Rulings that Rocked the World: Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

From Phantom Fouls to Phantom Victories - Get Ready for an Adrenaline-Pumping Countdown of the Most Jaw-Dropping Calls that Left Fans Furious

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Buckle up, sports fanatics, because we’re diving headfirst into the murky waters of controversial calls in sports history, where bad decisions and instant replays collide in a symphony of “WHAT?!”

What connects people like sports ? A glorious tapestry woven with athletic feats, passionate fans, and… incredibly questionable calls by referees.

These moments of officiating injustice can turn a thrilling game into a national outrage, leaving fans fuming and replaying the blunder in their minds for years to come.

The Tuck Rule Saves the Dynasty (AFC Divisional Playoff)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This one’s a classic for a reason. Tom Brady, the young gunslinger of the New England Patriots, fumbles the ball against the Oakland Raiders. Or does he? In a move that defied logic and enraged Raider Nation, the referee ruled it an “incomplete

pass” because Brady’s arm was moving forward in a “tucking motion.” The Pats clung on to win, eventually claiming their first Super Bowl title. Conspiracy theories bloomed like poisonous mushrooms, forever fueling the fire of Raider-Patriot animosity.

The Immaculate Reception (AFC Divisional Playoff)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This “Hail Mary” play involving Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers is more like a “Hail Murray” for controversy. Terry Bradshaw heaved a desperate pass toward the endzone, seemingly intercepted by the Oakland Raiders.

However, the ball somehow bounced off Franco Harris (or did it deflect off a Steeler lineman first?) and into the endzone for a touchdown. The refs ruled it a touchdown, sending the Steelers to the AFC Championship game and forever etching this play in NFL infamy.

Don Denkinger’s Denial (World Series, Game 6)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

Baseball purists still shudder at the memory of this blunder. The Kansas City Royals’ Jorge Orta hit a ground ball that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark clearly bobbled. Somehow, inexplicably,

first base umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe. This “blown call” ignited a Royals rally, leading them to victory and forcing a Game 7, which they ultimately won. Denkinger’s legacy forever remains tarnished by this phantom safe call.

The Hand of God (World Cup Quarterfinal)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

Football (or soccer, for those across the pond) isn’t immune to refereeing gaffes. In the epic clash between Argentina and England, Diego Maradona, the legendary Argentinian player, blatantly punched the ball into the net past the English goalkeeper.

The referee, with a clear view of the handball, inexplicably called it a goal. Maradona later infamously called it the “Hand of God,” adding a layer of audacity to this blatant violation.

The Fail Mary (NFL Regular Season)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This play, involving the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the Green Bay Packers, is a masterclass in last-second confusion. With seconds left and the Packers leading, Wilson launched a desperation heave towards the endzone. Golden Tate, a Seahawks receiver, wrestled the ball away from a

pack of defenders in a chaotic scramble. The initial call was a touchdown, sending Seattle fans into a frenzy. However, upon replay, it was clear Tate never fully possessed the ball before hitting the ground. The call was overturned, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of Seahawks fans forevermore.

The Jeffrey Maier Incident (ALCS, Game 1)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This baseball blunder involves a young fan (Jeffrey Maier) and a questionable case of “fan interference.” Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees launched a flyball that clearly appeared to be caught by Baltimore Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco.

However, 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the outfield wall, deflecting the ball away from Tarasco. The umpires, in a move that still sparks heated debate, ruled the play a home run. The Yankees went on to win the game and eventually the World Series, leaving a trail of Oriole outrage in their wake.

LeBron Gets Robbed (NBA Finals, Game 1)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

Basketball isn’t exempt from controversial calls either. In this high-stakes Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James drove to the basket for a potential game-winning layup.

Andre Iguodala of the Warriors made contact, but the call went the other way: foul on LeBron. Clutch free throws by Golden State sealed the win, leaving LeBron and Cavs fans fuming about the missed foul call.

Spain vs. Morocco (World Cup, Group Stage)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

The beautiful game gets another entry on our list, this time for a case of phantom handball. In a group stage match between Spain and Morocco, a seemingly harmless cross from a Spanish player hit the arm of a Moroccan defender inside the penalty

box. The referee, seemingly influenced by a nearby linesman’s signal, awarded a penalty to Spain. Replays showed minimal contact, if any, and the penalty kick ultimately sealed a controversial win for Spain.

The Stars Win the Stanley Cup… Illegally? (Stanley Cup Finals)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This NHL blunder involves a controversial goal that clinched the Stanley Cup for the Dallas Stars. Brett Hull of the Stars fired a shot that deflected off the post and appeared to cross the goal line entirely before goaltender Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres could control it.

However, the referee didn’t see it that way and signaled a goal. Replays, then and now, offer inconclusive evidence. The Stars won the Cup, forever leaving a sour note for Buffalo fans who believe they were robbed of a championship.

Roy Jones Jr. Gets Jobbed (Seoul Olympics)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

Boxing has a long history of controversial decisions, and Roy Jones Jr.’s fight against South Korea’s Park Si-Hun is a prime example. Jones dominated the entire fight, landing a barrage of punches while barely taking any himself.

In a move that shocked the world, the judges awarded the fight to Park Si-Hun, sparking outrage and accusations of biased judging. This incident cast a long shadow over amateur boxing and the concept of fair competition.

Thierry Henry’s Handball (World Cup Playoff)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This World Cup qualifier between France and Ireland is a masterclass in frustration for Irish fans. With the score tied and Ireland on the brink of a historic World Cup appearance, France launched a desperate attack.

Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball in the box, setting up the winning goal for France. The blatant handball went uncalled, sending Irish fans into a frenzy and leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of the entire nation.

Super Bowl XL: The Seahawks’ Stolen Lombardi

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

This Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers is a prime example of a questionable late-game call swaying the outcome. With seconds left and the Seahawks trailing by a field goal, Matt Hasselbeck launched a pass to the endzone intended for Nate Burleson.

Ward, the Steelers defensive back, interfered with Burleson, clearly impeding his ability to make a play on the ball. No flag was thrown, the interception stood, and the Steelers clinched the Super Bowl. Seahawks fans still wear their outrage like a badge of honor, convinced they were robbed of a championship.

The Phantom Push (Winter Olympics, Figure Skating)

Most Infamous Controversial Calls in Sports History

Figure skating might seem graceful, but this judging controversy in the 2002 Winter Olympics was anything but. The gold medal showdown between Canadians Salé Sale and David Pelletier and the Russian pair of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze was marred by controversy.

A questionable scoring decision, with some suggesting a “backroom deal” between judges, awarded the gold medal to the Russians. The incident sparked outrage, prompting a scoring revamp in figure skating to ensure a more transparent judging system.

A wild ride through the most controversial calls in sports history. These moments serve as a reminder that even the best athletes and most exciting games can be overshadowed by questionable officiating. But hey, who needs predictable endings when we have the drama and outrage of a blatantly blown call, right?

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Wills Alexander
Welcome to my professional canvas! I'm Wills Alexander, a dedicated writer with a fervor for crafting compelling stories that captivate, inform, and inspire. I am the architect of words, an alchemist who transforms ideas into narratives that resonate. With a passion for storytelling, I embark on a journey with every piece, blending creativity with precision to deliver content that leaves a lasting impression.

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