We all like to see our favorite teams win. We also like to think they do so cleanly. Sadly, some sports teams decide that winning is more important than playing by the rules. Teams, players, and even officials get caught cheating. When it happens, everyone hopes those involved are punished, but this is not always the case. Unfortunately, sports team have won despite major controversy many times.
1. Argentina soccer team in the 1986 FIFA World Cup
One of the most outrageous examples of a win despite scandal involved Argentina in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The team was competing against England i the quarterfinals. Toward the game’s end, Argentina’s Diego Maradona and England’s Peter Shilton both made a move for the airborne ball. It seemed like Maradona got his head on the ball, which resulted in a goal for Argentina.
It wasn’t until later that it was discovered that Maradona actually touched the ball with his hand. Despite protests from England’s side, the goal was allowed. Argentina won the quarterfinals and ultimately became world champions. Maradona now famously calls the play “the hand of God.”
2. The Patriots cheat their way to the 2015 Super Bowl
To an extent, some of the New England Patriots’ allegations are the result of people upset with the team’s consistent success over the past decade. However, the deflategate scandal that marred the Patriots’ 2015 Super Bowl win proves where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The event took place when the Patriots played the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
New England won the game, but many were surprised when the footballs were replaced halfway through the game. A few days later, the Patriots were accused of using under-inflated balls and faced an investigation. In the meantime, the Patriots beat the Seahawks and won the Super Bowl, though the victory was marred.
On May 6, it was announced that the NFL believed the Patriots had cheated. While they weren’t stripped of the Super Bowl win, quarterback Tom Brady was issued a four-game suspension, the Patriots lost a few draft picks, and the team was fined $1 million.
3. France cheats their way into the 2010 FIFA World Cup
This FIFA World Cup game pitted Ireland against France in a qualifying round. The moment of cheating controversy happened at 103 minutes when Thierry Henry passed the ball to a teammate who promptly scored the game-winning goal. This would’ve been fine if it weren’t for photos where it looks like Henry used his hand to direct the ball, a strict no-no in soccer.
4. Italy’s best soccer teams shock the world
One of the most outrageous cheating scandals to rock the sports world involved Italian football in 2006. An investigation revealed that individuals connected with the top Italian teams arranged to have specific officials judging the games. An intense investigation ultimately unraveled a network of crooked team managers and referee organizations. The cheating scandal is called Calciopoli, which translates to footballgate.
5. Justify qualifies for the Kentucky Derby
Justify won the hearts of people worldwide when he won the Triple Crown. But rumors of cheating and abuse began circulating right after his Kentucky Derby win. During a public appearance shortly after the race, Justify looked lame. The irregularity in his gait was defined as scratches, a condition that commonly troubles horses. He was cleared by a veterinarian.
More recently, fans learned that Justify should never have competed in the Kentucky Derby. In the weeks leading up to the race, Justify failed a drug test, which should have made him ineligible to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Officials claim they can’t prove the horse was drugged before the race since consuming certain weeds can impact this specific drug test.
It’s likely that we’ll still see teams cheat their way to major wins, but improved replay technology and better investigative techniques improve the likelihood getting caught.