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Published June 6, 2018

Published a day ago


There are those who think of the World Cup as the sports version of a Marvel summer blockbuster: Consider the super-powered stars, colorful costumes, nick of time heroics and, of course, plenty of villainous activity. Well beyond run-of-the-mill red-card behavior, there are a select, highly egregious moments which live on in the soccer hall of infamy. See for yourself.

BATTLE OF SANTIAGO, 1962Haynes Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images
BATTLE OF SANTIAGO, 1962
Thanks to increasingly inflammatory comments by each country's journalists, tensions were already running high in the lead-up to the match between Italy and host-nation Chile at Estadio Nacional in Santiago. The first foul was committed just 12 seconds into the match by Italy's Giorgio Ferrini, setting the tone for what is regarded by many as the single filthiest match in World Cup history. The 90 unruly minutes were marked by punches, vicious tackles, intentional injuries, two ejections, and on-pitch police intervention. Oh, and Chile won 2-0. TRAGEDY OF SEVILLE, 1982AFP/Getty Images
TRAGEDY OF SEVILLE, 1982
One of the all-time most violent World Cup fouls occurred in the 1982 semi-finals in Seville, Spain. With France's Patrick Battiston on a breakaway, West German keeper Toni Schumacher charged from net and launched himself into the Frenchman with aggressive abandon—and knocked him out cold. Battiston was carried off on a stretcher, and ended up in a coma with a cracked vertebrae. To add insult to injury, no foul was called, Schumacher remained in the game, and the West Germans went on to win on penalties. SPITTING IMAGE, 1990Getty Images
SPITTING IMAGE, 1990
Things got a bit, well, let's be kind and call it "unsavory" between fierce foes West Germany and Netherlands in 1990 when Dutch midfielder, Frank Rijkaard (left) spat in the hair of Rudi Voller after the pair were sent off for an earlier tangle. West Germany ultimately prevailed 2-1 to land a spot in the quarter-finals. LEONARDO'S ELBOW, 1994Bob Thomas/Getty Images
LEONARDO'S ELBOW, 1994
He may have been one of Brazil's most skilled and graceful players, but it's hard not to remember Leonardo more for the brutal, bone-rattling elbow he threw to the head of USA's Tab Ramos in a 1994 group match at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. The blow resulted in a red card (and a whopping four game suspension) for the Brazilian—and a fractured skull for Ramos. TRAGIC MISTAKE, 1994ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images
TRAGIC MISTAKE, 1994
None of the 93,000 fans in the Rose Bowl, or those watching around the world on June 22, 1994 could have possibly known how tragic Andrés Escobar's error really was. The Colombian defender's own goal ended up being the difference in a 2-1 loss to USA and resulted in the nation's early exit from the tournament. Days later, the ramifications tragically turned from the unfortunate to the unthinkable, as the 27-year-old was shot and killed in cold blood upon his return to South America. ROONEY'S STOMP, 2006Alex Livesey/Getty Images
ROONEY'S STOMP, 2006
Zidane's head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final may have earned more instant replays, but England forward Wayne Rooney's purposeful, Neanderthal-ish stomp on the groin of Portugal's Ricardo Carvalho a few rounds earlier was just as ruthless—and far more wince-inducing. The 20-year-old was immediately red-carded and sent off in the 62nd minute — just 11 minutes after teammate David Beckham was taken off with an injury. Portugal would go on to eliminate England on penalties. BATTLE OF NUREMBERG, 2006NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
BATTLE OF NUREMBERG, 2006
It's hard to single-out one moment as the "most vicious" in Portugal's 1-0 win over Netherlands in 2006 — but only because there were so many. Brutal tackles? Check. Headbutts? Check. Wrestling? Check. Injuries? Check. Check. Check. When all was said and done, four players were red-carded and sent off and an astonishing 16 yellow cards were dolled out during the carnage at Nuremberg stadium — the most in any match in World Cup history. ZIDANE'S HEADBUTT, 2006JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images
ZIDANE'S HEADBUTT, 2006
France's Zinedine Zidane will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game, but his career will forever be marred by his actions in the 2006 final against Italy when, late in the match, with the game tied-up, he responded to an insult by Marco Materazzi with the quick and slightly crazy headbutt seen 'round the world. Zidane was red-carded and sent off while the crowd tried to make sense of what had happened; Materazzi picked himself up and, later, went on to convert a penalty kick en route to Italy's fifth World Cup title. ORANGE BELT, 2010Mike Hewitt – FIFA via Getty Images
ORANGE BELT, 2010
Normally, a player would immediately see a red card after a leaping, cleats-up, kung-fu-style kick to an opponent's torso. Referee Howard Webb disagreed, punishing Nigel De Jong (right) with only a yellow card for his violent "tackle" of Xabi Alonso in the first half of Spain's 2010 victory over Netherlands in the World Cup final in South Africa. SUAREZ'S BITE, 2014Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
SUAREZ'S BITE, 2014
A year prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Luis Suarez earned a four-month suspension from all football-related activity after the then-Liverpool striker bit the arm of Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match. But the Mike Tyson-style chomping didn't stop there. In Uruguay's group stage match against Italy, Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini, causing a chaotic scene on the pitch, and massive penalty off it: Suarez was banned for nine international matches, which ruleD him out of the rest of the tournament.

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