There was bad blood between England and Argentina two powerhouses of world soccer well before a ball was kicked in anger at the 1986 World Cup. Four years earlier, the two nations had gone to war over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Tensions were still high during the World Cup quarterfinals in Mexico, in a match starring a certain Diego Armando Maradona, Argentina’s greatest-ever player, who was at the peak of his powers during the tournament.
Maradona scored both his side’s goals in the 2-1 victory. For the first, despite appearing to head the ball, the player actually used his fist to loop it over the English goalkeeper. England complained vociferously to the referee, but the goal stood, and it was followed a few minutes later by a sumptuous second in which Maradona dribbled the ball from the halfway line, passing most of England’s defenders in the process, and slotted it into the net as casually as if he were playing a practice match.
But the aftermath was all about that opening effort, which Maradona said had been scored by the “hand of God.” Then the political undercurrents bubbled up, with Maradona claiming that the goal and Argentina’s victory were retribution for his country’s defeat to the English in the Falklands war. “We blamed the English players for everything that happened, for all the suffering of the Argentine people … This was revenge.” Argentina went on to win the World Cup, but England has never forgiven Maradona for his act of trickery.
(O.K., so that’s 11 examples in this top-10 list. What can we say? We cheated.)