10 Men Who Shamed Soccer

Tony MabertContributor ISeptember 7, 2012

10 Men Who Shamed Soccer

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    Football may be the greatest and most popular sport on the planet, but like any other game it certainly attracts its fair share of undesirables.

    That element is not only confined to those hurling abuse from the stands or screaming at the TV screen in bars. It is also on the pitches, in the dugouts and the most powerful seats at the governing bodies.

    Here are 10 men from all levels of the game who have helped give the sport a bad name. No doubt you will be able to think of some more, so please feel free to share them below.

Joey Barton

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    When Barton was in the stands to watch his first game in the Stade Velodrome as Marseille's new signing last weekend, there was a banner welcoming him which read: "Welcome, sweet and tender hooligan."

    The banner was a reference to a song by Barton's favourite band, The Smiths, and it is by professing his love for Morrissey and re-tweeting quotes by Nietzsche that he has somehow managed to make many more forgiving of his violent past.

    Every man deserves another chance after serving their time, but Barton's previous convictions for assault came back to the fore on the final day of last season when, completely unprovoked, he booted Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in the leg.

    Barton received a red card, and City came from behind to win the match and subsequently the league title. Barton, handed a 12-game ban in English football for his actions, was booted out of QPR. It might be only a matter of time before Marseille are sick of him, too.  

Sepp Blatter

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    Blatter may be the man at the very top of the world game, but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of the governing body's headquarters in Nyon who would endorse him.

    This is the man who has endured myriad allegations of corruption, bribery and financial mismanagement.

    A man who once said the women's football would gain better media coverage by wearing tighter shorts.

    A man who only recently caved in to the tremendous weight of pressure to work on implementing goal-line technology.

    A man who, after presiding over a highly questionable process which led to the 2022 World Cup hosting rights being awarded to Qatar, advised homosexuals that they should either not travel to the tournament or pretend not to be gay if they did go.

    Somehow, he remains in charge of the world's most popular sport, and there is little indication of that changing anytime soon.

John Terry

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    Adultery is not a crime, nor should footballers have any greater moral burden to stay faithful to their partners than any other member of society.

    But when the news broke that Terry had been having an extra-marital affair with the mother of England and former Chelsea teammate Wayne Bridge's child, just a short while after they had split up, Terry's philandering became a football issue as well as a tabloid story that had the whole nation talking.

    The scandal led to Bridge taking himself out of the running for selection for the 2010 World Cup squad, and the fallout saw Terry stripped of the England captaincy and helped cause a rift in the England camp during their terrible campaign in South Africa.

Thierry Henry

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    Henry is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of his generation. A World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Premier winner, Arsenal's record goalscorer is an exceptional talent.

    However, his legacy will forever be tainted by his actions in the second leg of a World Cup playoff against Republic of Ireland in 2009.

    In extra-time at the Stade de France with the aggregate score locked at 1-1, Henry twice controlled Florent Malouda's free-kick with his hand before his cross was headed home by William Gallas.

    It proved to be the goal which sent France to South Africa, but Henry's double dribble became a worldwide story which was an embarrassment for the sport. 

Sulaiman Al Fahim

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    Few men have done more to discredit the phrase "fit and proper person" than Sulaiman Al-Fahim, the erstwhile owner of Portsmouth.

    After the Dubai businessman helped broker the deal that saw Sheikh Mansour buy Manchester City in 2008, his own hunger for publicity led to him seeking a club of his own.

    That led him to buy Portsmouth the following year. Just a few months after passing the Premier League's "fit and proper persons" test, players wages began to go unpaid and the South Coast club began its spiral of relegation, debt and multiple changes of ownership, which now leaves them in League One just four years after winning the FA Cup.   

Luciano Moggi

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    The former Juventus director has become the poster boy for the "Calciopoli" match-fixing scandal, which rocked Italian football in 2006.

    While there were others from AC Milan, Lazio and Napoli, who were also heavily involved in affecting the outcome of Serie A games, Moggi has been held up as the most influential.

    Last year he was finally sentenced to five years and four months in jail (a sentence he is unlikely to serve behind bars) and banned from football for life.

    Juve last season won the league title for the first time since they were stripped of two of their championships and relegated to Serie B because of the scandal five years ago.  

Robert Hoyzer

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    The referee was jailed in 2005 after admitting to affecting the course of a German Cup match between Bundesliga club Hamburg and lower-division Paderborn.

    Hoyzer turned whistle-blower and gave the authorities information on a Croatia-based betting syndicate, but nevertheless he was sentenced to two years and five months in prison.

    The Hoyzer case was a blow for German football, which prides itself on its thorough and fair running of the game from the authorities to the fan-ownership model of so many of its top clubs. 

The CAF Executive Committee

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    The world was stunned in January 2010 when, on the eve of the African Cup of Nations beginning in Angola, a bus transporting the Togo national team was attacked by separatist terrorists in the province of Cabinda.

    Two people, a coach and a press officer, were killed during the attack, and two days later the Togolese government withdrew their team from the tournament.

    Rather than show compassion at such a tragic time, CAF, African football's governing body, insisted on sticking rigidly to the tournament rules by banning Togo from the next two tournaments and fining them $50,000 due to governmental interference in a sporting matter.

    The sanctions were later lifted on appeal, no doubt much to the disappointment of the desk jockeys at CAF headquarters.

Roy Keane

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    The former Manchester United captain is a genuine legend at the club, and was one of the best midfielders in the world at his peak. But his propensity for intimidation and violence gave his career a chilling dark side, something perfectly illustrated in the Manchester derby in 2001.

    Keane exacted revenge in the most brutal fashion after Alf-Inge Haaland had made the mistake of accusing the United midfielder of feigning injury three years earlier.

    Keane's horrific knee-high challenge on the Norwegian deservedly earned him a red card with four minutes remaining in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. But perhaps even more shocking than the tackle itself was Keane's apparent lack of remorse, proven by this extract from his autobiography.

    In the book he wrote: "I'd waited long enough. I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you ****."

Diego Maradona

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    Maradona may be arguably the greatest player ever to kick a football, but his career has been littered with transgressions and incidents which are not great advertisements for the sport.

    As a player, Maradona gained notoriety for his infamous "Hand of God" goal against England at the 1986 World Cup, but far more serious were his testing positive for cocaine while a Napoli player in 1991 and then again at the 1994 world Cup, this time for the stimulant ephedrine.

    Following his retirement in 1998, he was handed a suspended jail term for firing an air rifle at journalists outside his house.

    In his later years he has hardly covered himself in glory either, telling journalists who criticised him to "suck it" after he narrowly qualified for the 2010 World Cup.