FIFA World Cup: Bizarre Consequences Teams Have Faced After Losing

Sometimes teams are met with more than just ugly fanfare.


Megan Flemmit |

With the 2018 Fifa World Cup drawing to a close, we’ve witnessed some surprising moments. Defending champions, Germany were booted out of the tournament in the group stages. Football superstars Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both saw their World Cup dreams come to a halt during the round of 16 when Argentina and Portugal were both knocked out.

These early exits prove just how unpredictable the World Cup is. We’re all waiting to see which team will take home the trophy this year. While winning is always prestigious, losing teams sometimes leave with the World Cup with more than just disappointment. Over the years, teams have faced bizarre and sometimes harsh consequences for their performance during the tournament.

Related: Battle Of The Underdogs: Lessons From The World Cup’s Unexpected

Check out the teams and players who faced some serious backlash for losing in the tournament:

Italy, 1966

Since their first appearance in the World Cup in 1934, the Italian national football team (the Azzuri) have had many shots gone awry. After winning the World Cup in 1934 and 1938, the Azzuri failed to advance beyond the group stages in 1950, 1954 and 1962.

Their hopes of emerging victorious at the 1966 World Cup were dashed after a shocking defeat by North Korea (new entrants to the tournament) during the Cup’s round of 16. And the Italian home crowd took it anything but lightly, when the team arrived back home, they were pelted with unwashed vegetables and eggs.

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Columbia, 1994

In 1994, the Columbian National Football Team looked remarkably promising. They were dubbed one of the favourites to win the World Cup. Their loss to Romania (3-1) in the group stages put a dent in their road to victory. Things went from bad to worse when the team lost to the United States in their next match – a game they needed to win to ensure they made it past the group stages.

But during the 34th minute of the game, Andres Escobar scored an own goal, helping the US team win. Columbia were knocked out of the tournament and sent home. Ten days later, Escobar went out drinking with his friends. It was here, according to FoxNews that he met a fatal end. He was shot six times and died in hospital 45 minutes later.

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North Korea, 2010

Their surprise victory against Italy in 1966 made North Korea the first Asian team to make it past the group stages at the tournament. They then failed to qualify for the World Cup until 2010, where they were the lowest ranking team to compete.

Unlike their first World Cup performance, the North Koreans failed to win any of their games in the group stages. They lost 2-1 to Brazil, 7-0 to Portugal and 3-0 to Ivory Coast. After their dismal performance in South Africa, the team was rumoured to have faced harsh criticism from their government. According to The Guardian, the players were summoned to an auditorium in Pyongyang where they were chastised for six hours in front of 400 other athletes.

Nigeria, 2010

The Nigerian national football team (the Super Eagles) first entered the FIFA World Cup in 1994. During that time they were ranked 5th. Since then the Super Eagles have qualified for six of the past seven World Cups – only missing out on the 2006 tournament. They’ve also made it beyond the group stages thrice.

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During the 2010 World Cup the team lost two out of three of their matches, and drew the final game. Disappointed with the Super Eagles performance, the then President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, banned the team from entering international competitions for two years, according to BBC Sport. But the political intervention put the team at risk for being banned from international football by FIFA. Five days later, on the 5 July 2010, the Nigerian government lifted its ban of the team for FIFA/CAF competitions.

South Korea, 2018

Since 1986, the South Korean national football team (nicknamed The Reds) have played in every World Cup. They’re known as the best Asian football team. They’re also the only Asian team to have made it to the semi-final stages in a World Cup, when they managed to do so in 2002, when they co-hosted the tournament with Japan.

While South Korean law makes military service mandatory for all men, special exemptions are made for sportsmen who do well at the Olympics or other high profile games. After advancing to the semi-finals in 2002, the Reds were exempted from military service.

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Despite the Reds advancing beyond the group stages in this World Cup, the team was not exempted from military service, according to the Washington Post.

Bonus: The Consequence of Winning

After having a goal disallowed in the quarter-final against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup, Italy were knocked out of the tournament. At the time, the South Korean player who netted their victory goal, Ahn Jung-Hwan, played for Italian side, Perugia.

So distraught was the owner of the club, Luciano Gaucci, with Italy’s loss, that he fired Jung-Hwan from the team. According to CNN.com, he told Italian press that he “had no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer.” While he later apologised, Jung-Hwan refused to return to the team.

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