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Who refs the refs? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 controversial calls in sports history.
For this list, we’ve chosen what we consider the most disputed, controversial or flat-out blown calls in professional sports history. Sorry college fans. And we’ve ranked them based on the importance of the games.
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#10 – The Two Stooges (Sept. 24, 2012)
This was the climax after weeks of brutal officiating by the NFL replacement refs: going into the final play, the Green Bay Packers lead the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle attempts a Hail Mary, and all hell breaks loose: ultimately, the Packers should’ve drawn a penalty. But the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing; the play was ruled a TD and the Seahawks won under dubious circumstances.
#9 – La Main de Dieu (Nov. 18, 2009)
During the 2010 World Cup qualification round, the luck o’ the Irish took a vacation. Ireland faced France that series, and thanks to French captain Thierry Henry getting his hands dirty, that was it for them. Henry kept the ball in play with his hands, leading to a goal and French victory. Henry later admitted the error, but it was too late, and FIFA rejected Ireland’s rematch request.
#8 – Jeter’s No Cheater (Oct. 9, 1996)
Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS. Yankees against the Orioles. Bottom of the 8th. Yanks down by one. Jeter’s up. Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco leaps to catch Jeter’s fly ball, but 11-year-old fan Jeffrey Maier beats him to the punch. All the umps see is a ball in the stands and they call the play a homer. New York wins the game, and eventually, the 96 World Series.
#7 – Tuck Everlasting (Jan. 19, 2002)
Snow Job? Tuck Rule game? Whatever, Tom Brady’s lucky. During the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game against Oakland, New England’s down 13-3 in the fourth, when Brady attempts a touchdown. Yadda-yadda-yadda, he’s sacked, drops the ball, and it’s recovered by the Raiders. That’s when the ref employs the little-known, little-liked, now-defunct “tuck rule,” giving possession and momentum back to the Pats. They won the Super Bowl that season.
#6 – Foul Play? (June 14, 1998)
Here’s what we know: Game 6 of the 98 NBA Finals was Michael Jordan’s last game before his second retirement. Mike sinks a 20-footer in the final seconds to carry the Bulls to the title over the Utah Jazz. What we, and apparently the refs, didn’t know was whether or not Jordan fouled guard Bryon Russell before taking the shot. This one’s still up in the air.
#5 – Doesn’t Ring True (Oct. 1, 1988)
American light-middleweight boxer Roy Jones, Jr. controlled every bout leading to the 1988 Olympic boxing final in Seoul, South Korea. By all accounts, Jones dominated there too: for three rounds he pummeled Park Si-Hun in the ring, landing 86 punches to the Korean fighter’s 32. However, judges saw something different and awarded Park the gold. By which we mean, they were bribed. And eventually suspended.
#4 – The Royals Flush (Oct. 26, 1985)
Bad calls during big games are unforgivable. Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, bottom of the 9th, St. Louis is up by one over Kansas City. Royal Jorge Orta hits a groundball past first, and Cards pitcher Todd Worrell tags him out. At least that’s what everybody else saw. Umpire Don Denkinger inexplicably called Orta safe. The Royals rallied, won and forced a Game 7. Which they won.
#3 – A Wrinkle in the Crease (June 19-20, 1999)
After three overtimes, the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres were still battling for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But finally, Brett Hull mercifully scored to win Dallas the Cup. Except, as Sabres fans were quick to mention, his skate was in the crease and it shoulda been ruled “No Goal.” But, alas, the refs missed it, the Stars won and that unpopular rule was soon axed.
#2 – Courtside Cold War (Sept. 9, 1972)
The 1972 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team was the heavy fave to win gold—after all, they’d taken the top spot since 1936. In the final, they faced the USSR and questionable reffing, which proved to be too much for them: after the shot-clock was reset twice in favor of the Soviets, they managed a buzzer-beater basket to win 51-50. The Americans still haven’t picked up their silver medals.
#1 – Divine Intervention (June 22, 1986)
Some call it the “Hand of God” goal; some the Goal of the Century. When Argentina met England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals, it was a game charged with politics and history. Superstar Diego Maradona ensured a continued rivalry by scoring twice. Somehow, the refs missed him punching his first goal into the net; but the result stood and Argentina went on to win the World Cup.
Do you agree with our list? Which game left you cursing the refs the most? For more top 10s about your favorite sports, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.