Gary Lineker stood close to Gascoigne saw how distraught he was and was caught on camera turning to manager Bobby Robson to ask him to have a word and get his head right. Ultimately England went on to lose in penalties, shock right, so the yellow card didn’t matter.

Rivaldo at the Oscar’s

2002 South Korea/Japan

Brazil V Turkey

This one is embarrassing to watch, to set the scene Brazil are leading 2-1 against Turkey, it is in the final minutes of the game and Brazil have a corner. Trying to waste as much time as possible Rivaldo is stood at the corner flag and isn’t making any effort to retrieve the ball to take the corner. Up steps Turkish player Unsal, who had already been booked, in frustration he kicked the ball to Rivaldo striking him about kneecap level, but Rivaldo crumples to the floor holding his face. This dramatic performance got Unsal sent off and Brazil went on to win the World Cup.

Maradona’s Hand of God

1986 Mexico

Argentina V England

This incident needs no explaining, but its World Cup time so we may as well relive the pain again! Its England V Argentina in the quarter final of the 1986 World Cup. Six minutes into the second half a ball was hooked into the England penalty area, as Peter Shilton emerged to push it clear, Maradona beat him to the punch, literally, by using his hand to guide the ball into the back of the net. In the aftermath he claimed that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”, which is how it is now known.

Zinedine Zidane headbutts Marco Materazzi

2006 Germany

France V Italy

This incident lead to one of the most iconic photographs in World Cup history. In the final of the World Cup in 2006 Italy and France are locked at 1-1 in extra time. Zinedine Zidane is playing his last ever match as a player, and with all the great moments he has achieved throughout his career, this moment of madness might go down as the most famous. Jogging past Italian defender Marco Materazzi, Zidane leans into his chest and headbutts Materazzi, he is then sent off and has to walk off the pitch passing the World Cup trophy only inches away, this created one of the most memorable images in World Cup history.

Frank Rijkaard Spits at Rudi Voller

Italia 90

Netherlands V Germany

Famous quotes such as ‘when Holland faced Germany it was always problematic’, give you an idea of the intensity of this rivalry, and it all came to a head at Italia 90. Things were already heated and Rijkaard took Umbridge to one particular foul Voller made and stamped on his foot, this led to the referee sending off both Rijkaard and a very confused Voller. As they were both making their way off the pitch Rijkaard lurking in the background spat down Vollers back. Voller who would have been forgiven an angry reaction decided to be the bigger man and jogged past Rijkaard on the way back to the dressing room without even acknowledgement.

Luis Suarez’s handball

2010 South Africa

Uruguay V Ghana

Luis Suarez could feature on this list numerous times but we have chosen to include this moment which lead to Ghana being eliminated from the World Cup being held in Africa. In the Quarter final match between Uruguay and Ghana, the sides were deadlocked, in the dying moments Ghana thought they had scored but Luis Suarez prevented the goal with his hand (later claiming to now own the hand of God), this resulted in a penalty to Ghana and Suarez being sent off, Ghana then missed the penalty which delighted Suarez and he could be been seen celebrating and skipping down the tunnel and Uruguay went through on penalties.

The Dirtiest Final In History

South Africa 2010

Holland V Spain

Finally England had a representative in the final of the World Cup, and it’s a game that I am sure will live long in the memory of Howard Webb. Spain would go onto win the World Cup 1-0 AET but this wasn’t the story. Spain received a £6,050 fine after being shown 5 yellow cards during the match. Holland received a £9,075 fine for eight bookings and one sending off. The worst tackle of the fiery match was a Kung Fu like kick on Xabi Alonso from Nigel De Jong as seen in the video.

Beckham Becomes Public Enemy Number 1

France 1998

England V Argentina

In contrast to Gazza, this is the moment the nation turned on David Beckham. England were playing Argentina in the round of 16, Michael Owen had raced onto the scene with a superb goal that has been played over and over yet this game is still remembered for the Beckham Simeone incident. Beckham went down under a heavy challenge from Simeone, Beckham then stupidly flicks his leg out and catches Simeone who goes down like he was shot, the result a red card for Beckham and England losing out on penalties. Simeone has since admitted that he tried to get Beckham sent off. Back home the aftermath was very heated and Beckham was the blamed for England’s defeat suffering years of abuse from football fans and even the media with the daily mirror describing the England team as “10 Heroic Lions, One Stupid Boy”. This story would come full circle four years later when Beckham would avenge the defeat by scoring a penalty in a 1-0 over Argentina which knocked them out of the tournament.

There we have it, we hope you enjoyed our look back at some of the most controversial and dirtiest moments in World Cup history. At Merton Group we are hoping for a clean tournament. See you for part 2, our honourable mentions after the group stages and we hope to see England there too!


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