Top Five World Cup Troll Moments

Luis Suarez arguing with the referee during a Uruguay match

The moments that provided a comic relief 

Football is a serious thing. Bill Shankly even went as far as to say that “it’s more serious than life and death.” It makes us angry, sad, and nervous. But it also makes us happy and can even make us laugh. It’s entertainment – under different circumstances, the players, coaches, referees, and everyone involved could’ve been your next-door neighbor. Combine that with the stress of a concentrated month of international football with literally everyone on the globe watching, and you get a roll call of hilarious moments. This is our pick of five historical favorites.

5. Batshuayi makes fun of himself, 2018

The previous tournament held in Russia was the first in which social media played a huge part. It was there in 2010 and 2014 as well, but on a much smaller scale, and much less players active on Instagram and Twitter. Michy Batshuayi is a great presenter of this generation of player. No stranger to social media banter, the Belgian isn’t reluctant to make himself the centerpiece of it. Attempting to celebrate his teammate’s goal in the match for 3rd place against England, Batshuayi kicked the ball hard at the post and into his face in what is remembered to be one of the funniest moments of the 2018 World Cup. The striker is not the one to miss out on an opportunity for some engagement, and followed up with two spot-on tweets.

Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter

4. Zaire’s free kick incident, 1974

Zaire’s (now known as DR Congo) only appearance in a World Cup was in 1974, in a trio of performances not exactly remembered for their footballing brilliance. Late in their final game against Brazil, Zaire defender Mwepu Ilunga did this ahead of a Selecao free-kick:

In a period with much less abundant pre-tournament information, it was not yet known that the reason behind Zaire’s bad showings (they lost 0-2 to Scotland and 0-9 to Yugoslavia in the first two games) was terrible preparation, combined with player frustration with the fact that the participation funds from FIFA had been redirected to their home country, then ruled by a notorious dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who used football as a political tool. The incident is funny, the reasons behind it aren’t, but it was a pure trolling moment against corrupt, cynical leadership. Praise be.

3. Rivaldo takes to theater, 2002

Neymar’s performance in the 2018 World Cup will be remembered mainly for his impressive dives. But with respect, he simply stood on the shoulders of his giant predecessors, specifically Rivaldo. In the remarkable 2002 winning campaign, Brazil had it all: talent, a Ronaldo haircut to be remembered, great form, and redemption following the previous World Cup. Maybe that helps us forgive some of their funnier moments which less exemplified the spirit of fair play. One such moment came late in their group stage match, with a Turkish defender trying to rush the striker to resume the game by kicking the ball fiercely at him. 

It hit Rivaldo in the knee, probably not even hurting him, but that didn’t prevent him from falling to the ground and catching his face as if he just got struck by Mike Tyson. On top of all this, the mockery resulted in the referee sending the Turkish defender a second yellow card. 

2. Luis Suarez plays goalkeeper against Ghana, 2010

The Uruguayan striker is the epitome of a troll in the body of a world-class footballer, for whom all means are allowed to achieve victory. During a dramatic quarter-final match against Ghana, his deliberate handball on the goalline denied the Black Stars victory and a first-ever African qualification for the semis. Suarez acted on instincts, making a match watched by billions look like it was a neighborhood five-a-side game, and didn’t even bother arguing when he was sent off.

1. Argentina’s alleged holy water, 1990

You know the first rule they teach you before going to a rave: never take water from someone you don’t know? The same applies to taking water from your fiercest rivals, a lesson Branco may have learned the hard way. Brazil and Argentina met in the Round of 16 of the 1990 World Cup in a game that started with clear superiority from the Selecao. All this changed during an injury break when an Argentinian physio handed the left-back much-needed water in the scorching Turin heat. Branco later said that he began feeling dizzy after drinking from the bottle, and in the 81st minute Maradona began a typical run past three players in yellow, Branco among them, passing cleverly to Cannigia, who finished it with the game-winning goal. 

Of course, you didn’t have to be doped to get out-dribbled by Maradona. But the Argentinian legend was as big-mouthed as he was skilled. In a TV interview, he flat-out admitted that they had special water bottles prepared for their opponents, and he didn’t seem to regret it or think there was any wrong-doing. If it’s true, more than 30 years on, after the standard disclaimer that it’s completely unethical, we can also admit that it was shithousery of the highest level. 

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