It’s okay to admit it. When it comes to World Cup games, sometimes the bad moments are more exciting than the good ones. A head butt on the field or an irresponsible tackle will leave us yelling, cringing, or even cheering — as long as it’s the other team that receives the red card. These eleven fouls were so shocking that they took the spotlight from the goals scored in their respective games and are still some of the most talked-about moments in World Cup history.
1. Schumacher’s collision with Battiston in 1982 is widely regarded as the worst foul of any World Cup. Somehow, the referee called a goal kick for Germany after the French defender suffered a temporary coma, a damaged spine, and a few missing teeth.
2. After receiving an insult from Marco Meterazzi, French football hero Zidane head butted the Italian defender to the ground. But there’s no need to feel too bad for Metarazzi. He used this incident to his advantage by starring in a parody of the 1996 foul for a Nike commercial.
3. During this Brazil-United States face-off in 1994, Brazil’s Leonardo took down Tad Ramos with an elbow to the face. The video doesn’t display the severity of the foul that resulted in multiple skull fractures and months in the hospital for Ramos.
4. Portugal and Holland are equally responsible for making this game of the 2006 World Cup memorable, though the strict referee shares some of the blame. This match broke the record for number of red cards given in one game (4) and tied the record of 16 minor fouls.
5. After Argentina’s Claudio Caniggia took the ball past two Cameroon defenders, Benjamin Massing chose to disregard the rules of football in a blatant foul against Caniggia. The red card flew up almost as fast as Caniggia’s shoe after the reckless tackle.
6. BBC Reporter David Coleman’s introduction to this 1962 game clip says it all. “The game you’re about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game.” Mario Sanchez and David Coleman’s punching and kicking are only part of the reason that this Italy-Chile game is now referred to as the “Battle of Santiago.”
7. This “foul” was called when Hakan Unsal of Turkey kicked a ball at Rivaldo who was preparing for a corner kick. Though the ball hits Rivaldo’s chest, the Brazilian quickly grabbed his head and fell to the ground, resulting in a red card for Unsal.
8. In 1990, after getting called for a bad tackle on Voller, Rijkaard spat in his German opponent’s hair. Both players were soon expelled from the game after another confrontation.
9. In 1998, English soccer stud David Beckham kicked Diego Simeone in a game against Argentina and received the red card he deserved. Even David Beckham makes mistakes.
10. After a challenge on Gordon Strachan of Sweden in 1986, Uruguay’s Jose Batista was thrown out in the first minute, making this the quickest red card in World Cup history.
11. In this year’s World Cup, Tim Cahill of Australia was removed from his team’s first game for a foul against Germany. The referee might have been too harsh on Cahill who cried to the press afterwards and asked FIFA to be lenient with his punishment.