Football, Sport

Top 15 most controversial goals in football history [VIDEOS]

Top 15 most controversial goals in football history [VIDEOS]

Football fans love to talk about the greatest moments in football history. Add controversy to those moments, and you have the most controversial goals in football history.

Like everything else, football games have never been perfect from inception. There are moments when you feel like it’s the greatest thing to happen to mankind and other moments when you feel like punching football organisers. Controversial goals are annoying moments in major tournaments, especially the World Cup.

Nevertheless, football is the greatest sport in the world. No controversy can rob us of the thrill and fun we have while watching our footballers manoeuvring the pitch with their skills. With that feeling, let’s look at the most controversial goals in football history.

What is a controversial goal?

When a player scores into the opponent’s net and the goal generates arguments on whether it should stand or not, then it’s called a controversial goal. The goal could be termed an offside, handball, foul that is argued to be a penalty or anything else that the aggrieved team sees as a reason the referee should not allow a goal stand. However, some referees might reverse their decisions by disallowing the goals, while others will allow them to stand.

Top 15 most controversial goals in football history

15. Belgium’s two offside goals against USSR (1986 World Cup)

The 1986 World Cup will always be remembered for England vs Argentina controversy. But Belgium versus the Soviet Union generated a lot of controversies, if not more controversy. It was the quarterfinals, and the Soviets led by two goals to nil. Then the Belgians scored equalisers which should have been fantastic except for one thing – both goals were offside. In fact, the second goal was downright ridiculous when Jan Cuelemans scored about five yards offside in the 77th minute. The crazy part was that the referee allowed the goals. Eventually, Belgium qualified for the next round after beating Soviet Union 4-3 in extra time.

14. Messi’s Hand of God (2007 La Liga)

If there was ever a doubt that Lionel Messi’s mentor is the legendary Diego Maradona, then his “Hand of God” goal against Espanyol in La Liga 2007 should end all doubts. You may think the referee should have known better and disallowed the goal to prevent what happened in the 1986 World Cup from repeating itself. You thought wrong.

ALSO READ: Top 15 best goals in football history [Videos]

13. Obey the Sheik’s command (1982 World Cup)

Middle East country, Kuwait, made a World Cup debut against France in 1982. But the team turned out to be bad losers. France had just scored their fourth goal in the group stage match, and then, Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the president of the country’s football association, decided he couldn’t take it. He stormed the pitch and demanded that the referee disallow the goal. His excuse was that the Kuwait team had stopped playing because they heard a whistle. Well, the referee obeyed the Sheik’s demand and later got suspended.

12. Germany 1990 World Cup final

Argentina had won the previous World Cup and were hoping to win the second one in a row in 1990. As usual, Maradona captained the team, but the controversy wasn’t on him this time around. In a match that many saw as sweet karma against the Argentines and less than entertaining by others, Germany’s Jurgen Klinsmann controversially dived off and rolled around after Pedro Monzon’s challenge. Monzon was sent off, and Germany awarded a penalty. Andreas Brehme scored the penalty to hand Germany the World Cup title.

11. Spain’s penalty against Yugoslavia (1982 World Cup)

Spain hosted the 1982 World Cup, and the team was less than impressive from the beginning. The host faced off against Yugoslavia in the group stage. The Serbians were leading by 1-0, and the referee decided to favour Spain by awarding a penalty for a foul that happened outside the box. To make matters worse, the referee awarded another penalty after Roberto Lopez Ufarte missed the first one. Spain eventually advanced to the second stage after winning 2-1 against Yugoslavia. Talk about officials helping the hosts.

10. Luis Garcia scores “breakthrough goal” for Liverpool (2005 Champions League)

Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 in the 2005 Champions League semi-finals. However, the winning goal was controversial as William Gallas managed to hook Luis Garcia’s shot off the line. However, officials allowed the goal to stand to help the Reds set up one of the greatest UCL finals against AC Milan.

ALSO READ: Top 10 biggest upsets in Premier League history

9. Steffan Kiessling’s “ghost goal” (Bundesliga 2013)

Bayer Leverkusen striker, Steffan Kiessling, headed a corner kick and watched the ball nestle against the side-netting. He held his hand against his head but quickly played along with his teammates after they celebrated his “ghost goal”. The referee allowed it, but that goal remains controversial till this day.

8.  Referee scores in 1986 Turkish League

This is one of the craziest and funniest goals in football history. Besiktas lost 0-1 against Ankaragucu, thanks to referee Atan Hakem’s header. Clearly, this goal should have been disallowed, but it stood! Besiktas eventually lost the Turkish championship with only 1 point.

7. Referee ends Leeds’ title hopes (Premier League final 1971)

Referee Ray Tinkler’s decision to allow West Bromwich Albion’s Jeff Astle’s offside goal ended Leed United’s quest to take the 1971 Premier League trophy home. Colin Suggett had been standing in an offside position when Tony Brown intercepted a pass and raced clear of the Leeds defence. Astle scored the goal despite the linesman raising the flag for an offside. Tinkler allowed it to incur Leed’s fans to this day.

6.  John Eustace “own ghost goal” (Championship 2008)

Watford’s John Eustace scored a controversial own goal that remains one of the strangest goals ever. He had scored Reading’s opener after Stephen Hunt whipped in a corner. The ball bounced off over the line – four yards wide of the goal – before Noel Hunt hooked it back into play. Reading’s Andre Bikey headed back towards the goal, which keeper Scott Loach had saved. But the linesman had already flagged for a goal. The match eventually ended in a 2-2 draw.

5. Thierry Henry’s “Hand of God” against Ireland (2010 World Cup qualifiers)

Thierry Henry is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of his time. However, the Frenchman went “Maradona” on Ireland during extra time to help France qualify for the 2010 World Cup on a 2-1 aggregate. France eventually embarrassed themselves out of the World Cup in South Africa.

ALSO READ: Top 10 promising football talents that flopped

4. Raul’s hand ball against Leeds United (2001 Champions League)

Raul Gonzalez scored a famous handball goal for Real Madrid against Leeds United in the 2001 Champions League. Alan Smith had earlier given the Whites the lead. Raul’s handball eventually helped Los Blancos advance to the next stage on a 3-2 aggregate.

3. Frank Lampard’s “non-goal” (2010 World Cup)

Frank Lampard clearly scored for England against Germany in the 2010 World Cup. But the goal didn’t stand. The officials’ controversial decision triggered a rallying point for advocates of goal-line technology. Germany won the game 4-1 but if Lampard’s goal had been allowed, England would just be 2-goals down with enough time to play.

2. Geoff Hurst “scores” against England (1966 World Cup)

England fans have always seethed against Maradona’s famous “Hand of God” in 1986 but somehow forgot how the Three Lions scored a controversial goal against Germany. It was the 1966 World Cup final between West Germany and England. Geoff Hurst’s attempt didn’t cross the goal line, which was flagged by the linesman, but the referee still allowed it. Watch the goal in colour and judge for yourself. England eventually won the title after beating the Germans 4-2.

1. Maradona’s “Hand of God” against England (1986 World Cup)

Talk about karma; Diego Maradona’s famous “Hand of God” goal will remain the most controversial in football history. The legendary striker profited from Steve Hodge’s wild clearance before clearly punching the ball past an onrushing Peter Shilton. His celebration convinced the officials who allowed the goal to stand and helped Argentina to their second-ever World Cup title.

Which of these controversial goals shocked you most?

ALSO READ: Top 11 biggest upsets in World Cup history

Previous ArticleNext Article
Nonye is a Thespian, screenwriter, creative writer and an unapologetic lover of books, great movies and sports. She has over 10 years experience in content writing on entertainment, movies, sports and lifestyle. Nonye is currently a content writer at Blackdot Media and founder of
Send this to a friend