Famous World Cup Incidents

From injury to equipment theft, there are numerous risks associated with football – just ask those at the very top of the game.

Ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, we look back at some of the most notorious World Cup incidents of all time.


Neymar’s tournament-ending back injury

Hosts Brazil were hot favourites to win the 2014 World Cup, with golden boy Neymar’s imperious form guiding them to the quarter-finals.

However, towards the end of Brazil’s tense, physical clash against Columbia, Neymar received a knee in the back from Juan Zuniga, which fractured his vertebrae.

Cue the agonised scream from Neymar and the forlorn facial expressions of his teammates and the crowd. In this moment, Brazil’s World Cup hopes effectively went up in flames.

They went into their semi-final against Germany without Neymar and their suspended centre-back Thiago Silva and were dumped out of the World Cup in spectacular fashion, succumbing to a crushing 7-1 defeat.

(Had Neymar not been a professional footballer and international superstar, he would have needed Loss of Earnings cover if the injuries he sustained while playing sport stopped him carrying out his day job for more than two weeks.)


Ronaldo’s no-show in the 1998 final

Neymar is not the only Brazilian forward to have suffered a tragic end to their World Cup.

Back in 1998, a young Ronaldo was the star of the tournament as Brazil cruised to the final against hosts France.

When news started to filter through on the day of the final that he would not be playing, this understandably sent shockwaves across the world, with many questioning why Ronaldo had seemingly been dropped for such a crucial game.

Ronaldo had, in fact, a convulsion in his hotel room and was deemed unfit to play by national team coach Mario Zagallo. However, after medical tests failed to reveal any abnormalities, Ronaldo insisted to national team coach Zagallo that he should play.

The decision backfired on Ronaldo, who had a poor game as France ran out 3-0 winners.


Christoph Kramer’s memory loss

Christoph Kramer was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI for Germany as they took on Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final.

Spectators all over the world were wondering if the young, relatively unknown midfielder would seize his chance and etch his name into footballing folklore. The answer was yes – but not for the reason he would have hoped.

Early on in the game, Kramer suffered concussion after colliding with Argentine centre-back Ezequiel Garay. However, he continued to play for another 14 minutes before slumping to the ground.

In the aftermath of the game, referee Nicola Rizzoli revealed that Kramer was so disorientated, he approached him and asked: ‘Ref, is this the final?’.

Kramer’s injury triggered a debate over whether FIFA should allow temporary substitutions, so that a player can be adequately assessed for a head injury.


Harald Schumacher knocks out Patrick Battiston

From one German footballer who fell victim to a cruel injury, to another who well and truly dished one out!

The year was 1982, when Germany and France faced off in an enthralling semi-final in Seville.

On 57 minutes, with the game finely poised at 1-1, French defender Patrick Battiston surged forward after spotting a gap in the German midfield and was picked out with a perfectly weighted through ball from Michel Platini.

Spotting the danger, German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher came racing out of his goal and, rather than change direction or stop dead in his tracks, ploughed into Battiston in mid-air. Battiston suffered two missing teeth, three cracked ribs and a damaged vertebrae but, miraculously, no foul was given.

To add insult to injury, the match went to a penalty shootout after finishing 3-3 in extra-time and Schumacher saved two French spot kicks to send Germany to the final. (We just hope Schumacher had Public Liability in case Battiston made a claim against him!)


The Jules Rimet trophy goes missing

England’s World Cup campaigns haven’t always ended in failure. It’s easy to forget that, once upon a time, they were world champions!

However, Bobby Moore might never have got his hands on the famous Jules Rimet were it not for a moment of quick thinking by a collie dog named Pickles.

Three months before the 1966 World Cup, the trophy was on exhibit at Westminster Central Hall when thieves broke in and stole it from its display cabinet.

In the days that followed, the FA and police desperately searched for the trophy, but to no avail.

A week later, though, David Corbett and his dog Pickles were walking in the Beulah Hill district of southeast London, when Pickles started sniffing at a parcel wrapped in old newspaper lying under the hedge of Corbett’s house.

This parcel was taken to Gypsy Hill police station and identified as the World Cup trophy. It was returned to the FA, the culprit was found and jailed, Pickles became a national hero and the rest, as they say, is history.


Honourable mention: Diana Ross’ shocking penalty miss

While this infamous World Cup moment can hardly be deemed an ‘incident’, we had to include it for its comedy value alone.

Hosting its first ever World Cup in 1994, America pulled out all the stops to show the world that it actually cared about football, recruiting legendary Motown singer Diana Ross to perform at the tournament’s glitzy opening ceremony in Chicago.

However, the ceremony merely set the tone for what was to be a largely hit and miss World Cup.

As part of her routine, Ross was given the relatively straightforward task of scoring a penalty from just a few yards out. Not only that, the goalframe she was aiming at looked considerably bigger than something you’d see on a Sunday league pitch.

Despite all the odds seemingly being stacked in her favour, Ross proceeded to skew her penalty horribly wide. Watch the video above to relieve this iconic moment for yourself.


While our specialist sports insurance doesn’t quite stretch to Neymar or the England national team, it can cover you against most of the incidents listed above.

For example, if you accidentally injure an opponent (which we’d like to hope was the case with Schumacher!), we provide Public Liability to protect you if someone claims against you for their injuries.

We also offer Equipment cover if your equipment is lost, damaged or stolen, and Loss of Earnings cover if injuries you’ve sustained while playing sport mean you can’t work for long periods.

Find out more about our insurance and leave nothing to chance by getting an instant online quote with us today!


(Cover image credit: -ALLIANCE/DPA)

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