FIFA World Cup: 80 years of a tournament with unforgettable sporting moments

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Madrid, May 4 (IANS) The FIFA World Cup, which first kicked off on July 13, 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay with a match between France and Mexico, and was most recently contested 84 years later, when Germany took home the trophy after defeating Argentina at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, has during its 20 editions left an indelible legacy.

In the 30,681 days between these two matches, thousands of good, bad, comic and heroic incidents have occurred, some unforgettable such as the Hand of God goal by Argentina star Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup, or the question of whether Geoff Hurst’s second goal crossed the line against Germany to help England win the 1966 final, reports Efe.

“Under Brazilian law, the maximum sentence is 30 years, but my imprisonment has been for 50 years,” said Brazil goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa of the goal conceded in 1950, 11 minutes before the final whistle of Uruguay’s 2-1 win over the World Cup hosts. Clearly, the memory lingered long after the match, as Barbosa spoke shortly before his death in 2000.

Football has connected people and thrilled millions, but has also been the source of tragedies as well.

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One of the saddest was the murder of Colombia defender Andreas Escobar, who was shot dead allegedly for the own goal he scored in the 1-2 defeat by the United States which eliminated his team in the 1994 competition.

But football has its funny side too, both on and off the field, such as when Brazil’s Manoel dos Santos, best known as Garrincha, who wanted to return a radio he bought while competing at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden because he thought it was broken. He could only hear broadcasts in Swedish, he said.

Keeping success within the family, Germany’s Fritz and Ottmar Walter were the first pair of brothers to take part in a World Cup-winning team when Germany defeated Hungary in 1954, followed by England’s Bobby and Jack Charlton, who won the trophy in 1966.

Argentina’s Mario and Juan Evaristo were within striking distance of winning the 1930 World Cup, but lost to Uruguay, as were the twin Dutch brothers Rene and Willy Van de Kerkhof in 1974 and 1978, as well as Germany’s Bernd and Karlheinz Förster who were runners-up at the 1982 edition.

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Brothers were not always on the same side, however, as maternal half-brothers, Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng played for Germany and Ghana respectively during the 2010 edition held in South Africa, and even faced each other on the field, and they did so again four years later in Brazil.

Jerome and Kevin-Prince were the first brothers to go head-to-head at the World Cup, joining a long list of firsts at the tournament, such as Peru’s Mario de las Casas, who at the 1930 edition was the first player ever to be sent off, although there were no cards at the time.

Uruguay’s Jose Batista was the fastest to be sent off, just 55 seconds into his clash with Scotland in 1986.

It was so fast that a member of Uruguay’s coaching team said to him in the locker room, “How did they send you off if they are still playing the anthems?

The list of firsts has some truly bright moments, such as in the 1958 edition held in Sweden, which witnessed the first appearance for Pele at just 17 years old. He led Brazil to become the first team from the Americas to secure the title in Europe.

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This was also the first World Cup to be televised, and saw France’s Just Fontaine scoring 13 goals, a record that still stands, while the tournament also recorded the first 0-0 draw in its history when England and Brazil failed to score.

The 1982 edition featured the first match to be resolved on a penalty shootout, after Germany and France played to a 3-3 draw. Germany, however, prevailed 5-4 from the 12-yard spot.

From first timers to the records list, which includes Brazil as the most decorated national team with five World Cup trophies in its possession and Germany’s Miroslav Klose as the all-time top scorer, netting a total of 16 goals over all the editions in which he took part.

At 43 years old, Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest player to take part in a World Cup in the 2014 edition, while Mexico’s Antonio Carvajal, Germany’s Lothar Matthaus and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon are the players with the most appearances in the tournament, tied at 25.

–IANS

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