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316

The World Cup’s Five Biggest Controversies

Nov 18, 2022
Weird World
-
23
minutes

The FIFA World Cup is full of controversy, on and off the pitch.

In this episode, we look at five of the most controversial episodes in World Cup history and finish up with five interesting facts about the world's most popular football tournament.

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[00:00:04] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and this episode is going to be released on November 18th.

[00:00:27] Why am I saying this?

[00:00:29] Well, if you’re a football fan, you probably know what’s happening this weekend.

[00:00:34] This Sunday, at Al Bayt Stadium, about 35km north of Doha in Qatar, will see the start of the next Fifa World Cup, the most highly-anticipated footballing competition in the world. 

[00:00:48] It’s where the world’s best footballing nations go head to head.

[00:00:53] National pride is at stake.

[00:00:55] And there’s glory to be won.

[00:00:58] But over the years World Cups have also been home to some serious controversy and scandal.

[00:01:05] So, in this episode we will be looking at five of the most controversial events of World Cup history. 

[00:01:12] From misbehaviour on the pitch through to murder off it, the next 20 minutes will involve politics, war and corruption. Oh, and we’ll also have time for 5 weird and wonderful facts at the end of this episode. OK then, let’s get into it and talk about the most controversial events in the history of the World Cup.

[00:01:37] We will start with one of the game’s most gifted players, but also one of its most controversial - an Argentinian named Diego Maradona.

[00:01:47] Maradona is, simply put, one of the most iconic players in footballing history.

[00:01:54] To many, he is the single greatest footballer of all time.

[00:01:58] To others, he is the sport’s most infamous cheat.

[00:02:03] So, why is he so divisive?

[00:02:06] Well, if you’d like to learn more about this man and you haven’t listened to episode number 146 yet, then you can listen to that afterwards.

[00:02:15] But as far as the World Cup is concerned, there is one match that perfectly captures the enigma that Maradona was - part villain, part genius.

[00:02:27] It was the 22nd of June 1986, in Mexico City.

[00:02:33] Over 110,000 people were packed into the Azteca Stadium to watch the World Cup quarter final between England and Maradona’s Argentina.

[00:02:45] After a goalless first half, six minutes into the second half of the match Argentina were on the attack.

[00:02:54] Advancing close to the England goal, the ball was kicked high in the air towards the England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton.

[00:03:02] Shilton was 1 meter 83 tall, and towered over Maradona, who was just 1 meter 65.

[00:03:11] With such a big height difference, as well as the fact that goalkeepers are allowed, of course, to use their hands, it should have been a routine catch for the English goalkeeper. 

[00:03:23] But as the ball was about to drop into his hands, Maradona jumped up, hung in the air, and the ball ended up in the back of England’s net.

[00:03:34] Maradona turned and began to celebrate, while furious England players pleaded with the referee.

[00:03:42] How had the tiny Argentinian managed to outjump Shilton for the header?

[00:03:49] TV replays revealed that Maradona hadn’t headed the ball, as was first assumed, but punched the ball into the goal with his hand.

[00:04:00] The referee, who didn’t have a clear view of the incident, saw nothing wrong and awarded the goal.

[00:04:08] 1-0 to Argentina.

[00:04:11] It was, as Maradona would say after the match, a goal scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”

[00:04:21] Still furious about Maradona’s cheating, minutes later the England players and fans could do nothing as the little Argentinian dribbled around almost the entire England team and scored what is widely considered to be the greatest goal in the history of football.

[00:04:38] Within the space of a few minutes, the world had seen the two sides of Diego Maradona - the villain and the genius.

[00:04:48] Argentina went on to win the match 2-1 and England were knocked out of the World Cup, and Maradona led Argentina to win the tournament, cementing his status as the best - and most controversial - player in world football.

[00:05:04] Our next World Cup controversy also involves a South American player, but this, sadly, ends in tragedy.

[00:05:13] On the 22nd of June, Colombia played the United States in a group stage match of the 1994 World Cup.

[00:05:21] The Colombian team had performed well in the build-up to the tournament, and expectations were high.

[00:05:29] Andrés Escobar, a talented defender known as ‘The Gentleman of Football”, was expected to lead the Colombian team to the latter stages of the tournament.

[00:05:40] But in the first half of the match against the Americans, Escobar accidentally scored an own goal, he scored a goal for the United States, not for Colombia. Colombia went on to lose the match, and were eliminated in the group stage of the tournament.

[00:05:57] There was some surprise and inevitable disappointment after the country's most dependable player made such a mistake, but that’s football, right?

[00:06:07] These things happen.

[00:06:09] Most people would shrug it off and put such an event down to bad luck, but for some people back home in Colombia it wasn’t that simple.

[00:06:20] After all of the hope and expectation surrounding the Colombian team was lost, for some Escobar’s own goal was not only about football, but it became a matter of life and death.

[00:06:34] When Escobar returned to his hometown of Medellin a few weeks later, he tried to forget all about his mistake and went to a nightclub to blow off some steam with his friends, to have some fun.

[00:06:48] Unfortunately for him, some people hadn’t forgotten about it.

[00:06:54] Outside the club, a group of men confronted Escobar.

[00:06:59] One pulled out a pistol and shot Escobar six times. 

[00:07:05] Witnesses claimed that the shooter shouted “goal” each time he pulled the trigger, for each time he was shot. 

[00:07:14] 45 minutes later, Andrés Escobar, Colombia’s best known footballer - the ‘gentleman of football’ - died in hospital at the age of just 27.

[00:07:25] But who was the shooter?

[00:07:28] Was he simply a deranged football fan who took his revenge on the man he blamed for Colombia’s early exit from the tournament?

[00:07:36] Not quite.

[00:07:38] The following evening, when police arrested the gunman, it came to light, or was revealed, that the truth was much darker than that.

[00:07:48] The alleged shooter, a man named Humberto Castro Muñoz, was a bodyguard for the Gallon brothers, two powerful drug traffickers, or ‘narcos’ as they were known. 

[00:08:00] So why was Escobar killed?

[00:08:04] The Gallon brothers, who were betting on Colombia’s World Cup matches, lost a huge amount of money after Escobar’s own-goal.

[00:08:12] Police believed the brothers had ordered Escobar’s execution in revenge for his own goal, and decided that Muñoz was the man to do it.

[00:08:22] OK, moving on to our next controversy, controversy number 3, and this takes us, in fact, to the Middle East.

[00:08:31] At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Kuwait made its only World Cup appearance and it was one of the strangest - and most controversial - in World Cup history.

[00:08:44] In one of their group stage games, the Kuwaitis quickly found themselves losing to a powerful French team.

[00:08:51] More and more goals went in, and things were beginning to get a little embarrassing.

[00:08:58] But then, in the middle of the game, the Kuwait players simply stopped playing.

[00:09:05] As they stood still, the French midfielder Alain Giresse scored a fourth goal for France, taking it to 4-1.

[00:09:15] The Kuwaiti players claimed that they had heard a whistle from the crowd and confused it for the referee’s. 

[00:09:24] With the Kuwait team refusing to play or restart the match, confusion filled the stadium.

[00:09:31] Had the referee blown his whistle? Should the goal be allowed?

[00:09:35] The players and coaches protested to the referee, and looked desperately up into the stands.

[00:09:42] They were gesturing and communicating with someone watching the game.

[00:09:47] But who was it?

[00:09:50] Then, a man wearing a traditional white robe and red headscarf stood up.

[00:09:56] Incredibly, he gestured for the players to leave the pitch, he signalled for them to get off.

[00:10:03] After more confusion, the man signalled that he was coming down to the pitch.

[00:10:10] The man was Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti Prince but also a key figure in the Kuwaiti football association.

[00:10:20] He made his way down from the stands.

[00:10:22] Again, he ordered all his players off the pitch, and argued furiously with the referee and officials.

[00:10:31] Incredibly, the Soviet referee, Miroslav Stupar disallowed the goal, the first and only time a spectator changed the decision of a referee in World Cup, and perhaps footballing history.

[00:10:46] It didn’t make a whole lot of difference, though, and France still went on to win 4-1. 

[00:10:52] Kuwait’s short lived World Cup experience was over, Prince Fahid was given a large fine, and the referee, Miroslav Stupar, was banned from refereeing. 

[00:11:04] OK, controversy number four. This is a more recent one, involving France again, and I imagine it's one that many of you might remember watching live.

[00:11:16] The 2006 World Cup, which was held in Germany, was the swansong, or last performance, of one of the game’s greatest players.

[00:11:26] Zinedine Zidane, a Frenchman who played most of his career in Italy and Spain, was one of world football’s true icons.

[00:11:35] He was known for his grace and intelligence on the pitch, and after a highly successful club and international career, the world of football tuned in to watch the last game of Zidane’s long and illustrious career on the 9th of July 2006 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

[00:11:55] France versus Italy, in the World Cup final. 

[00:11:59] The stage was set for Zidane to end his playing career in glory.

[00:12:04] He had been the standout player of not just the French team, but the entire tournament, and had captained France all the way to the final.

[00:12:14] He started the game well, drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd, and in the 7th minute he put the French 1-0 up with a goal from the penalty spot.

[00:12:26] But the Italians equaled in the 19th minute with a header from defender Marco Materazzi, and the game grew more and more tense.

[00:12:36] Zidane dominated the game, almost scoring another, but neither team could score the winning goal and the game went to extra time.

[00:12:45] The anticipation for what felt like Zidane’s inevitable triumph was growing.

[00:12:51] But then something absolutely jaw-dropping happened.

[00:12:55] Something that left the entire football world speechless.

[00:13:00] In the 109th minute of the game, the game’s two goalscorers, Zidane and Materazzi, began jostling, fighting for the ball.

[00:13:11] After Materazzi pulled on Zidane's shirt, Zidane set off running to help his team defend the goal. 

[00:13:19] But Materazzi shouted something to him, Zidane stopped, and turned.

[00:13:25] Drawing back his head, he stepped forward and head butted Matarazzi firmly in the chest.

[00:13:33] The Italian dropped to the floor, and his teammates cried out, trying to get the referee’s attention. 

[00:13:41] After checking with his assistant, the referee gave Zidane a red card, he sent him off the pitch.

[00:13:48] The football world watched in shock as Zinedine Zidane walked closely past the trophy everyone thought he had been destined to win.

[00:13:57] As you may remember, Italy went on to win 5-3 on penalties.

[00:14:03] The dream ending to Zidane’s career, and French hopes of another World Cup triumph, were thrown away in a moment of madness.

[00:14:12] So, what did Materazzi say to Zidane to provoke him so?

[00:14:16] Zidane has never confirmed publicly what it was but many believe it was something incredibly insulting about Zidane’s family. In 2020, Materazzi said in an interview that Zidane had told him 'I'll give you my shirt later', to which Materazzi replied that "he'd rather have his sister than his shirt."

[00:14:39] Some football journalists have even claimed that the Italian coach, Marcello Lippi, who was Zidane’s manager at Juventus when the Frenchman was playing in Italy, had some dirt, some secret, about his private life, and told Materazzi to use it against him.

[00:14:56] Whatever it was, clearly it was offensive enough to have provoked such a reaction from one of the world’s most successful footballing professionals.

[00:15:05] Now, our final World Cup controversy is another one involving France and Italy, but for this one we need to go back decades, to 1938. 

[00:15:17] I imagine even our older listeners might not have been around to watch this one live.

[00:15:22] But if you know anything about European history, you will know that the late-1930s were tense times politically across Europe.

[00:15:31] Italy, ruled by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, had been using sports, in particular football, to promote its ideology and project a sense of Italian nationalism at home and abroad.

[00:15:45] Italy had won the previous 1934 World Cup, which was hosted in Italy, but was dogged by accusations of bribery and match-fixing.

[00:15:56] With Mussolini siding with the fascists in the Spanish Civil War and anti-fascist resistance bubbling across Europe, the Italians arrival in France in 1938 came at a tense time of anti-Italian and anti-fascist sentiment

[00:16:13] The Italians, on the other hand, were keen to prove their doubters wrong and show the world that they had won the last World Cup without any backroom deals, or corruption.

[00:16:25] When the Italian squad came to Marseille, 3,000 people took to the streets to protest against the team, the regime it represented, and the political ideology it was playing on behalf of. 

[00:16:39] As you have probably guessed, this World Cup controversy was much more symbolic than a handball or a headbutt

[00:16:47] In such politically charged times, the results of football matches were viewed as political wins and losses.

[00:16:55] Now, as you will likely know, both France and Italy traditionally play in blue. When they play each other, clearly they can’t both play in blue, as that would be confusing. 

[00:17:08] One team, normally the “away” team, needs to wear a different colour.

[00:17:13] So when they were drawn against one another in the quarter finals of the tournament on June 12th, France, as hosts, kept their blue kit and Italy were told to wear an alternative white kit. 

[00:17:28] But sensing the chance to make a political statement, Mussolini ordered his team to wear black - the symbol of his fascist paramilitary organisation - and the team gave the fascist salute before the match kicked off. 

[00:17:45] There was a furious reaction from the French crowd, but their team could do little to stop the Italians on the pitch. 

[00:17:53] Italy won the match 3-1 and went on to win the tournament, not only defending its World Cup crown but inflaming political tensions just months before the outbreak of war in Europe.

[00:18:07] On that day in 1938, the match had taken on political significance and became about much more than football - it wasn’t simply two teams, but two ideologies battling on the pitch.

[00:18:20] In fact, and here is some trivia for you, the 1938 World Cup was the last to be held before the outbreak of the Second World War, and as a result of their back to back victories in 1934 and 1938, the Italians were the World Champions until 1950 - a grand total of 16 years. 

[00:18:42] Now, before we finish, here are five interesting bits of World Cup trivia, or facts, for you.

[00:18:49] Our first fact is that the first FIFA World Cup was not held in Italy or France or Brazil or Germany, or any other football powerhouse as you might expect, but in the small South American country of Uruguay all the way back in 1930. 

[00:19:07] And as many of you know, the World Cup is not just a sporting event but a cultural celebration. As a result, fans, especially England fans, tend to enjoy themselves. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for example, a staggering 750,000 litres of beer were sold in stadiums. With Qatar’s strict laws on alcohol consumption, it will be interesting to see how fans manage this year…

[00:19:37] Trivia point number three is to do with the World Cup’s popularity. Now, you probably know the World Cup is popular, but quite how popular might surprise you. At the last World Cup, the 2018 World Cup in Russia, over half of the world’s population, a total of 3.572 billion people, tuned in to watch. 

[00:20:02] Now, fun fact number 4 doesn’t involve people, but dogs. Specifically, a dog named Pickles. 

[00:20:11] In 1966, the World Cup trophy, known as the Jules Rimet trophy, was stolen.

[00:20:18] Where had it gone? How was it possible that the World Cup trophy, supposedly under strict security, could be stolen?

[00:20:26] Fortunately, a few days later a dog walker called David Corbett found a strange looking package while walking his dog Pickles. Opening it up, Corbett was amazed that he was holding the World Cup in his hands.

[00:20:43] Many people in England say Pickles was good luck, because 1966 was the first - and only - time that England has won the World Cup.

[00:20:54] Finally, many of you may know that the 2022 World Cup is already causing some controversy before the starting whistle has even been blown.

[00:21:04] The 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the first held in the Arab World, and the first to be held during the winter, a big change as World Cups are usually held in the summertime.

[00:21:17] This is due to the intense summer heat in Qatar, and as a result each stadium will be entirely air conditioned. 

[00:21:26] FIFA, the international football body, and Qatar, a country that has never qualified for a World Cup itself, have been widely accused of bribery and corruption during the selection process.

[00:21:38] And sadly, the Qatar World Cup is controversial not just for corruption, but also for the use of slave labour.

[00:21:47] Reports have suggested that as many as 7,000 workers have died trying to build the facilities and stadiums for the event. 

[00:21:57] So, whatever happens this winter, whoever wins the tournament, one thing is for sure: like all World Cups, there’s sure to be some controversy - both on and off the pitch.

[00:22:13] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on World Cup controversies. Whether you are a die-hard football fan and you’ll be watching every match, or you couldn’t even explain the offside rule, I hope it was a fun one, and that you learned something new.

[00:22:28] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:22:32] Can you remember any of the incidents we talked about today?

[00:22:35] What other controversies didn’t we include but you can remember?

[00:22:39] And what do you think about the Qatar World Cup?

[00:22:43] What do you think about England’s chances even?

[00:22:45] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:22:49] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:22:57] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:02] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

Continue learning

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[00:00:04] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and this episode is going to be released on November 18th.

[00:00:27] Why am I saying this?

[00:00:29] Well, if you’re a football fan, you probably know what’s happening this weekend.

[00:00:34] This Sunday, at Al Bayt Stadium, about 35km north of Doha in Qatar, will see the start of the next Fifa World Cup, the most highly-anticipated footballing competition in the world. 

[00:00:48] It’s where the world’s best footballing nations go head to head.

[00:00:53] National pride is at stake.

[00:00:55] And there’s glory to be won.

[00:00:58] But over the years World Cups have also been home to some serious controversy and scandal.

[00:01:05] So, in this episode we will be looking at five of the most controversial events of World Cup history. 

[00:01:12] From misbehaviour on the pitch through to murder off it, the next 20 minutes will involve politics, war and corruption. Oh, and we’ll also have time for 5 weird and wonderful facts at the end of this episode. OK then, let’s get into it and talk about the most controversial events in the history of the World Cup.

[00:01:37] We will start with one of the game’s most gifted players, but also one of its most controversial - an Argentinian named Diego Maradona.

[00:01:47] Maradona is, simply put, one of the most iconic players in footballing history.

[00:01:54] To many, he is the single greatest footballer of all time.

[00:01:58] To others, he is the sport’s most infamous cheat.

[00:02:03] So, why is he so divisive?

[00:02:06] Well, if you’d like to learn more about this man and you haven’t listened to episode number 146 yet, then you can listen to that afterwards.

[00:02:15] But as far as the World Cup is concerned, there is one match that perfectly captures the enigma that Maradona was - part villain, part genius.

[00:02:27] It was the 22nd of June 1986, in Mexico City.

[00:02:33] Over 110,000 people were packed into the Azteca Stadium to watch the World Cup quarter final between England and Maradona’s Argentina.

[00:02:45] After a goalless first half, six minutes into the second half of the match Argentina were on the attack.

[00:02:54] Advancing close to the England goal, the ball was kicked high in the air towards the England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton.

[00:03:02] Shilton was 1 meter 83 tall, and towered over Maradona, who was just 1 meter 65.

[00:03:11] With such a big height difference, as well as the fact that goalkeepers are allowed, of course, to use their hands, it should have been a routine catch for the English goalkeeper. 

[00:03:23] But as the ball was about to drop into his hands, Maradona jumped up, hung in the air, and the ball ended up in the back of England’s net.

[00:03:34] Maradona turned and began to celebrate, while furious England players pleaded with the referee.

[00:03:42] How had the tiny Argentinian managed to outjump Shilton for the header?

[00:03:49] TV replays revealed that Maradona hadn’t headed the ball, as was first assumed, but punched the ball into the goal with his hand.

[00:04:00] The referee, who didn’t have a clear view of the incident, saw nothing wrong and awarded the goal.

[00:04:08] 1-0 to Argentina.

[00:04:11] It was, as Maradona would say after the match, a goal scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”

[00:04:21] Still furious about Maradona’s cheating, minutes later the England players and fans could do nothing as the little Argentinian dribbled around almost the entire England team and scored what is widely considered to be the greatest goal in the history of football.

[00:04:38] Within the space of a few minutes, the world had seen the two sides of Diego Maradona - the villain and the genius.

[00:04:48] Argentina went on to win the match 2-1 and England were knocked out of the World Cup, and Maradona led Argentina to win the tournament, cementing his status as the best - and most controversial - player in world football.

[00:05:04] Our next World Cup controversy also involves a South American player, but this, sadly, ends in tragedy.

[00:05:13] On the 22nd of June, Colombia played the United States in a group stage match of the 1994 World Cup.

[00:05:21] The Colombian team had performed well in the build-up to the tournament, and expectations were high.

[00:05:29] Andrés Escobar, a talented defender known as ‘The Gentleman of Football”, was expected to lead the Colombian team to the latter stages of the tournament.

[00:05:40] But in the first half of the match against the Americans, Escobar accidentally scored an own goal, he scored a goal for the United States, not for Colombia. Colombia went on to lose the match, and were eliminated in the group stage of the tournament.

[00:05:57] There was some surprise and inevitable disappointment after the country's most dependable player made such a mistake, but that’s football, right?

[00:06:07] These things happen.

[00:06:09] Most people would shrug it off and put such an event down to bad luck, but for some people back home in Colombia it wasn’t that simple.

[00:06:20] After all of the hope and expectation surrounding the Colombian team was lost, for some Escobar’s own goal was not only about football, but it became a matter of life and death.

[00:06:34] When Escobar returned to his hometown of Medellin a few weeks later, he tried to forget all about his mistake and went to a nightclub to blow off some steam with his friends, to have some fun.

[00:06:48] Unfortunately for him, some people hadn’t forgotten about it.

[00:06:54] Outside the club, a group of men confronted Escobar.

[00:06:59] One pulled out a pistol and shot Escobar six times. 

[00:07:05] Witnesses claimed that the shooter shouted “goal” each time he pulled the trigger, for each time he was shot. 

[00:07:14] 45 minutes later, Andrés Escobar, Colombia’s best known footballer - the ‘gentleman of football’ - died in hospital at the age of just 27.

[00:07:25] But who was the shooter?

[00:07:28] Was he simply a deranged football fan who took his revenge on the man he blamed for Colombia’s early exit from the tournament?

[00:07:36] Not quite.

[00:07:38] The following evening, when police arrested the gunman, it came to light, or was revealed, that the truth was much darker than that.

[00:07:48] The alleged shooter, a man named Humberto Castro Muñoz, was a bodyguard for the Gallon brothers, two powerful drug traffickers, or ‘narcos’ as they were known. 

[00:08:00] So why was Escobar killed?

[00:08:04] The Gallon brothers, who were betting on Colombia’s World Cup matches, lost a huge amount of money after Escobar’s own-goal.

[00:08:12] Police believed the brothers had ordered Escobar’s execution in revenge for his own goal, and decided that Muñoz was the man to do it.

[00:08:22] OK, moving on to our next controversy, controversy number 3, and this takes us, in fact, to the Middle East.

[00:08:31] At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Kuwait made its only World Cup appearance and it was one of the strangest - and most controversial - in World Cup history.

[00:08:44] In one of their group stage games, the Kuwaitis quickly found themselves losing to a powerful French team.

[00:08:51] More and more goals went in, and things were beginning to get a little embarrassing.

[00:08:58] But then, in the middle of the game, the Kuwait players simply stopped playing.

[00:09:05] As they stood still, the French midfielder Alain Giresse scored a fourth goal for France, taking it to 4-1.

[00:09:15] The Kuwaiti players claimed that they had heard a whistle from the crowd and confused it for the referee’s. 

[00:09:24] With the Kuwait team refusing to play or restart the match, confusion filled the stadium.

[00:09:31] Had the referee blown his whistle? Should the goal be allowed?

[00:09:35] The players and coaches protested to the referee, and looked desperately up into the stands.

[00:09:42] They were gesturing and communicating with someone watching the game.

[00:09:47] But who was it?

[00:09:50] Then, a man wearing a traditional white robe and red headscarf stood up.

[00:09:56] Incredibly, he gestured for the players to leave the pitch, he signalled for them to get off.

[00:10:03] After more confusion, the man signalled that he was coming down to the pitch.

[00:10:10] The man was Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti Prince but also a key figure in the Kuwaiti football association.

[00:10:20] He made his way down from the stands.

[00:10:22] Again, he ordered all his players off the pitch, and argued furiously with the referee and officials.

[00:10:31] Incredibly, the Soviet referee, Miroslav Stupar disallowed the goal, the first and only time a spectator changed the decision of a referee in World Cup, and perhaps footballing history.

[00:10:46] It didn’t make a whole lot of difference, though, and France still went on to win 4-1. 

[00:10:52] Kuwait’s short lived World Cup experience was over, Prince Fahid was given a large fine, and the referee, Miroslav Stupar, was banned from refereeing. 

[00:11:04] OK, controversy number four. This is a more recent one, involving France again, and I imagine it's one that many of you might remember watching live.

[00:11:16] The 2006 World Cup, which was held in Germany, was the swansong, or last performance, of one of the game’s greatest players.

[00:11:26] Zinedine Zidane, a Frenchman who played most of his career in Italy and Spain, was one of world football’s true icons.

[00:11:35] He was known for his grace and intelligence on the pitch, and after a highly successful club and international career, the world of football tuned in to watch the last game of Zidane’s long and illustrious career on the 9th of July 2006 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

[00:11:55] France versus Italy, in the World Cup final. 

[00:11:59] The stage was set for Zidane to end his playing career in glory.

[00:12:04] He had been the standout player of not just the French team, but the entire tournament, and had captained France all the way to the final.

[00:12:14] He started the game well, drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd, and in the 7th minute he put the French 1-0 up with a goal from the penalty spot.

[00:12:26] But the Italians equaled in the 19th minute with a header from defender Marco Materazzi, and the game grew more and more tense.

[00:12:36] Zidane dominated the game, almost scoring another, but neither team could score the winning goal and the game went to extra time.

[00:12:45] The anticipation for what felt like Zidane’s inevitable triumph was growing.

[00:12:51] But then something absolutely jaw-dropping happened.

[00:12:55] Something that left the entire football world speechless.

[00:13:00] In the 109th minute of the game, the game’s two goalscorers, Zidane and Materazzi, began jostling, fighting for the ball.

[00:13:11] After Materazzi pulled on Zidane's shirt, Zidane set off running to help his team defend the goal. 

[00:13:19] But Materazzi shouted something to him, Zidane stopped, and turned.

[00:13:25] Drawing back his head, he stepped forward and head butted Matarazzi firmly in the chest.

[00:13:33] The Italian dropped to the floor, and his teammates cried out, trying to get the referee’s attention. 

[00:13:41] After checking with his assistant, the referee gave Zidane a red card, he sent him off the pitch.

[00:13:48] The football world watched in shock as Zinedine Zidane walked closely past the trophy everyone thought he had been destined to win.

[00:13:57] As you may remember, Italy went on to win 5-3 on penalties.

[00:14:03] The dream ending to Zidane’s career, and French hopes of another World Cup triumph, were thrown away in a moment of madness.

[00:14:12] So, what did Materazzi say to Zidane to provoke him so?

[00:14:16] Zidane has never confirmed publicly what it was but many believe it was something incredibly insulting about Zidane’s family. In 2020, Materazzi said in an interview that Zidane had told him 'I'll give you my shirt later', to which Materazzi replied that "he'd rather have his sister than his shirt."

[00:14:39] Some football journalists have even claimed that the Italian coach, Marcello Lippi, who was Zidane’s manager at Juventus when the Frenchman was playing in Italy, had some dirt, some secret, about his private life, and told Materazzi to use it against him.

[00:14:56] Whatever it was, clearly it was offensive enough to have provoked such a reaction from one of the world’s most successful footballing professionals.

[00:15:05] Now, our final World Cup controversy is another one involving France and Italy, but for this one we need to go back decades, to 1938. 

[00:15:17] I imagine even our older listeners might not have been around to watch this one live.

[00:15:22] But if you know anything about European history, you will know that the late-1930s were tense times politically across Europe.

[00:15:31] Italy, ruled by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, had been using sports, in particular football, to promote its ideology and project a sense of Italian nationalism at home and abroad.

[00:15:45] Italy had won the previous 1934 World Cup, which was hosted in Italy, but was dogged by accusations of bribery and match-fixing.

[00:15:56] With Mussolini siding with the fascists in the Spanish Civil War and anti-fascist resistance bubbling across Europe, the Italians arrival in France in 1938 came at a tense time of anti-Italian and anti-fascist sentiment

[00:16:13] The Italians, on the other hand, were keen to prove their doubters wrong and show the world that they had won the last World Cup without any backroom deals, or corruption.

[00:16:25] When the Italian squad came to Marseille, 3,000 people took to the streets to protest against the team, the regime it represented, and the political ideology it was playing on behalf of. 

[00:16:39] As you have probably guessed, this World Cup controversy was much more symbolic than a handball or a headbutt

[00:16:47] In such politically charged times, the results of football matches were viewed as political wins and losses.

[00:16:55] Now, as you will likely know, both France and Italy traditionally play in blue. When they play each other, clearly they can’t both play in blue, as that would be confusing. 

[00:17:08] One team, normally the “away” team, needs to wear a different colour.

[00:17:13] So when they were drawn against one another in the quarter finals of the tournament on June 12th, France, as hosts, kept their blue kit and Italy were told to wear an alternative white kit. 

[00:17:28] But sensing the chance to make a political statement, Mussolini ordered his team to wear black - the symbol of his fascist paramilitary organisation - and the team gave the fascist salute before the match kicked off. 

[00:17:45] There was a furious reaction from the French crowd, but their team could do little to stop the Italians on the pitch. 

[00:17:53] Italy won the match 3-1 and went on to win the tournament, not only defending its World Cup crown but inflaming political tensions just months before the outbreak of war in Europe.

[00:18:07] On that day in 1938, the match had taken on political significance and became about much more than football - it wasn’t simply two teams, but two ideologies battling on the pitch.

[00:18:20] In fact, and here is some trivia for you, the 1938 World Cup was the last to be held before the outbreak of the Second World War, and as a result of their back to back victories in 1934 and 1938, the Italians were the World Champions until 1950 - a grand total of 16 years. 

[00:18:42] Now, before we finish, here are five interesting bits of World Cup trivia, or facts, for you.

[00:18:49] Our first fact is that the first FIFA World Cup was not held in Italy or France or Brazil or Germany, or any other football powerhouse as you might expect, but in the small South American country of Uruguay all the way back in 1930. 

[00:19:07] And as many of you know, the World Cup is not just a sporting event but a cultural celebration. As a result, fans, especially England fans, tend to enjoy themselves. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for example, a staggering 750,000 litres of beer were sold in stadiums. With Qatar’s strict laws on alcohol consumption, it will be interesting to see how fans manage this year…

[00:19:37] Trivia point number three is to do with the World Cup’s popularity. Now, you probably know the World Cup is popular, but quite how popular might surprise you. At the last World Cup, the 2018 World Cup in Russia, over half of the world’s population, a total of 3.572 billion people, tuned in to watch. 

[00:20:02] Now, fun fact number 4 doesn’t involve people, but dogs. Specifically, a dog named Pickles. 

[00:20:11] In 1966, the World Cup trophy, known as the Jules Rimet trophy, was stolen.

[00:20:18] Where had it gone? How was it possible that the World Cup trophy, supposedly under strict security, could be stolen?

[00:20:26] Fortunately, a few days later a dog walker called David Corbett found a strange looking package while walking his dog Pickles. Opening it up, Corbett was amazed that he was holding the World Cup in his hands.

[00:20:43] Many people in England say Pickles was good luck, because 1966 was the first - and only - time that England has won the World Cup.

[00:20:54] Finally, many of you may know that the 2022 World Cup is already causing some controversy before the starting whistle has even been blown.

[00:21:04] The 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the first held in the Arab World, and the first to be held during the winter, a big change as World Cups are usually held in the summertime.

[00:21:17] This is due to the intense summer heat in Qatar, and as a result each stadium will be entirely air conditioned. 

[00:21:26] FIFA, the international football body, and Qatar, a country that has never qualified for a World Cup itself, have been widely accused of bribery and corruption during the selection process.

[00:21:38] And sadly, the Qatar World Cup is controversial not just for corruption, but also for the use of slave labour.

[00:21:47] Reports have suggested that as many as 7,000 workers have died trying to build the facilities and stadiums for the event. 

[00:21:57] So, whatever happens this winter, whoever wins the tournament, one thing is for sure: like all World Cups, there’s sure to be some controversy - both on and off the pitch.

[00:22:13] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on World Cup controversies. Whether you are a die-hard football fan and you’ll be watching every match, or you couldn’t even explain the offside rule, I hope it was a fun one, and that you learned something new.

[00:22:28] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:22:32] Can you remember any of the incidents we talked about today?

[00:22:35] What other controversies didn’t we include but you can remember?

[00:22:39] And what do you think about the Qatar World Cup?

[00:22:43] What do you think about England’s chances even?

[00:22:45] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:22:49] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:22:57] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:02] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

[00:00:04] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and this episode is going to be released on November 18th.

[00:00:27] Why am I saying this?

[00:00:29] Well, if you’re a football fan, you probably know what’s happening this weekend.

[00:00:34] This Sunday, at Al Bayt Stadium, about 35km north of Doha in Qatar, will see the start of the next Fifa World Cup, the most highly-anticipated footballing competition in the world. 

[00:00:48] It’s where the world’s best footballing nations go head to head.

[00:00:53] National pride is at stake.

[00:00:55] And there’s glory to be won.

[00:00:58] But over the years World Cups have also been home to some serious controversy and scandal.

[00:01:05] So, in this episode we will be looking at five of the most controversial events of World Cup history. 

[00:01:12] From misbehaviour on the pitch through to murder off it, the next 20 minutes will involve politics, war and corruption. Oh, and we’ll also have time for 5 weird and wonderful facts at the end of this episode. OK then, let’s get into it and talk about the most controversial events in the history of the World Cup.

[00:01:37] We will start with one of the game’s most gifted players, but also one of its most controversial - an Argentinian named Diego Maradona.

[00:01:47] Maradona is, simply put, one of the most iconic players in footballing history.

[00:01:54] To many, he is the single greatest footballer of all time.

[00:01:58] To others, he is the sport’s most infamous cheat.

[00:02:03] So, why is he so divisive?

[00:02:06] Well, if you’d like to learn more about this man and you haven’t listened to episode number 146 yet, then you can listen to that afterwards.

[00:02:15] But as far as the World Cup is concerned, there is one match that perfectly captures the enigma that Maradona was - part villain, part genius.

[00:02:27] It was the 22nd of June 1986, in Mexico City.

[00:02:33] Over 110,000 people were packed into the Azteca Stadium to watch the World Cup quarter final between England and Maradona’s Argentina.

[00:02:45] After a goalless first half, six minutes into the second half of the match Argentina were on the attack.

[00:02:54] Advancing close to the England goal, the ball was kicked high in the air towards the England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton.

[00:03:02] Shilton was 1 meter 83 tall, and towered over Maradona, who was just 1 meter 65.

[00:03:11] With such a big height difference, as well as the fact that goalkeepers are allowed, of course, to use their hands, it should have been a routine catch for the English goalkeeper. 

[00:03:23] But as the ball was about to drop into his hands, Maradona jumped up, hung in the air, and the ball ended up in the back of England’s net.

[00:03:34] Maradona turned and began to celebrate, while furious England players pleaded with the referee.

[00:03:42] How had the tiny Argentinian managed to outjump Shilton for the header?

[00:03:49] TV replays revealed that Maradona hadn’t headed the ball, as was first assumed, but punched the ball into the goal with his hand.

[00:04:00] The referee, who didn’t have a clear view of the incident, saw nothing wrong and awarded the goal.

[00:04:08] 1-0 to Argentina.

[00:04:11] It was, as Maradona would say after the match, a goal scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”

[00:04:21] Still furious about Maradona’s cheating, minutes later the England players and fans could do nothing as the little Argentinian dribbled around almost the entire England team and scored what is widely considered to be the greatest goal in the history of football.

[00:04:38] Within the space of a few minutes, the world had seen the two sides of Diego Maradona - the villain and the genius.

[00:04:48] Argentina went on to win the match 2-1 and England were knocked out of the World Cup, and Maradona led Argentina to win the tournament, cementing his status as the best - and most controversial - player in world football.

[00:05:04] Our next World Cup controversy also involves a South American player, but this, sadly, ends in tragedy.

[00:05:13] On the 22nd of June, Colombia played the United States in a group stage match of the 1994 World Cup.

[00:05:21] The Colombian team had performed well in the build-up to the tournament, and expectations were high.

[00:05:29] Andrés Escobar, a talented defender known as ‘The Gentleman of Football”, was expected to lead the Colombian team to the latter stages of the tournament.

[00:05:40] But in the first half of the match against the Americans, Escobar accidentally scored an own goal, he scored a goal for the United States, not for Colombia. Colombia went on to lose the match, and were eliminated in the group stage of the tournament.

[00:05:57] There was some surprise and inevitable disappointment after the country's most dependable player made such a mistake, but that’s football, right?

[00:06:07] These things happen.

[00:06:09] Most people would shrug it off and put such an event down to bad luck, but for some people back home in Colombia it wasn’t that simple.

[00:06:20] After all of the hope and expectation surrounding the Colombian team was lost, for some Escobar’s own goal was not only about football, but it became a matter of life and death.

[00:06:34] When Escobar returned to his hometown of Medellin a few weeks later, he tried to forget all about his mistake and went to a nightclub to blow off some steam with his friends, to have some fun.

[00:06:48] Unfortunately for him, some people hadn’t forgotten about it.

[00:06:54] Outside the club, a group of men confronted Escobar.

[00:06:59] One pulled out a pistol and shot Escobar six times. 

[00:07:05] Witnesses claimed that the shooter shouted “goal” each time he pulled the trigger, for each time he was shot. 

[00:07:14] 45 minutes later, Andrés Escobar, Colombia’s best known footballer - the ‘gentleman of football’ - died in hospital at the age of just 27.

[00:07:25] But who was the shooter?

[00:07:28] Was he simply a deranged football fan who took his revenge on the man he blamed for Colombia’s early exit from the tournament?

[00:07:36] Not quite.

[00:07:38] The following evening, when police arrested the gunman, it came to light, or was revealed, that the truth was much darker than that.

[00:07:48] The alleged shooter, a man named Humberto Castro Muñoz, was a bodyguard for the Gallon brothers, two powerful drug traffickers, or ‘narcos’ as they were known. 

[00:08:00] So why was Escobar killed?

[00:08:04] The Gallon brothers, who were betting on Colombia’s World Cup matches, lost a huge amount of money after Escobar’s own-goal.

[00:08:12] Police believed the brothers had ordered Escobar’s execution in revenge for his own goal, and decided that Muñoz was the man to do it.

[00:08:22] OK, moving on to our next controversy, controversy number 3, and this takes us, in fact, to the Middle East.

[00:08:31] At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Kuwait made its only World Cup appearance and it was one of the strangest - and most controversial - in World Cup history.

[00:08:44] In one of their group stage games, the Kuwaitis quickly found themselves losing to a powerful French team.

[00:08:51] More and more goals went in, and things were beginning to get a little embarrassing.

[00:08:58] But then, in the middle of the game, the Kuwait players simply stopped playing.

[00:09:05] As they stood still, the French midfielder Alain Giresse scored a fourth goal for France, taking it to 4-1.

[00:09:15] The Kuwaiti players claimed that they had heard a whistle from the crowd and confused it for the referee’s. 

[00:09:24] With the Kuwait team refusing to play or restart the match, confusion filled the stadium.

[00:09:31] Had the referee blown his whistle? Should the goal be allowed?

[00:09:35] The players and coaches protested to the referee, and looked desperately up into the stands.

[00:09:42] They were gesturing and communicating with someone watching the game.

[00:09:47] But who was it?

[00:09:50] Then, a man wearing a traditional white robe and red headscarf stood up.

[00:09:56] Incredibly, he gestured for the players to leave the pitch, he signalled for them to get off.

[00:10:03] After more confusion, the man signalled that he was coming down to the pitch.

[00:10:10] The man was Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti Prince but also a key figure in the Kuwaiti football association.

[00:10:20] He made his way down from the stands.

[00:10:22] Again, he ordered all his players off the pitch, and argued furiously with the referee and officials.

[00:10:31] Incredibly, the Soviet referee, Miroslav Stupar disallowed the goal, the first and only time a spectator changed the decision of a referee in World Cup, and perhaps footballing history.

[00:10:46] It didn’t make a whole lot of difference, though, and France still went on to win 4-1. 

[00:10:52] Kuwait’s short lived World Cup experience was over, Prince Fahid was given a large fine, and the referee, Miroslav Stupar, was banned from refereeing. 

[00:11:04] OK, controversy number four. This is a more recent one, involving France again, and I imagine it's one that many of you might remember watching live.

[00:11:16] The 2006 World Cup, which was held in Germany, was the swansong, or last performance, of one of the game’s greatest players.

[00:11:26] Zinedine Zidane, a Frenchman who played most of his career in Italy and Spain, was one of world football’s true icons.

[00:11:35] He was known for his grace and intelligence on the pitch, and after a highly successful club and international career, the world of football tuned in to watch the last game of Zidane’s long and illustrious career on the 9th of July 2006 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

[00:11:55] France versus Italy, in the World Cup final. 

[00:11:59] The stage was set for Zidane to end his playing career in glory.

[00:12:04] He had been the standout player of not just the French team, but the entire tournament, and had captained France all the way to the final.

[00:12:14] He started the game well, drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd, and in the 7th minute he put the French 1-0 up with a goal from the penalty spot.

[00:12:26] But the Italians equaled in the 19th minute with a header from defender Marco Materazzi, and the game grew more and more tense.

[00:12:36] Zidane dominated the game, almost scoring another, but neither team could score the winning goal and the game went to extra time.

[00:12:45] The anticipation for what felt like Zidane’s inevitable triumph was growing.

[00:12:51] But then something absolutely jaw-dropping happened.

[00:12:55] Something that left the entire football world speechless.

[00:13:00] In the 109th minute of the game, the game’s two goalscorers, Zidane and Materazzi, began jostling, fighting for the ball.

[00:13:11] After Materazzi pulled on Zidane's shirt, Zidane set off running to help his team defend the goal. 

[00:13:19] But Materazzi shouted something to him, Zidane stopped, and turned.

[00:13:25] Drawing back his head, he stepped forward and head butted Matarazzi firmly in the chest.

[00:13:33] The Italian dropped to the floor, and his teammates cried out, trying to get the referee’s attention. 

[00:13:41] After checking with his assistant, the referee gave Zidane a red card, he sent him off the pitch.

[00:13:48] The football world watched in shock as Zinedine Zidane walked closely past the trophy everyone thought he had been destined to win.

[00:13:57] As you may remember, Italy went on to win 5-3 on penalties.

[00:14:03] The dream ending to Zidane’s career, and French hopes of another World Cup triumph, were thrown away in a moment of madness.

[00:14:12] So, what did Materazzi say to Zidane to provoke him so?

[00:14:16] Zidane has never confirmed publicly what it was but many believe it was something incredibly insulting about Zidane’s family. In 2020, Materazzi said in an interview that Zidane had told him 'I'll give you my shirt later', to which Materazzi replied that "he'd rather have his sister than his shirt."

[00:14:39] Some football journalists have even claimed that the Italian coach, Marcello Lippi, who was Zidane’s manager at Juventus when the Frenchman was playing in Italy, had some dirt, some secret, about his private life, and told Materazzi to use it against him.

[00:14:56] Whatever it was, clearly it was offensive enough to have provoked such a reaction from one of the world’s most successful footballing professionals.

[00:15:05] Now, our final World Cup controversy is another one involving France and Italy, but for this one we need to go back decades, to 1938. 

[00:15:17] I imagine even our older listeners might not have been around to watch this one live.

[00:15:22] But if you know anything about European history, you will know that the late-1930s were tense times politically across Europe.

[00:15:31] Italy, ruled by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, had been using sports, in particular football, to promote its ideology and project a sense of Italian nationalism at home and abroad.

[00:15:45] Italy had won the previous 1934 World Cup, which was hosted in Italy, but was dogged by accusations of bribery and match-fixing.

[00:15:56] With Mussolini siding with the fascists in the Spanish Civil War and anti-fascist resistance bubbling across Europe, the Italians arrival in France in 1938 came at a tense time of anti-Italian and anti-fascist sentiment

[00:16:13] The Italians, on the other hand, were keen to prove their doubters wrong and show the world that they had won the last World Cup without any backroom deals, or corruption.

[00:16:25] When the Italian squad came to Marseille, 3,000 people took to the streets to protest against the team, the regime it represented, and the political ideology it was playing on behalf of. 

[00:16:39] As you have probably guessed, this World Cup controversy was much more symbolic than a handball or a headbutt

[00:16:47] In such politically charged times, the results of football matches were viewed as political wins and losses.

[00:16:55] Now, as you will likely know, both France and Italy traditionally play in blue. When they play each other, clearly they can’t both play in blue, as that would be confusing. 

[00:17:08] One team, normally the “away” team, needs to wear a different colour.

[00:17:13] So when they were drawn against one another in the quarter finals of the tournament on June 12th, France, as hosts, kept their blue kit and Italy were told to wear an alternative white kit. 

[00:17:28] But sensing the chance to make a political statement, Mussolini ordered his team to wear black - the symbol of his fascist paramilitary organisation - and the team gave the fascist salute before the match kicked off. 

[00:17:45] There was a furious reaction from the French crowd, but their team could do little to stop the Italians on the pitch. 

[00:17:53] Italy won the match 3-1 and went on to win the tournament, not only defending its World Cup crown but inflaming political tensions just months before the outbreak of war in Europe.

[00:18:07] On that day in 1938, the match had taken on political significance and became about much more than football - it wasn’t simply two teams, but two ideologies battling on the pitch.

[00:18:20] In fact, and here is some trivia for you, the 1938 World Cup was the last to be held before the outbreak of the Second World War, and as a result of their back to back victories in 1934 and 1938, the Italians were the World Champions until 1950 - a grand total of 16 years. 

[00:18:42] Now, before we finish, here are five interesting bits of World Cup trivia, or facts, for you.

[00:18:49] Our first fact is that the first FIFA World Cup was not held in Italy or France or Brazil or Germany, or any other football powerhouse as you might expect, but in the small South American country of Uruguay all the way back in 1930. 

[00:19:07] And as many of you know, the World Cup is not just a sporting event but a cultural celebration. As a result, fans, especially England fans, tend to enjoy themselves. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for example, a staggering 750,000 litres of beer were sold in stadiums. With Qatar’s strict laws on alcohol consumption, it will be interesting to see how fans manage this year…

[00:19:37] Trivia point number three is to do with the World Cup’s popularity. Now, you probably know the World Cup is popular, but quite how popular might surprise you. At the last World Cup, the 2018 World Cup in Russia, over half of the world’s population, a total of 3.572 billion people, tuned in to watch. 

[00:20:02] Now, fun fact number 4 doesn’t involve people, but dogs. Specifically, a dog named Pickles. 

[00:20:11] In 1966, the World Cup trophy, known as the Jules Rimet trophy, was stolen.

[00:20:18] Where had it gone? How was it possible that the World Cup trophy, supposedly under strict security, could be stolen?

[00:20:26] Fortunately, a few days later a dog walker called David Corbett found a strange looking package while walking his dog Pickles. Opening it up, Corbett was amazed that he was holding the World Cup in his hands.

[00:20:43] Many people in England say Pickles was good luck, because 1966 was the first - and only - time that England has won the World Cup.

[00:20:54] Finally, many of you may know that the 2022 World Cup is already causing some controversy before the starting whistle has even been blown.

[00:21:04] The 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the first held in the Arab World, and the first to be held during the winter, a big change as World Cups are usually held in the summertime.

[00:21:17] This is due to the intense summer heat in Qatar, and as a result each stadium will be entirely air conditioned. 

[00:21:26] FIFA, the international football body, and Qatar, a country that has never qualified for a World Cup itself, have been widely accused of bribery and corruption during the selection process.

[00:21:38] And sadly, the Qatar World Cup is controversial not just for corruption, but also for the use of slave labour.

[00:21:47] Reports have suggested that as many as 7,000 workers have died trying to build the facilities and stadiums for the event. 

[00:21:57] So, whatever happens this winter, whoever wins the tournament, one thing is for sure: like all World Cups, there’s sure to be some controversy - both on and off the pitch.

[00:22:13] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on World Cup controversies. Whether you are a die-hard football fan and you’ll be watching every match, or you couldn’t even explain the offside rule, I hope it was a fun one, and that you learned something new.

[00:22:28] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:22:32] Can you remember any of the incidents we talked about today?

[00:22:35] What other controversies didn’t we include but you can remember?

[00:22:39] And what do you think about the Qatar World Cup?

[00:22:43] What do you think about England’s chances even?

[00:22:45] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:22:49] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:22:57] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:02] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]