World Cups are hotbeds for drama and nations have seen their fair share of embarrassments on the grandest stage, including our own little emerald isle.
Some f*ck-ups are pre-tournament and some happen mid-game, but they’re all gorgeously brutal and we can’t get enough.
Spain themselves lead the world in tragic comedy so far in this tournament following the sacking of their gaffer just hours before the World Cup kicks off.
It’s true that you can’t spell Saipan without Spain, but for the sake of the nation, let’s avoid that one for now, eh?
Here’s some of the biggest World Cup implosions for you to grimace and laugh at in equal measure:
France – 2010 World Cup
As far as we’re concerned, this bunch of cheating b*stards didn’t even qualify for this tournament, so who really cares? That’s right, eight years on and we’re still bitter – deal with it.
After a police probe, the squad’s refusal to sign autographs, fallouts with Domenech and the FFF actually going out of their way to ban the entire World Cup squad from a post-tournament friendly against Norway, it’s no real surprise in retrospect that things didn’t work out.
South Africa are a rare case in that they were a host that didn’t qualify past the initial group stage and yet, they still managed to beat ten-man France. That’s how much of a mess they were.
Brazil – 2014 World Cup
It’s bad to lose a semi-final. It’s probably the worst game you can lose in sport. It’s really bad to do in a World Cup.
It’s really, really bad to do it in a World Cup you’re hosting. As Germany slapped more and more goals past a Brazil defence that looked like they were in the middle of a tequila-induced stagger to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, the national football team not only became a temporary embarrassment, but a genuine national embarrassment.
It went from being shocking, to funny, to cringey to downright hard to watch. The worst part is that it was over by half-time, and we had to watch eleven players who knew the jig was up, waltz around the pitch and pretend to not know what was awaiting them at the whistle.
United States – 1998 World Cup
We don’t need to get into it, but the US and Iran have quite a history. If you don’t want to sit through a 40-minute-long YouTube video of a hipster trying to make sense of politics way above his head, we can recommend Argo for a brief cinematic glimpse.
Anyway – Iran have played twelve games at the World Cup. They had won none prior to 1998. They have won none since. They drew the US in their group in France. You can see where this is going?
In one of the most politically-charged encounters of all time, the underdogs ran out 2-1 winners in Lyon. The United States didn’t muster a single point in the group. Oh well, at least CONCACAF qualifying is set up so they never miss a tournament and they can make amends, eh? Eh?
Spain – 2014 World Cup
Now, as everyone knows, Spain’s fortunes completely rest with Eamon Dunphy’s mood at World Cup time.
They’re either certainties to win or they’re complete and utter failures, currently going through a major downfall as a footballing nation. There’s no in between. Never change, Eamo.
However, had he predicted this one, he’d have done well. Spain endured their worst ever goal difference at a World Cup when they shipped five to the Netherlands and failed to score against Chile. They were eliminated from the tournament before it even got out of first gear.
While this doesn’t exactly scream national crisis, when you consider their lofty standards, this was quite a fall from grace.
Still, at least they’ve learned their lesson and focused themselves on drama-less preparation for major tournaments since…