It’s a facet of the game that’s been blighting World Cups for a lot longer than you’d think; PETE SPENCER explains as we reach number 5 of his Top 10 World Cup moments list…
The two instances which get this vote are equally as childish and pathetic. In 2002 in South Korea, Brazil were leading Turkey thanks to a late Rivaldo penalty. Deep into injury time, Rivaldo was preparing to take a corner. The ball was only yards from him but he seemed to be waiting for someone to give it to him. Turkish midfielder, Hakan Ursan, was clearly fed-up with these tactics so he went over and kicked the ball at Rivaldo. The revered Brazilian went down like a sack of spuds, holding his face. But replays soon revealed the sinister truth.
The ball had simply hit Rivaldo on the thigh, yet he went down holding his face to fool the referee into delaying the game further. For poor old Ursan, it meant a second yellow card and an immediate ban. After the game, FIFA was so incensed they fined Rivaldo £4,500. They didn’t do anything about Ursan’s red card, though.
The second incident in this rogue’s gallery is Slaven Bilic. Bilic was a likeable guy, then playing his football at Everton. This was the Semi-Final of France ’98, where Croatia met France. The French were leading and with time ticking away they had a free-kick in an attacking position. As the ball was played in, Bilic grabbed hold of Laurent Blanc’s shirt. In an effort to extricate himself, Blanc put his hand to Bilic’s chest to push him away. The Croatian went down holding his face as if he’d been punched. Again, television revealed the full extent of Bilic’s performance.
Blanc’s hand had been nowhere near Bilic’s face but the referee was conned, Blanc was sent-off and duly missed the Final. For the 32-year old he’d been cheated out the only chance his one chance at a Final.