Eighty years, 18 World Cups, a million memories
Maybe it was the heat. But 1994 was a year for rag-losing, nut-doing and violent meltdowns…
Maradona’s potty celebrations – and doping shameThe Argentine demigod really was a very naughty boy throughout his playing days, but his nadir surely came at USA 94. It looked like he’d recaptured some old magic when he scored against Greece in the opening game, only for the world to collectively ponder “What’s he on?!” after witnessing his celebratory boggle-eyed yelling into the camera.
We soon found out: he was on five different sorts of the stimulant ephedrine. Maradona was disqualified, later arguing that his failed doping test was the result of his trainer giving him the wrong sort of energy drink. Cheat or not, it was a sad end to a truly great World Cup career.
Leonardo gives Ramos the elbowBrazilian left-back Leonardo didn’t take kindly to fleet-footed American winger Tab Ramos attempting to bamboozle him with a back-heel: he twisted and delivered a vicious elbow into the side of Ramos’ face, fracturing his cheekbone.
As his victim flopped on the floor like a fish out of water, the ref steamed in with a red card and everyone else enjoyed a mini-festival of referee-surrounding and Latin gesturing. Ramos spent three months in hospital; Leonardo was banned for four World Cup games and later apologised to Ramos, claiming it had been “an accident”.
Tassotti elbows Luis EnriqueAnother shocker: Spanish forward Enrique lost more than a pint of blood after getting on the wrong end of Italian defender Mauro Tassotti’s elbow. The foul went unpunished during the game despite Enrique’s wild protestations.
The Italian eventually received a retrospective eight-game ban, but the Spaniard held a grudge for much longer than that: in 2008 he called for his nation to ‘take revenge’ for him on Italy. “I would love it,” he said, “and Spain has the advantage this time, because Tassotti is not playing!” Indeed.
Etcheverry off in four minutesWhat do you expect from a man nicknamed ‘El Diablo’? Sickeningly violent mayhem, that’s what, and Marco Etcheverry delivered just that in the opening game of USA 94 at Soldier Field. Returning from injury, the man regarded as Bolivia’s best-ever player came on with 11 minutes left on the clock and his side trailing 1-0.
Immediately enraged by a shove from Lothar Matthaus, he kicked out at the German and was dismissed. “I’m sorry for Bolivia,” he said afterwards. “If I did kick him, it’s part of the game.” The side finished bottom of their group, and Etcheverry later gained a reputation for aggro at DC United, as he hacked and butted his way through the MLS.
Effenberg gives fans the fingerIt’s not just Barry Ferguson who gets himself into trouble with childish hand gestures. Stefan Effenberg was caught out ‘flicking the bird’ to German fans after being subbed in their game against South Korea.
His side had let a three-goal lead slip to 3-2, and manager Bertie Vogts replaced Effenberg with Thomas Helmer. Barracked by some supporters as he trudged along the sidelines, Effenberg lost the plot and replied with a middle-fingered salute. His reward was a ticket home, and Vogts responded by saying: “for as long as I’m coaching the team, he will not play for Germany again.”
'Psycho' Zola gets short shriftGianfranco Zola only ever played one World Cup game in his career: the second round of USA 94 against Nigeria, in which he was sent off after just a few minutes for, well, nothing much at all – the official completely misjudged an ordinary tackle.
“My thoughts were all directed to the referee, and they weren’t very nice thoughts, actually,” the unlikely hatchet-man told FourFourTwo about his reaction. Zola was banned for the next two games, dropped for the final and retired from international football just before the 1998 tournament. A shame.
Divine miss, Ross Oprah Winfrey was the compere and US President Bill Clinton was in attendance (vice-president Al Gore was at the closing ceremony), but the opening ceremony at Chicago’s Soldier Field will forever be remembered for one guest: Diana Ross, who missed an open goal from two yards out.
At the end of her performance, the Motown legend, resplendent in what appeared to be a bright red shell suit, was supposed to slam home a penalty but hooked her shot wide. The goal was supposed to split in half as ball went in, and did so anyway, despite the spooned sitter. While an audience of billions laughed, an embarrassed Ross turned the colour of her scarlet two-piece.
Coke scandal hits World Cup, offends millionsMcDonald’s and Coca-Cola had a cunning plan: to print the flags of all the participating nations on their products. But it backfired when Saudi Arabia complained that printing their flag – which features the Islamic declaration of faith – on disposable bags and drinks cans was an insult to all Muslims. The offending products were quickly and quietly discontinued.
No pay, no playCameroon’s bid for World Cup glory was thrown into disarray when, two days before their group match against Brazil, the Indomitable Lions players refused to continue in the tournament unless they were paid what was promised by the Cameroonian FA. Despite receiving their match fees in a suitcase packed with $450,000, the players hardly appeared inspired – they went on to lose 3-0 to Brazil and 6-1 to Russia.
Much Aldo about one-nothingWith the Republic of Ireland a goal down to Mexico in their crucial group match, manager Jack Charlton was keen to introduce mustachioed frontman John Aldridge into the fray. He was foiled, however, by over-officious FIFA goon Mustafa Fahmy, who refused to allow the striker on leading to a red-faced shouty exchange with Charlton and Aldridge.
After a six-minute wrangle, Aldo finally trotted onto the pitch, barely breaking stride to flick a few victory signs in Fahmy’s direction, before scoring the goal that secured the Republic’s place in the second round.
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