Vince McMahon and the Super Bowl might claim otherwise but the World Cup is undoubtedly the grandest stage of them. The biggest sporting competition on the planet, the World Cup captivates billions. It brings families together and can turn players into superstars overnight. Icons are born and hearts are broken with 32 teams entering and only one getting their hands on (a replica of) the famous Jules Rimet trophy. There are no medals for participation in elite sport.
If you're a football fan, you'll have plenty of moments that spring to mind at the mention of the World Cup. If you're not then it may be a solitary association. A moment that transcended sport and became a pop culture phenomenon, like Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi in 2006. Sure, there was a gap in the reference market for butts to the chest but we doubt Family Guy had that gag in mind before Zidane saw red and lashed out at the defender.
This list isn't about those moments. We're looking at the moments that had their day in the sun but should have endured for longer. We'll try not to pick too many from the same tournament and the list will largely focus on tournaments that took place in the 21st century.
10. Anelka And Evra Lead French Revolt - 2010
Everything about France's World Cup in 2010 was controversial. They got there via a handball by Thierry Henry in their playoff against Ireland. (The Irish, bless them, asked FIFA to do the right thing and make them the 33rd team in that tournament. Sepp Blatter laughed at the proposal in public.) France have a conveyer belt of talent that never stops and their squad for the 2010 World Cup was packed with players from the biggest clubs in Europe. However, the man in charge, Raymond Domenech, didn't have their respect. Although he coached France when they reached the previous World Cup final, Domenech was ridiculed by the media for poor results and an interest in astrology.
France were in the same group as hosts South Africa, Uruguay, and Mexico. An opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay was not a terrible result but it didn't help the bad mood around the camp. The next game, against Mexico, saw tensions reach boiling point. The teams were level at half-time but that didn't dissuade Nicolas Anelka from cursing out Domenech in a rant. This sour mood may have affected France in the second half as they went on to lose 2-0.
Domenech sought to nip revolt in the bud by dismissing Anelka the next day. However, a training ground fight between captain Patrice Evra and the team trainer Robert Duverne led to escalation. The players returned to the team bus and refused to train. It was only after a public dressing down by the French Football Federation that they ended their boycott. They went on to promptly lose their last match 2-1 to South Africa, finishing bottom of their group. Domenech, who refused to shake hands with his opponent after losing, has not gotten a major job since.