10 Incredible World Cup Moments That Took the World by Surprise

By: Alec Donaldson | Last updated: Nov 16, 2023

The World Cup is a tournament held between football teams of various nations; organized by FIFA, it is the biggest sports tournament in the world.

During these tournaments, there are bound to be famous moments that will forever be part of the history of football. Here are ten shocking moments in World Cup history.

Germany, 2006: One Player, Three Yellow Cards

Normally, players must leave the field after getting two yellow cards. Josip Simunic was booked three times during Croatia’s match against Australia. This was the first time this happened in World Cup history. 

Advertisement

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

The referee had first booked Josip in the 61st minute but did not write his name. Simunic was booked again in the 90th minute but wasn’t given the red card. He was finally sent off the field in the 93rd minute.

Spain, 1982: Harald Schumacher and Patrick Battiston’s Collision

Both Germany and France were tied during the semi-final match in Seville. Patrick Battiston was close to the German net, way past their defense. 

Advertisement

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

Keeper Harald Schumacher left his post, and even though Battiston had dribbled the ball past him, Schumacher continued running. He smashed into Battiston at full speed, knocking the Frenchman out.

Mexico, 1986: Maradona's “Hand of God” Goal

The “hand of God”  was a hand goal scored by Argentine footballer Diego Maradona. The goal was scored in the quarterfinal match between Argentina and England. Both teams had not scored any goals in the by 51st minute.

Advertisement

Source: Historyporn/ Reddit

Maradona was close to the ball and punched it into England’s net. Shockingly, the goal was allowed. His handball will forever go down in history as one of the most famous goals ever.

Argentina, 1978: Referee Clive Vs. Player Zico

Referee Clive Thomas discounted Zico’s goal in the opening game between Brazil and Sweden. Both teams had a goal each, and Zico was about to head the ball into the Swedish net for his team’s second goal. 

Advertisement

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

However, the referee believed a player had spent too much time nursing his wounds. He blew his whistle a second after Zico made contact with the ball. The ball entered the net, but it was too late.

Germany, 2006: The Nuremberg Battle

The match between Portugal and the Netherlands in Nuremberg witnessed a World Cup record of sixteen yellow cards and four red cards. 

Source: HowTheyPlay/Pinterest

Referee Valentin Ivanov booked a player for a reckless challenge two minutes after the game started. Besides Khalid Boulahrouz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst, two other players were sent off.

Advertisement

England 1966: A Confusing Goal

This game is known as the most controversial World Cup final win. The host nation, England, played against West Germany at Wembley Stadium. 

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

Both teams had scored two goals each, and eleven minutes into extra time, Geoff Hurst scored a goal. He shot from inside the penalty area, and the ball bounced off the inside of the crossbar and entered the goal line. After a few moments of confusion, England was eventually awarded the goal.

Advertisement

Chile, 1962: Santiago’s Viscious Match

This match was between Italy and Chile, and it took place in Santiago. It became known as the ugliest, most vicious, and disgraceful game of soccer in the history of the World Cup. There was nothing like yellow cards during this period, and the first foul came just 12 seconds into the game. 

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

The referee issued the Italian midfielder the first red card less than a minute into the start of the match. The game witnessed numerous punches and red cards, among other fouls.

Advertisement

USA, 1994: Andres Escobar's Own Goal

There were high expectations for Colombia to go far into the tournament. They even had expectations to win, but it was cut short in Pasadena during a match against the US. 

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

Andres Escobar accidentally kicked the ball into his own net, and Colombia was sent home after failing to move out of their group. Ten days after the match, Andres was shot 12 times with a gun outside a bar in his hometown.

Advertisement

Germany, 2006: Zidane Sgning Out with a Headbutt

The last time Zidane was going to appear on the international stage, he bowed out in style.  Zidane and Materazzi scored in the finals but became involved in one of the World Cup’s most infamous red cards. 

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

After Materazzi’s insults, Zidane headbutted the Italian and was sent off the field. Italy eventually won the World Cup after a 5-3 win in a penalty shootout.

Advertisement

Brazil, 2014: Luis Suarez Bites Giorgio Chiellini

In Italy’s game against Uruguay, defender Giorgio Chiellini experienced Luis Suarez’s teeth on his shoulder. Suarez bit his opponent for the third time in his career. 

Source: HowTheyPlay/ Pinterest

The referee did not see the bite, but after an investigation, Suarez was banned for four months and from nine international matches. He was also asked to pay a fine of almost $92,000.

Advertisement