Poor officiating at Brazil-Croatia opener (June 12)
The opening and closing games of any tournament are meant to be the showpiece events. The 2014 World Cup opener between Brazil vs. Croatia in Sao Paulo was soured by poor officiating. The hosts won 3-1, but with twenty minutes left and the scores level, referee Yuichi Nishimura awarded a penalty for Dejan Lovren’s pull on Fred. Lovren was less than pleased, he said: "This referee should not be at this World Cup, It wasn't a mistake, it was a scandal." Sadly, this was the beginning of what was to come at the tournament: Poor officiating.
Pepe headbutts Thomas Muller (June 16)
The Portuguese defender is known for being a bit hot-headed at times, and his temper got him in trouble again in the opening Group G match. His adversary this time was Germany’s Thomas Muller. The defender’s arm caught the lanky German’s face during a battle to win the ball and Muller hit the ground grimacing. Incensed at what he considered playacting, he then pushed his head into Mullers face and received a red card for his troubles. The Real Madrid player was banned for one game and fined €12,300. Portugal lost to Germany and exited the tournament at the group stage.
AFP/Getty ImagesPATRIK STOLLARZ
Spain crash out of World Cup (June 18)
Despite boasting some of the grandest names in the game -- Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas -- Spain became just the latest defending champs to crash and burn at the group stage. Other champions have crashed out of the World Cup; France in 2002, Italy in both 1950 and 2010. Even Brazil stumbled in 1966 -- but of course, that was in the days before the expanded tournament we have today. But no champion to date had flamed out in such spectacular fashion.
Action ImagesCraig Brough
Match-fixing allegations cloud Cameroon's World Cup campaign (June 23)
Cameroon's World Cup got off to a sour start after players refused to board a plane to Brazil due after a long-running dispute over bonus payments. Fortunes failed to improve in Brazil, as The Indomitable Lions finished dead last in Group A after defeats to Mexico, Croatia and Brazil, respectively. The loss to Croatia, in particular, raised eyebrows after convicted fraudster Wilson Raj Perumal predicted the correct result vs. Croatia and prompted Cameroon's football federation to investigate its players over alleged match-fixing.
AFP/Getty ImagesEVARISTO SA
Luis Suarez bites Giorgio Chiellini (June 24)
Possibly the standout moment of the World Cup, and one of the most disgraceful of all-time, Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez decided to sink his teeth into Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during their Group D match in Brazil. Referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez didn't see the act, but subsequent action was taken by FIFA to ban Suarez from all soccer activities for four months. Cue hilarious memes, vines, tweets and shocking Suarez tattoos. The incident really leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
Getty ImagesMatthias Hangst
Nigeria teammate breaks Michael Babatunde's arm (June 25)
In what must be the most unfortunate way to sustain an injury, Babatunde’s broken arm in the group match vs. Argentina has got to be at the top of the list. After Ogenyi Onazi’s vicious shot was hit goalwards, he seemed pretty annoyed that Babatunde had unintentionally blocked the effort... until he realized he snapped his forearm with the force of the shot! The sickening slow-motion replays showed the full impact, with Babatunde’s arm sent flailing in the most unnatural way. Hopefully all has been forgiven in what looked like a genuine accident.
Getty ImagesPaul Gilham
Ghana send stars home from World Cup for disciplinary reasons (June 26)
Being paired in the World Cup's "Group of Death" isn't the most ideal of situations. Telling your best players to leave during middle of the tournament isn't, either. But that's exactly what happened when Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng were dismissed after reported spats over player bonuses. As a result, Ghana crashed out of the World Cup after falling to Portugal 2-1 in its Group G group match finale.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben admits to diving (June 29)
Robben admitted to diving in Netherland’s Round of 16 victory over Mexico after El Tri manager Miguel Herrera accused him of cheating. Robben denied diving to win the decisive penalty, saying, “That one was a penalty, but the other in the first half was a dive. I must apologize.” Unfortunately for the Dutch star his reputation precedes him. Referees failed to put a foot down during the tournament and as a result, players took advantage. The experienced and crafty wingers got away with the lenient calls. Robben took most of the criticism, though diving in general stained an otherwise successful World Cup on the pitch.
AFP/Getty ImagesYURI CORTEZ
Neymar knocked out of the World Cup, Brazil crumble to Germany (July 4)
The entire host nation of Brazil winced at the exact moment Juan Camilo Zuniga clattered through the back of its hero. Neymar cried out immediately to signal the extent of the blow. The fractured vertebra ruled him out of the tournament and set the stage for the embarrassment to come against Germany in the semifinals. And the rest is history.
AFP/Getty ImagesODD ANDERSEN
Javier Mascherano's embarrassing injury vs. Netherlands (July 9)
Following Argentina’s semifinal victory over the Netherlands, Mascherano revealed that he “tore his anus” while making a heroic last-minute tackle to deny Arjen Robben's attempt on goal. The moment must have been unimaginably bittersweet for the Argentinian; On one hand, he sustained an extremely painful and embarrassing injury; on the other, he secured Argentina a place in their first World Cup for 24 years. Poor Masche!