Whilst football may be the beautiful game, played and watched by hundreds of millions of people, due its popularity and profitability it is not immune from scandal.
The sport has seen more than its fair share of corruption and misdeeds over the years, ranging from the taking of bribes at high level to match fixing, whilst there have been legion off and on the field controversies involving players, managers, and match officials.
Here are some of the biggest scandals in the history of the sport.
The Italian game has seen its fair share of corruption allegations over the years, but none were bigger than the Calciopoli scandal of 2006 when it emerged that some teams were using certain referees to influence the outcome of matches. A number of teams were caught up in the affair, but the chief culprit were Juventus, who were demoted to Serie B and stripped of the titles they had won in the ensuing period.
FIFA Corruption Scandal
FIFA, football’s governing body, were brought into disrepute in 2015 when 14 former and current officials were arrested by the FBI on racketeering charges. The organisation was accused of accepting over US $100 million in bribes from countries wanting to host the World Cup, as well as the inappropriate sale of media rights to major tournaments.
Murder of Andres Escobar
The world was shocked when Columbia captain Andre Escobar was shot dead in a parking lot just 10 days after he had conceded an unfortunate own goal that effectively led to his country being knocked out of the 1994 World Cup.
It later transpired he had been murdered on the orders of a drugs lord who had lost money betting as a result of Escobar’s actions.
Marseille were one of the most successful teams of the late 80s and 90s in France, but everything was not all that it seemed. Behind the scenes the club had been involved in widespread corruption and their high profile president Bernard Tapie was found guilty of fixing matches. The club was stripped of its league title and relegated.
Bundesliga Match Fixing Scandal 2005
German football was rocked in 2005 when it was revealed that second division referee Robert Hoyzer, along with several other officials, managers, and players, had colluded with an organised crime group top fix the outcome of games.
Bruno Fernandes Arrest
Brazilian goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes was a well-known player, who, despite the money he was making, refused to pay his girlfriend the child support she was owed. Instead, he arranged for her to be kidnapped, tortured, and then killed.
He was sent to jail, but later released on appeal and was even given a new contract, before returning to prison.
Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has found himself at the centre of not one, but two controversies. One involves having sex with an underage prostitute, and the other, which is in the process of being prosecuted through the French courts, involves an attempt to blackmail a former teammate over tapes obtained illegally.
Racism in the Champions League
The Champions’ League group match between PSG and the Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir was abandoned when both sets of players walked off the pitch in protest after racist remarks made to one of the Istanbul coaches by the Romanian match officials.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.