5 biggest controversies in UEFA Euro history

By Shyam
6 Min Read
UEFA Europa League

The European Championships have a long history filled with contentious events. In this article, we will learn about the five biggest Euro controversies in competition’s history.

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The greatest footballing nations on the continent are celebrated during the European Championships. However, uniting Europe’s finest can also inspire its worst. Every amazing feat of ability is accompanied by an undercurrent of disagreement that frequently lasts longer.

Even though the Euros are not nearly as old as the World Cup, the continental competition started 30 years after the first international competition. Each tournament has been marred by contentious events.

Tension is increased by the countries’ close proximity, which inevitably sets bitter rivals and neighbours against one another.

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Unrest among the fans, questionable officiating, and footballing firsts that have been contested for decades have all occurred. These are a few of the most contentious events that have ever occurred during the Euros.

5. Italy Cry Foul Play – 22nd June 2004

In Italian football, the idea of a prearranged outcome that benefits both teams is so prevalent that it has its own term: biscotto, which refers to a biscuit that is enjoyed by both sides.

After his Italy team lost in the Euro 2004 group stage, Gianluigi Buffon led the charge of foul play. “Someone should be ashamed, and it’s not us,” he sniffed.

Despite having identical final points totals of five, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy advanced because of their superior head-to-head goal differential.

Also Read: Top 10 highest goalscorers in Euro qualifying history

Conveniently, Denmark and Sweden tied 2-2 in their last group match to advance both teams at Italy’s cost. All the countries claimed innocence, but Italian Football Federation President Franco Carraro felt there was “no doubt” that the outcome was predetermined.

4. Basile Boli Headbutts Stuart Pearce – 14th June 1992

The ideal player to accept a severe headbutt was Stuart Pearce, the notorious English left-back known as “Psycho.” In the Euro 1992 group stage, Pearce was struck by French centre-back Basile Boli during a goalless draw.

Even though Sandor Puhl is regarded as one of the greatest referees in football history, he was blind to the vicious play that left Pearce with a bleeding cheek.

Taking matters into his own hands, the English defender accused his opposite winger, not Boli, of the attack in an attempt “to put him on the back foot,” according to Pearce. “He was busy for the next 20 minutes denying it was him.”

3. England Fans Storm Wembley – 11th July 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Euro 2020 final was rescheduled for the following summer, and it had the potential to be one of the greatest nights in English football history.

Instead, the defeat to Italy through a penalty shootout was referred to as a “day of national shame” and was viewed as a kindness.

Before the main event, thousands of ticketless fans flocked to Wembley Stadium with the intention of using the 25,000 seats that were still unoccupied because of COVID-19 restrictions.

In Baroness Casey’s harsh analysis of the situation, the aisles were crowded with “drunken and drugged up thugs” who had stormed the turnstiles and abused police officers and volunteers. The study said that an England victory would have sparked “horrific” reactions. In any case, it was already quite awful.

2. Wim Kieft Breaks Irish Hearts – 18th June 1988

While a win was necessary for the Netherlands to go to the Euro 1988 semi-finals, a draw would have allowed Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland to advance.

Eight minutes later, Wim Kieft nodded a feeble header towards goal, and they were about to create history. The ball landed outside the six-yard line, but goalie Packie Bonner was caught off guard when it sprang in a sharp dog-leg left turn.

The location of Dutch striker Marco van Basten appears to be the reason why the goal should never have stood, according to replays. Kieft concurred. He then said, “Van Basten was offside, Definitely offside.”

Since the Irish federation lacked the resources to support a prolonged stay in West Germany, they were relieved rather than incensed.

1. Ronald Koeman Sullies German Shirt21st June 1988

The Netherlands’ 2-1 victory over their hosts West Germany in the Euro 1988 semi-finals was arguably the most emotionally charged triumph in the history of the country’s football team.

Germany’s five-year occupation of the Netherlands during World War II was rekindled by a passionate rivalry stoked by their painful loss to their neighbours in the 1974 World Cup final.

Also Read: Top 10 highest goalscorers in Euro history

In the semifinal, Ronald Koeman pulled one back for the opposition, but Marco van Basten beat Eike Immel with a goal in the 88th minute. Though Koeman overdid the celebrations, the whole Dutch nation burst into joy.

The blonde defender traded clothes with Olaf Thon of West Germany, only to stage an embarrassing backside wipe in front of the visiting supporters, leaving a lasting impression of this rivalry’s ugliness.

By Shyam
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Shyam Sharma who joined SPORTS BIG NEWS in 2021. Focuses on soccer – chiefly the Premier League, LaLiga, UEFA Champions League, Liga MX and MLS. On occasion, also covers American sports, general news and entertainment. Fascinated by the language of sport – particularly the under-appreciated art of translating cliché-speak.