Being regarded as the most popular football tournament next tothe World Cup in terms of international prestige, European Championship has become a worldwide sporting platform that is not exempted to major controversies and scandals that marks in the sporting history. Here are some of the most controversial moments that plague in the most successful football event in the word:
EURO 2008: Poland vs Howard Webb
During the Euro 2008 group stage, Austria were in the brink of elimination when they clash with Poland. With just under 93 minutes on the clock, English referee Howard Webb found himself in the spotlight over his controversial decision to award Austria a late penalty, pointed to the spot having deemed MarcinWasilewski guilty of pulling Sebastian Prodl’s shirt.
Ivica Vastic tucked the penalty in and Austria secured a point which kept Austria’s hopes alive yet all but eliminated their opponents. Players were in rage even Poland President Lech Kaczynski went to the pitch and scolded Webb. However, it was not enough to prevent Poland from knocking out at the group stage, losing their final group game against Croatia 1-0.
EURO 2016: The abandoned Serbia vs Albania match
For the first time, the European Championship final tournament was contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format used since 1996. During the qualifying rounds of the tournament, the clash between Serbia and Albania was forcedly abandoned due to several on and off the field incidents that threatened the Albania national team.
The match was supposed to be at Partizan Stadium, in Belgrade, Serbia. However, incidents such as chants of Serbia fans, “Ubij, ubij, Šiptara” translated as “Kill the Albanians”occurred, while objects and flares were being thrown in the pitch even before the match started. The points deduction to Serbia, fines, and order to play Serbia home games without a crowd were left intact.
EURO 2020: De Bruyne’s “scandal” remarks
Last March, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has postponed the European Championships or the Euro 2020 will resume after a year due to the threat of global pandemic. Previously, UEFA have allocated fixtures in 12 cities across Europe in celebration of tournament’s 60th birthday.However, the draw format did not favour some players like Berlgium’s Kevin de Bruyne.
The Manchester City star expressed and hits out at Uefa for “falsifying the competition”. In an interview, De Bruyne said that the draw format, which leaves his team playing away against Russia and Denmark, both of whom will host games, is a “scandal”. He added that “Football is not really football anymore, it’s becoming a business.”