Between the institutional corruption, human rights violations, and general skeeviness that tends to surround FIFA and the World Cup, it’s often difficult to remember that, on some occasions, there are on-the-pitch controversies and scandals that happen in the world of soccer.
It’s not all fixed bidding and awarding tournaments based on insane air conditioning schemes to allow soccer to be played in the summers of Qatar – it’s also flare guns and a Russian keeper getting laser-pointed at a critical juncture in a match. The GIF from that article is pretty priceless, by the way.
Watching the group stages break down the way they have, it’s tempting to think of all the ways the games could be tweaked to nefarious ends — even if the referees have nothing to do with it. Speaking of referees, anyone that thinks that a league like the NBA is in need of better officials needs to watch the World Cup. It’s kind of hilarious, given the advent of goal-line technology and high-definition cameras (even the last World Cup, from just four years ago, looks awful compared to the broadcasts from Brazil) that so many suspect calls and non-calls can still be made.
Here, then, are the seven incidents that spring to mind first when it comes to pitch impropriety. They’re fantastic, and even if you don’t dig soccer/football, you can still use them to rain on someone’s parade in a pinch.