Worst Role Models In Football History – Footballers (or soccer players if you’re North American) have to be supremely athletic to cover the 110 to 120 yards (100 to 110 meters) of the soccer pitch, all the while going for the ball or dodging other players. It’s not so surprising that the aggressive spirit that it takes to excel at the game sometimes boils into hits that are more violent than they should be, confrontations between players on the pitch, and other assorted bad behavior.
At times, players are simply single-minded in their pursuit of the ball, and unfortunately, these are the times when other players and their breakable body parts just get in the way. Things like this can happen in the heat of battle. Other times, a moment’s surge of anger and rage over an incident can send a player into overdrive, and result with their opponents going to the hospital. All it takes is a moment’s bad decision based on adrenaline-fueled emotions as you’re racing down the pitch. What could possibly go wrong?
When it comes to the next generation of footballers, let’s just say that the combination of athletic talent, teenagers, and lots of money can be a combustible one. While most players get a reputation for their game play, some garner even more headlines for their antics out of uniform.
From single notorious incidents to bad boys who just can’t keep out of trouble, here’s a look at 12 of the soccer world’s worst role models. And remember, these are trained professionals — don’t do this at home
12. Mario Balotelli
Some players are a lightning rod for controversy wherever they go. Italian striker, Mario Balotelli, is one of those players. He’s best known for playing in the Premier League club Liverpool and the Italy national team. Mario Balotelli Barwuah – known as Super Mario – hit the headlines a lot during his two and a half years at Manchester City, but not for his game play. He crashed his Audi R8 near the training ground just two weeks after being signed in 2010. He was reportedly fined £100,000 for pitching darts at youth players from a window. He set his own house on fire in 2011, the day before a game, by setting off fireworks inside it (ironically, a week before being named an ambassador for firework safety). From Manchester City, he went to Milan for a year and a half in 2013, then to Liverpool. However, after an unsuccessful season at Liverpool, he went back to Milan on loan in 2015. The contract to loan Balotelli to Milan for a season in 2015 contained an unprecedented “anti-scandal” clause that stipulated he show up on time for practice, and behave himself both on and off the pitch. To be fair, Balotelli has faced more than his share of blatant racism from fans (even in his native Italy), and some of the many newspaper stories from his time in Manchester were proven false.