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 1992: The fall of Yugoslavia
In 1992, the format of the game allows winners of the seven groups to join the hosts in the tournament. Denmark had missed out on qualification, however, Yugoslavia, in a state of civil war, was banned from participating in the tournament. It gave the Danes the chance to qualify and they shocked the football world by beating the unified Germany lifting their maiden trophy.
Decades after the unprecedented disqualification, Former Yugoslavia star Slavisa Jokanovic has confessed that the team that Yugoslavia sent for the ‘92 Euros were much better than eventual winners Denmark. “We could have done something big with the players we still had but a month earlier that team had been even stronger. It was a very ugly time,” Jokanovic recalled.
EURO 1996: England vs Spain fiasco
For the first time, the Euros was held with 16 instead of eight teams in 1996. From the 16 finalists, it was Germany and Czech Republic who made it to the final round of European Championships in Wembley. During the quarterfinal clash between Spain and hosts England, there are a couple of questionable occasion that favoured the hosts.
Julio Salinas had a brilliant goal ruled out despite forward was clearly onside, while Jose Luis Caminero was denied a strong penalty shout. Kiko also made a brilliant goal that was ruled out for the Spanish side. Hosts England prevailed in a penalty shootout and Salinas expressed his dismay afterwards, “We not only played against 11 players and 70,000 fans but also three officials. It was impossible to win.”
EURO 2000: France’s helping hand
France followed up their 1998 World Cup win to become World and European champions during the Euro 2000, co-hosted, for the first time by Belgium and Netherlands. However, this win entails controversial aid during the semi-final clash against Portugal. Three minutes away from going to penalties, David Trezeguet hit a strike, Vitor Baia saved and it dropped into the path of Sylvain Wiltord.
The Arsenal forward’s rebound crashed straight into Abel Xavier’s hand as he attempted to clear the ball off the line, and referee Guenter Benko awarded Les Bleus a corner. However, on the advice of his assistant, the Austrian official then pointed to the spot, much to the fury of Portugal’s players. Zinedine Zidane allowed to take the resulting penalty and fired in the spot-kick to seal France’s final spot.
EURO 2004: The Nordic fix
One of the glorious moments in the European Championship history is the win of Greece for the first time since 1980, the nation’s maiden appearance in the tournament. The controversy occurs when Sweden and Denmark went into their final group game at Euro 2004 knowing that a 2-2 draw would be enough to send them both through to the knockout stage.
Heading into the final round of games in Group C, Italy foreseen a victory against Bulgaria and confident to clinch place in the knockout stages. However, Italy shared spoils with the Scandinavian side guaranteeing them both a place in the last eight on goal difference. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon lateraccused Sweden and Denmark of match fixing, but UEFA ruled that no foul play had occurred.