DRAMA is guaranteed every time the World Cup comes around – and it’s not just down to events on the field.
Every tournament seems to throw up some kind of scandal with the sports betting stakes so high and some nations resorting to desperate measures.
Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable storms to have engulfed the greatest show on earth.
DIEGO’S FALL FROM GRACE, 1994
Diego Maradona’s comeback was the big story heading into USA 94, with the great man’s club career having flatlined since a 15-month ban for taking cocaine. He looked lean and mean in the first game against Greece and memorably screamed into the camera after pinging one into the top corner during that 4-0 win.
Another impressive showing against Nigeria followed only for the watching world to be stunned when the 34-year-old tested positive for the banned substance ephedrine. Maradona accused FIFA of a grand conspiracy but was forced to take his disciplinary medicine and never kicked a ball for Argentina again.
THE DISGRACE OF GIJON, 1982
Algeria were the victims of a cosy carve-up in Spain as West Germany defeated Austria 1-0, a result that saw the near neighbours both progress to the second round. FIFA were as much to blame as the Germans and Austrians, with Algeria playing their final game group game against Chile a day earlier.
That meant Austria knew they only need to avoid defeat by two goals for both nations to go through and a farcical game was played out after Horst Hrubesch’s early opener with an incredible number of passbacks. The furore forced FIFA to change its rules so final group games would take place simultaneously.
STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA, 1978
Argentina’s triumph on home soil was tainted by suspicions the military junta pulled out all the stops to make sure Cesar Luis Menotti’s men came out on top. The biggest scandal centred on their 6-0 victory over Peru in the second round, a result that saw Argentina reach the final instead of Brazil.
A victory by more than four goals was required and former Peruvian senator Genaro Ledesma later claimed the result was fixed between the two governments. The fact Peru keeper Ramon Quiroga was born in Argentina added to the flames for the conspiracy theorists.
LES MISERABLES, 2010
The French players staged a full-on revolt against coach Raymond Domenech as their campaign descended into a farce in South Africa. Nicolas Anelka was told to pack his bags and head home after a foul-mouthed rant at Domenech during the half-time break in their loss to Mexico.
The rest of the squad, led by skipper Patrice Evra, then staged a protest, abandoning a training session to head to the team bus where they issued a statement in support of Anelka. But the French Football Federation backed Domenech and hit every player with a one-game ban after they lost the final match to South Africa.