World Football: 10 Infamous Footballers Who Have Served Bans

Ed Wyman@@edwymanCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2012

World Football: 10 Infamous Footballers Who Have Served Bans

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    The recent Luis Suarez affair has got everyone talking about racism in football, but it has also brought extended bans into the spotlight.

    Luis Suarez is by no means the first footballer to receive a ban, and, unfortunately, he will not be the last either. With that in mind, here is a list of 10 infamous footballers who've been banned during their careers. Just to be clear, in order to qualify for this list, the ban must have been longer than the standard suspension received for a red card.

    The players on this list have been banned for everything from racism, drugs, violence or saying things they really shouldn't have.

Luis Suarez

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    Luis Suarez is struggling to stay out of the headlines at the moment. A huge racism scandal was recently made worse after the Uruguayan striker refused to shake Patrice Evra's hand, thus ensuring that he continued to be vilified and Liverpool FC's name was dragged through the dirt a little more.

    Don't get me wrong, he was perfectly entitled not to shake Evra's hand, but his failure to see beyond his own anger has only made matters worse, both for him and his team.

    Suarez received an eight-game ban for allegedly abusing Patrice Evra in a game between Liverpool FC and Manchester United earlier this season, but he has also served a seven-game ban for biting an opponent whilst playing for Ajax in the Dutch league.

    Luis Suarez is undoubtedly a hugely talented footballer. Unfortunately, he also seems to have an uncanny habit of angering people. Hopefully, his more recent troubles will have been enough to make him think twice before doing something that could prove to be controversial.

Eric Cantona

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    French legend Eric Cantona was known as "The King" for his incredible skill on the pitch, but he was also the king of controversy. 

    Undoubtedly his most infamous moment, and arguably the thing he is best remembered for, was his kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan. The kick, which was accompanied by a series of punches, earned Eric Cantona an eight-month ban and almost landed the Frenchman in prison.

    The Manchester United idol had been in trouble before; he once punched his own goalkeeper.

    The commentator in the video couldn't have been more wrong when he referred to Cantona's red card as the "morning headline." Cantona's actions were hugely controversial, and he was sentenced to two weeks in jail before his sentence was reduced to 120 hours of community service.

    It seems almost certain that the fan Cantona assaulted had racially abused him, but common assault still wasn't the best idea. 

    Still, the incident did give us one of the greatest pieces of philosophy I have ever come across: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."


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    Pepe is not the most popular footballer. His most serious offence, to date, was his assault on Javier Casquero in 2009. The Real Madrid defender gave Casquero a little push in the box, and, when Casquero fell over, Pepe lost control.

    He kicked the midfielder twice, punched another player and insulted an official, earning himself a 10-game ban.

    Unfortunately, Pepe hasn't learned from his mistake. He recently stamped on Lionel Messi's hand and has drawn criticism from Madrid-based papers.

    Pepe is certainly a divisive figure. His history of diving and foul play have made him especially unpopular with Barcelona fans and isn't helping Real Madrid in their fight to overcome their bitter rivals.

Diego Maradona

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    Diego Maradona is one of the finest footballers to ever grace the football field. The Argentine was a prolific scorer and mesmerising with the ball at his feet. He was also a highly controversial player and served two lengthy bans for failing drugs tests.

    Maradona really struggled with drugs in the later stages of his career; whilst at Napoli, in 1991, he tested positive for cocaine and was banned from football for 15 months. He failed another test in 1994, testing positive for ephedrine and receiving another 15-month suspension. He eventually retired in 1997, after failing another test.

    In recent years, Maradona seems to have sorted his life out. He had a not disastrous spell in charge of the Argentinian national side and seems to have overcome the weight problems that dogged him after his retirement.

    Diego Maradona is currently manager of Al-Wasl FC, a team in the UAE. 

Adrian Mutu

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    Adrian Mutu was signed by Chelsea back in 2003 for a fee of around £15 million and got off to a good start at the club, until he tested positive for cocaine.

    Unsurprisingly, this failure, along with the seven-month ban it resulted in, did not go down with the club. Mutu was sacked, and Chelsea have since managed to win successive court cases as they look to get a refund from Mutu.

    If his latest appeal fails, he will have to shell out a huge €17m fine.

    More recently, Mutu failed a drugs test whilst playing for Fiorentina and was sentenced to a nine-month ban, although it was later reduced to six months.

    Earlier this season Mutu was banned for three matches for punching an opponent. Some people never learn. 

Nicolas Anelka

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    French striker Nicolas Anelka was at the centre of a storm that well and truly sank their 2010 World Cup campaign and led to him being sent home from the tournament.

    The French FA, clearly a little peeved that everyone was laughing at them, decided to ban Anelka for the next 18 games, essentially retiring the former Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid striker from international football.

    Anelka didn't seem too bothered by the ban, claiming he'd already decided not to play for France again.

    Anelka does not have the finest of reputations when it comes to dealing with those in authority. Early in his career, he was known as "Le Sulk," and he has found himself in plenty of hot water down the years. Perhaps his move to China, not yet famed for its football, will keep him out of the headlines for a while.

Elizabeth Lambert

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    Elizabeth Lambert became a YouTube sensation after assaulting several opposition players during a college game back in 2009. Incredibly, despite some ridiculous pieces of violence, the defender was not sent off during the match, getting away with just a yellow card.

    Unfortunately for her, the footage went viral, and she was banned from playing indefinitely in November 2009. She was allowed to return in August 2010 and seems to have done a better job of keeping out of the news.

René Higuita

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    Colombian legend René Higuita is best known for inventing the Scorpion Kick and was hugely popular due to his eccentric style of play.

    However, Higuita did not just create controversy with his revolutionary style of goalkeeping. In 1993, the goalkeeper found himself in jail after assisting in a kidnapping. Higuita delivered the ransom and ensured the safe return of the victim but received money for doing so. In Colombia, it is illegal to profit from a kidnapping, so Higuita ended up spending seven months in jail.

    In 2004, the Colombian tested positive for cocaine and did not play again until 2005. However, Higuita is best remembered for the controversy he created on the pitch, a testament to his footballing ability, as well as his entertainment value, given his off-field problems.

Roy Keane

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    Roy Keane's tackle on Alf-Inge Håland in 2001 is hugely infamous and often cited as one of the worst tackles ever. However, at the time, the foul earned Keane a standard three-match ban.

    That was until Keane released his autobiography. Here's a quotation from the book, published in 2002: "I'd waited long enough. I f****** hit him hard. The ball was there (I think)."

    That admission led to the FA fining Keane an incredible £150,000 and banning him for a further five games.

    Roy Keane enjoyed a highly successful, but thoroughly controversial career. His falling out with Mick McCarthy in the build up to the 2002 World Cup was widely reported, as were his all too frequent red cards.

Joey Barton

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    Joey Barton has made headlines for all the wrong reasons during his career. He has been convicted of assault, both of a teammate and whilst on a night out, and has frequently courted controversy with his comments to the media.

    His fight with Ousmane Dabo whilst the pair were at Manchester City earned him a 12-game ban, six of which were suspended for two years. He was also banned by the club until the end of the season.

    Barton spent 74 days in prison for beating up a man, but seems to have turned his life around in more recent times. He is now best known, off the field, for his tweets, which vary in subject from philosophy to which opponent has annoyed him recently.