The sporting arena has not only produced breathtaking moments but also some unsavoury incidents involving players. There have been times when players have crossed the line of appropriate behaviour and were found guilty of improper conduct. These episodes have left a bad impression on sports and sullied the image of the sports fraternity. Some players have got away lightly despite being repeated offenders whereas some have been not so unfortunate for these unsporting acts. Here are some of the infamous episodes where players were seen flouting the code of conduct they were supposed to uphold.
Five ugly on-field episodes involving prominent sportsmen
Zinedine Zidane (2006 World Cup Final)
This incident will remain as one of the worst in football history and a big blot on the otherwise illustrious career of France’s Zinedine Zidane. The setting was the 2006 FIFA World Cup final and the tension was palpable in the air. Zizou, as he is popularly known, chose the last match of his career to display his dark side when he head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi out of the blue in the high-voltage encounter. As per Zizou’s sister, the Italian player had abused him and the head attack was a natural response to that. Resultantly, Zidane got the red card for this unruly act and Italy won the final in the penalty shoot-out (5/3).
Luis Suarez (World Cup, 2014)
Luis Suarez of Uruguay is renowned for his incredible talent as a footballer but he is also notorious for his biting episodes on the field. In the group match against Italy in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Suarez again bit his opponent Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder. The Italian became his third victim of a dental attack after Otman Bakkal and Branislov Ivanovic. However, Suarez escaped immediate punishment despite Chiellini aggressively showing the red marks on his shoulder to the referee. Later on, when Brazilian TV showed the incident repeatedly to the viewers, FIFA banned him for nine internationals, all football for four months and fined him 100,000 Swiss francs.
Neymar, Bacca (Copa America, 2015)
This is another undesirable moment in the soccer arena. In the 2015 Copa America, Brazilian superstar Neymar triggered a fight after he hurled the ball at a Colombian defender from point-blank range after the end of the match. This triggered a scuffle and Neymar had a Zidane-moment when he head-butted Colombian goal-scorer Jeison Murillo. This aggravated the situation further as Colombian Carlos Bacca got involved in a tussle with Neymar. Both the players were shown a red card for the bad on-field conduct.
Ahmed Shehzad (Dambulla ODI, 2014)
Though there was no physical violence involved, such unpleasant matters should be nipped in the bud and the guilty should be given harshest of the punishments. The occasion was the third ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shehzad made some inappropriate remarks about religion to his Sri Lankan counterpart Tilakaratne Dilshan on the field as they were going towards their respective dressing rooms. In fact, Shehzad was caught on camera telling Dilshan the virtue of being part of a particular religious community. However, Shehzad was spared of any kind of severity for the “friendly advise”, in the words of the then PCB chief, as the Sri Lankan board chose not to file a case. Nonetheless, Shehzad was heavily criticized by several former cricketers for the unsolicited counselling.
Michael Slater (Mumbai Test, 2001)
This was the match prior to the historic Kolkata clash, where India stunned Australia with some miraculous displays. In the Mumbai saga, Rahul Dravid was at the crease and he played a pull shot that missed Michael Slater’s hand by a whisker. But the Australian decided to claim the catch but was denied by the third umpire. This infuriated Slater and he started getting verbally abusive with Dravid and the on-field umpire S Venkataraghavan. The replays were conclusive that the ball touched the ground before hitting the hands of Slater but the Australian was not convinced. However, in a highly shocking development, Slater was, later on, let off with a small fine by the match referee for the wild on-field behaviour. Though after a few weeks, he got banned for a few matches by the ICC.