World Cups are never just about what transpires on the field. When the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil on Thursday, tens of thousands of Brazilians will probably protest, angered by the wasteful government spending that has led up to the tournament. What better platform to make a statement than one watched by billions around the planet?

But soccer's unchallenged place in the global imagination also means that what happens on the field carries special resonance. The goals scored aren't just markers of sporting success: They are moments of national glory and humiliation, acts of cultural expression and political defiance. World Cup goals can change history. Here are 10 that did.