Ta’s Timeout: Most hated soccer players

Illustrated graphic of a referee in a yellow shirt giving Luis Suarez, who is wearing a Barcelona jersey, a red card, while he looks at him and shrugs.
Graphic by Nina Potischman

Hating certain players in sports is completely normal, as it’s natural to dislike the players that do the most damage to your beloved team.

In soccer, people also hate certain players for other reasons — diving, playing dirty or arrogance among them. Some fans absolutely despise these types of players and wish that they didn’t exist, while other fans feel that such players make watching the sport more entertaining. After all, who doesn’t love a good villain every now and then?

Starting with No. 3, here are the three players that I believe to be the most hated in the past couple decades.

3. John Terry

The former England and Chelsea captain had a long, successful career from 1998 to 2018, winning everything there was to win in club football. But along the way, Terry made a plethora of bad decisions that tarnished his public image forever.

Many of these decisions were made under the influence of alcohol. In 2001, Terry and a few of his Chelsea teammates were fined by the club for mocking Americans at a bar following the attacks of 9/11.

A few months later, Terry was charged with assault against a nightclub bouncer, resulting in a suspension from the national team, which caused him to miss out on the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Terry’s antics extended outside of nightclubs as well. In 2010, reports of Terry’s affair with his England teammate Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend were released. As a result, Terry lost his England captaincy and his marriage almost ended.

As if alcoholism, assault and adultery weren’t bad enough, time and time again, the English center back proved that he could not control the worst in himself on-field. In 2011, Terry clashed on the pitch with Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand, brother of Terry’s England teammate, Rio Ferdinand.

Terry was accused of racial abuse against Ferdinand, and although it was never confirmed, the allegations led to the loss of England’s captaincy once again.

Chelsea fans will remember Terry for his heroics on the pitch, but despite his footballing success, his record of misconduct will never truly be erased.

2. Sergio Ramos

At No. 2 stands another man who has many accolades to his name. The Spanish and Real Madrid captain is known for doing whatever it takes to help his team, even if it means disregarding the safety of his opponents.

Ramos currently holds the record for most yellow or red cards received in the history of the Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish national team. Most of these cards were rightfully given for rash challenges.

In the 2018 Champions League Final, Ramos once again exhibited his recklessness on the biggest stage, raising him to a level of infamy never reached before.

In a match between Real Madrid and Liverpool, Ramos’ collision with Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was perceived by many to be intentional.

Salah sustained a terrible shoulder injury and was forced off the pitch early on in the game. The injury almost caused him to miss Egypt’s entire World Cup campaign that same summer. Later on in the Champions League final, Ramos also elbowed Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius in the head on the way to Madrid’s third straight title.

Fortunately for the Ramos haters, they will not have to watch him lift another Champions League trophy this season. The defending European champions were knocked out by massive underdogs Ajax in the round of 16.

For the rest of his career, Ramos will remain at the center of public criticism — but maybe he wants to keep it that way.

1. Luis Suarez

At No. 1, I’ve selected a player who has kept his calm in recent years, but his actions throughout his career keep him firmly cemented in the top spot.

To this day, the entire nation of Ghana likely still hates the Uruguayan for what he did in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In the quarterfinal match between Uruguay and Ghana, Suarez used his hands in the penalty box to prevent a last-minute Ghana goal, resulting in a penalty kick for Ghana — one that Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan missed.

Uruguay subsequently won the match in penalty shootouts, denying Ghana and all of Africa the joy of reaching the semifinals for the first time ever.

Like other players on this list, Suarez has committed many crimes in football. While playing for Liverpool, he was charged with racial abuse against Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, an event that forever altered his public image.

Along with racism, Suarez has also been charged three times throughout his career for biting an opponent mid-match.

Along with racism, Suarez has also been charged three times throughout his career for biting an opponent mid-match.

While playing for Ajax, he bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder. In Liverpool’s colors, he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on the arm and received a ten-match suspension.

People say old habits die hard, and it appears to be true in Suarez’s case. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Suarez once again bit an opponent: this time, it was Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

It finally seems as though Suarez has truly learned his lesson, as he has not been involved in a scandal for quite awhile. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he should be forgiven for his actions.

Fortunately for these hated players, most soccer fans care more about their performance on the pitch than their troubled pasts. The reality of the sport is that there will always be villains, but luckily, there are more than enough superheroes in soccer to take them down.

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