The World Cup remains the biggest competition in sport. With the stage set for some of the greatest players to reveal their acts, the tournament has a habit of being both kind and cruel. In 19 tournaments, only 8 teams have managed to claim the greatest prize in football. Some have been fortunate to win one, others even more fortunate to win more than one but there are also those who haven’t won it at all. Some of the game’s greatest players have graced us with their exceptional performances but left empty handed. Here are the top five greatest players to never win the World Cup:
The standout player in this list. Without doubt the greatest European at all time, Cruyff epitomises the term ‘Total Football’ having been part of the Renus Michels class of 1974 before later going on to lay the same blueprint as Barcelona manager inspiring a certain Pep Guardiola in the process. Having scored 33 goals in 48 games for the Netherlands, Cruyff seemed destined to guide his team to World Cup glory in 1974. Having never lost a game in which Cruyff scored, the Netherlands were firm favourites to land their first World Cup against West Germany. However, the Germans caused an upset with a 2-1 win and managing to shut out Cruyff in the process. Cruyff managed to guide his team through qualifying for the 1978 World Cup in a bid to avenge the 1974 defeat but retired prior to the tournament as the Netherlands once again lost out in the final to Argentina. Having won everything in the club game as both player and manager, the World Cup for Cruyff will always be a case of what might have been.
The 1966 World Cup will be forever linked with an England victory thanks to a Geoff Hurst hat-trick but it should not be forgotten how good Eusebio was in 1966. Coming into the tournament Eusebio was the reigning Ballon d’Or winner and certainly lived up to his reputation scoring an impressive 9 goals to finish as top scorer. His tears at the end of Portugal’s semi-final defeat to England has been called ‘the game of tears’ back in Portugal.
Plying his trade alongside Di Stefano at Madrid, Ferenc Puskas made his name as one of the greatest goalscorers to play the game. Puskas’ international record for Hungary isn’t too bad either with 84 goals in 85 matches. He was the heartbeat of Hungary’s 1954 team going into the tournament. Having suffered an injury midway through, Puskas returned for the final against Germany ina game where many expected Hungary to prevail. It wasn’t to be as Germany produced a huge upset to win 3-2 to win in horrendous conditions.
For all the praise the 1970 team received, it is often forgotten just how incredible a team Brazil’s 1982 team were to watch. There is an argument that they were a better side to watch than the class of 1970 with their carefree one touch passing and movement. At the heart of that team was Zico. Playing in the heart of midfield, he embarked on a run of 8 goals in which he scored a played a part in. Brazil were knocked out by eventual champions Italy that year which, for football, was truly a sad sight given the talents within that Brazil side. Unfortunately for Zico, 1986 was equally disappointing. Struggling with injury prior to the tournament, he made his appearance off the bench against France only to miss a penalty in normal time as France prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.
Having played in three World Cups, few Italians played the game as beautifully as Baggio. Having arrived on the scene at Italia ’90, he was largely used as a substitute. However, that didn’t stop Baggio from showing the world his talents. With two goals to his name, his dribbling, passing and vision made him one of the stars of that tournament. He also scored goal of the tournament following a mazy dribble, one-two and finish against Czechoslovakia. Fast forward 4 years and Baggio is the cornerstone of the national team. After a slow start to the tournament for both Italy and Baggio himself, he came alive in the knockout stages. He bagged a brace against Nigeria to set up a quarter-final encounter with Spain where he scored the winner with 3 minutes remaining. Having scored both goals in the semi against Bulgaria too, it seemed destined Baggio would inspire Italy all the way as they faced Brazil in the final. However, a pulled hamstring against Bulgaria meant Baggio was not fully fit in that final which would be decided on penalties. In what is undoubtedly one of the most upsetting scenes from a World Cup, Baggio put his penalty over the bar which handed Brazil their fourth title. A heartbreaking end to one of the greatest tournament performances you will see.
Other players to remember: Paolo Maldini, Michel Platini, Lev Yashin, Stanley Matthews.
The never-ending thrill of sports
Today, the world of sports is not just limited to the real ground and fields, but have moved on to the virtual world. One can enjoy watching their favourite sports such as football, cricket, rugby, tennis, cycling, and horse racing online. They can book their tickets for their favourite sports or watch them online right from within the comforts of their home. It is no surprise to see the mix of sports betting and casinos.
After all, it is hard to keep one segregated from the other. Browse NJ online casino to learn more about those popular sports and online betting. Many sports lovers love to make bets on sports to show their passion for the game.
The sports media
Sports journalists paly an essential role of maintaining the of press provision at the famous venues of the sports. The idea is to spread awareness regarding the high standards of sports and keep the buzz alive around them. Ever since the advent of the internet, the websites and now the smartphones, the sports media has taken off in a big way.
Now fans can enjoy their favorite games with just a few clicks or use social media apps to keep a tap on the current scores, almost anywhere at any time. There are Sports apps that provide updates, game schedules and much more. Sports fans can enjoy real-time results right when it happens. They need not be at the game or at home in front of their television to see how their favorite sports star is doing.
This is a good scenario for all the sports fans as they can now get regular updates on their favorite games and teams anytime. Online sports betting is not far behind and is fast gaining popularity. There are plenty of websites such as NJ online casino where one can enjoy casino games and bet on their favorite sports.
The experience takes their thrill to a whole new level. The gambling opportunities are quite abundant and comprise betting online sports and loads of others games. The software used for online sports and gambling are very easy to install. This is good news for all the novice gamblers out there.
Basketball and football have always enjoyed immense popularity across the world, and their total revenues are already breaking records. Football leagues around the world are raking in more money than ever before. N.B.A., the American sports league, is still one of the most popular brands in China and has more than 70 million followers. Spain’s biggest basketball teams are getting affiliated with their football counterparts.
However, it is the football that is the most heavily financed and dominant one. Popular sportsmen and international athletes get followed on social media. Cristiano Ronaldo leads with more than 127 million followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Do not miss out on any of those best sporting events happening across the world. Indulge your sporting passion and make sure that you get the best experience.
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The biggest fixing scandals in the history of football
Of all the sports played across the globe, football has had some of the most spectacular match-fixing scandals ever seen.
Of course, football isn’t the only sport that is prone to fixing scandals. History’s top fixing incidents have occurred in horse racing, cricket, and even tennis, showing just how widespread the issue really is. FIFA’s Chris Eaton has described fixing as a crisis that threatens the entire integrity of the game, and when you take a look at history’s 7 most notorious football-fixing cases, you’ll see why.
In May 2006, the Italian police cracked open the massive scandal that involved many of Italy’s top teams. Juventus, AC Milan, Reginna and Fiorentina were all involved, with the teams’ managers and referees having been caught conspiring to fix major league matches. Juve was relegated to Serie B and lost several league titles, while other team presidents were banned and fined.
This French FC inspired outrage with its fixing involvement. The team apparently approached members of other local teams and asked them to throw games away, with former manager of Monaco Arsene Wenger dropping a big hint that uncovered the ordeal after losing to Marseille in the two years prior.
The Referee Robert Hoyzer Scandal (2005)
Referee Robert Hoyzer was banned and sentenced to two years in jail after he was caught accepting bribes to fix football matches for Croatian bar owner Ante Sapina. Hoyzer was convicted of fixing numerous matches in the 2nd and 3rd German tiers along with Bundesliga cup matches, in which he also awarded many controversial red cards and penalties to further his cause.
Plateau United Scores Too Many Goals (2013)
To earn a spot in Nigeria’s professional ranks, two teams fixed their matches, but their winning totals cast a spotlight on their plan and the Nigerian FA banned all 4 clubs involved for 10 years. The Plateau United Feeders scored an unbelievable 79-0 win, and the Police Machine FC won their match 67-0.
Belarusian Ghost Match (2015)
Two major betting agencies were caught offering bets and paying out on the results of a ‘ghost match’ in Belarus that never actually took place. The 2-1 result of FC Slutsk and Shakhter Soligorsk was confirmed by an official from the former team, only to have the story unravel later on. A former data collection company employee was found to be the brains behind the con.
SEA Games Fixing (2015)
Singaporean player Rajendran R. Kurusamny received the highest-ever prison term given to a fixer on a single charge when he was caught conspiring to fix 2015 SEA Games matches. The player received a 4-year sentence after his plot was ousted, having made over eight payments to Malaysian players to ensure they lost.
Spiked Water Bottles in Italy (2010)
Players in an Italian 3rd division match began to feel very lethargic and disorientated – only to find out goalkeeper Marco Paolini had spiked his team’s water bottles to fix the match in an attempt to pay off gambling debts. Paolini was banned for 5 years, and some believe the scam was linked to notorious fixing mogul Dan Tan.
Four international football tournaments you’ve probably never heard of…
We all know the big boys get all the glory in football – well, nine times out of ten they do. Tournaments like the World Cup, Premier League, Champions League and Euros may be the most lucrative and widely broadcast tournaments, but that doesn’t mean they’re the “biggest”.
There’s no shortage of other international tournaments to tickle your fancy! And they’re well worth watching – with thousands of players and thousands of goals – they can be some of the most entertaining football tournaments to watch. Here are four to get you started:
1) The Norway Cup
Running every year bar one since 1972, the Norway Cup is more like a football festival – and the whole world is invited.
Held on the green expanse of Ekebergsletta in Oslo, the week-long 2016 tournament broke new ground with 2,199 teams competing over the course of 6,000 games – all aimed at crowning the best youth outfits in the world.
From hosting 10-19-year-old footballers, the cup has expanded to include three-a-side football so those from the age of six can join in the fun.
So not only is it the world’s largest youth football tournament, it’s already got more than three decades of history behind it. In fact, the only reason it probably doesn’t get more coverage is the work it would take to cover the 6,000 games taking place in one week!
It’s certainly not because it doesn’t deserve it. There are great stories of success and even the occasional bit of controversy to keep things interesting during the brief interludes between games: this year, the Russian team were thrown out after its players were said to have “gone berserk” on the field, violently attacking their rivals.[separator type=”thin”]
2) The Gothia Cup – otherwise known as The World Youth Cup
So Norway has the biggest youth football tournament but did you know it has a neighbourly rival called the World Youth Cup?
The Gothia Cup in Sweden runs every July and caps its entry at 1,600 teams – be them school teams based either locally or abroad. It started back in 1975 – yet that first tournament included girls’ teams; a huge success and far from the norm.
Over the years, more than a million – yes, a million! – players from 141 countries have participated. It’s well worth watching too: in an “average” year more than 22,000 goals are scored, more than five per match!
As if the goal bonanza wasn’t enough, it’s heritage is first class. It’s featured some of the world’s most famous players who played at the 2006 World Cup including: Xabi Alonso (Spain), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Ze Roberto (Brazil), José Montiel (Paraguay), Kim Källström and Teddy Lucic (Sweden).
If you didn’t catch it this year on TV, head over to the website. It carries its own live coverage for a subscription charge – but you can’t help feel it deserves a bit more. Especially that opening ceremony.[separator type=”thin”]
3) The Conifa World Football Cup
Conifa – the acronym – sounds like one of the fir trees you might expect to see in Sweden – where its first “world football cup” was held in June 2014, in Ostersund. But it stands for the Confederation of Independent Football Associations – also known as a different world for the beautiful game to thrive, and the result is something quite remarkable.
Conifa puts on its tournament for a veritable feast of states and stateless people, regions and minorities unaffiliated with Fifa such as Greenland, Tibet and Western Armenia – Conifa gives them a chance to show the world exactly what they can do.
“Our main goal is to give football outsiders overseen by Fifa or left behind by their mother country’s FA the chance to win their place on a global stage and advance, football-wise and personally,” said Conifa general secretary Sascha Düerkop.
It’s more than a noble cause. It’s essential. And it’s competitive. Occitania top the current rankings from Panjab and Northern Cyprus – yet it was hosts Abkhazia who won the 2016 tournament in June. The Conifa World Football Cup feels like it’s about something more than just glory hunting – a stark contrast to Fifa’s World Cup.
It’s growing in popularity too with four new members joining in 2016. Two from Africa: Western Sahara and Matabeleland, and two from Europe, Délvidék and Karpatalya.[separator type=”thin”]
4) The Gulf Cup of Nations
Sure, the Euros and Copa America fire up football imaginations across the world – the best nations in Europe and South American respectively doing football battle on an epic stage. But there is something captivating about a little-covered equivalent in the Gulf.
Also known as the Arabian Gulf Cup, the four-yearly tournament is not sanctioned by Fifa – which probably adds to the charm, as some of the world’s wealthiest states thrash it out on the pitch.
On the calendar since 1970, Kuwait is by some way the most successful nation with 10 titles – not bad for a country with a population of approaching 4,000,000. Saudi Arabia, for contrast, is second place with three titles to their name.
It’s Qatar’s turn in 2017 – five years before the state will host the Fifa World Cup. The eyes of the world should be on how they perform and with improving TV coverage in recent years, it may be the world is about to experience more of the Arabian Gulf Cup.
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