Real Madrid: Is Fabio Coentrao's Smoking Acceptable?

AJ HasanContributor IIIApril 1, 2012

Fábio Coentrão was pictured clearly smoking a cigarette at his 24th birthday party.

Should this really matter? I mean footballers are free, normal people after all.

Well, the Real Madrid faithful sure thought so. When substituted for Karim Benzema, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, Fábio received whistles and chanting of "smoker."

According to reports, José Mourinho was also very disappointed with Fábio's actions and left him off the squad due to a coaching decision for the previous match against Villarreal.

Coentrão was asked about the incident: "It was my birthday and it was an occasional thing. I am very disappointed with what has been written in the press because no one can say anything bad about me. I am an excellent professional, I have always given everything for the clubs I have represented and it is not fair to put everything in doubt because of one isolated act."

But the Portuguese left-back isn't the first footballer to ever smoke. Actually many star players, current and former, do so and here is a detailed list. 

During last summer's vacation, Mesut Özil was caught smoking, though he did provide the unconvincing excuse that he only smoked due to a bet he lost. This frustrated many Real Madrid fans who were disappointed with the German's lacking stamina longer than 60 minutes.

However, should this be a big issue? I mean, Zidane and Maradona are considered the best players in history despite their smoking habit. The Frenchman was seen smoking a cigarette right before a 2006 World Cup semi-final against Portugal, arguably playing one of the best matches of his career.

Of course, excessive tobacco can cause damage to the lungs and hinder breathing significantly and footballers should strive to be in the best physical shape possible. 

Previously, Roberto Mancini was OK with Mario Balotelli's smoking habit, citing that smoking five to six cigarettes a day was not "a lot." However, recently the manager became furious after finding out that the Italian striker had completely crossed the line by smoking in the dressing room, even before official matches.

Most notably, after a defeat against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, the English footballers were seen openly smoking cigars and drinking beer through a leaked image from Ledley King's phone. Perhaps this is why they were eliminated.

What do you think about footballers smoking? Should there be a punishment for players who do smoke, or is it a non-issue?