World Cup history is full of great moments. Very few events have the ability to bring people together and force people to face themselves the way sports can.
Iran vs. US-1998
In 1998, French officials heightened security in preparation for the match between Iran and the US. Less than a decade after the Gulf War, relations between the two nations were strained at best. Fear of conflict was palpable. However, fans, coaches and players would go on to stun the world with their sportsmanship throughout the match. Iran beat the US 2-1, but what went down in history was sports victory over politics.
A referee is behind one of the greatest moments of integrity in World Cup history. During the game between Norway and Brazil, Esfandiar Baharmast, a US official, called a controversial penalty in the 88th minute of the match. The score was tied 1-1 and Norway’s conversion dashed Morocco’s hopes of continuing on. After enduring 36 hours of unrelenting criticism, Baharmast’s name was cleared when Sweden released footage that clearly depicted the jersey pull. Even under intense vilification, Baharmast never backed down. He knew what he had seen and he stuck to it.
The game between Cameroon and Argentina was a great victory for Africa. No African team had progressed past the first round before 1990 and no one expected that year to be any different. Cameroon was clearly the underdog as the team stepped up to play Argentina, the reigning champions. Even after losing 2 players to penalty cards, Cameroon held on and beat Argentina. Not only did that team represent their nation well, they honored their entire continent and broke through worldwide prejudice in the process.
Playing without Pele-1962
When a team loses a player the emotional effects on the team can be more devastating to their performance than the actual loss of the player. In 1962, Pele, one of Brazil’s finest players was expected to lead his team to another championship. Unfortunately, a knee injury early in the tournament would keep him off the field for the rest of the season. Despite the setback, Garrincha and the rest of the Brazilian team rallied, remained focused, and went on to win the world cup.
After being banned from soccer for 2 years due to involvement in a match-fixing scandal, Rossi returned as part of the Italian team in 1982. Although initially shaky, Rossi overcame the setback and led Italy to win their third world cup. His key role in Italy’s success quickly overshadowed his previous mistakes. And, in the end, the scandal was virtually forgotten in the shadow of his successful career.
For more great moments in World cup history see: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/998092-50-best-moments-in-world-cup-history or http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/26455673.