The Most Controversial Soccer Stars

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Sports and controversy often go hand-in-hand, with many players often getting caught up in the heat of the moment and unleashing their aggression. Players often do that in a variety of ways, whether it is off the pitch shenanigans or on-field meltdowns.

Either way, it makes for captivating reading for sports fans around the world, as they get embroiled in the stories that are dominating the sport. These stories also ensure that gamblers are more knowledgeable before making a bet, and you can examine the best welcome offers at Over the years there have been a number of controversial soccer stars, and these are three of the most controversial.

Paulo Di Canio

Controversy followed Paulo Di Canio wherever he went, but for the most part, he was loved by fans because of his commitment to the cause. On the pitch, he was brilliant and produced moments that mere mortals could only dream of replicating. However, his actions would often drop him in hot water. The controversy surrounding him meant that he was forced to leave his native Italy due to the confrontations that he was having with opposing coaches. However, a move to England did little to calm his temper.

One of the most controversial moments of his career came in a Premier League match in 1998. Referee Paul Alcock sent off Di Canio, but instead of walking off the pitch as instructed, he took his anger out on the official. He pushed Alcock to the ground, which led to immediate backlash. Di Canio was punished ruthlessly, as he was banned for eleven games.

Mario Balotelli

There is no shortage of tails to tell about Mario Balotelli as he has constantly been involved in controversial moments throughout his career. The Italian was expected to be one of the best players in the world after being named the Golden Boy in 2010, and there were high hopes that he was going to achieve that potential at Manchester City. However, there were quickly doubts surrounding whether it would happen for the Italian, with manager Roberto Mancini also claiming that Balotelli was ‘unmanageable’.

One of the best examples of Balotelli being controversial came on the eve of the much anticipated Manchester derby in the 2011-12 season. United were the reigning champions, but this was expected to be the season the City competed for the honor. On the eve of the derby, it was reported Balotelli set a house on fire after setting off fireworks indoors. The Italian went on to play the following day and scored the opening goal. In typical fashion, he made headlines again by showing off a t-shirt that said ‘Why Always Me’. City went on to win the game 6-1, but Balotelli’s career at City was already looking unlikely to play out as many expected.

Diego Maradona




It’s often the most gifted players that are flawed with controversy, and one of the biggest examples of that is Diego Maradona. The Argentinean is considered to be one of the best players of all-time and played for Barcelona, Napoli, and Sevilla during his career. It was during his time with Napoli that he would reach god-like status.

However, controversy also followed him. He was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the USA after testing positive for ephedrine, and he also had numerous failed drugs test, which resulted in fines in excess of up to $70,000. However, coaches would often look past this for Napoli, as he constantly delivered on the pitch, and twice ensures that the club won the Serie A title.

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona is another player that was caught up in controversy throughout his career, but yet again there was no denying his ability on the pitch. He was heralded as the ‘king’ during his days at Old Trafford. Cantona spent five years at Old Trafford after deciding to join the Red Devils from their arch-rivals Leeds United. The signing was a controversial one, as not many players have moved between the two clubs. Regardless, the signing was seen as good business by both sides, with Leeds receiving £1.2 million. However, there was no questioning who the winning team was after Cantona’s five-years at United.

He won four Premier League titles and two FA Cups during his time at the club. However, his most controversial moment came during the 1994-95 season as he made global headlines when he kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan after receiving racist abuse. There were calls for Cantona to be departed from England, but that never materialized. However, he was handed a two-week prison sentence and was banned from the English game for the remainder of the season. United stood by Cantona, and he went on to win the Premier League with the club the following season.

Roy Keane

Cantona’s teammate Roy Keane was no stranger to controversy throughout his career. Keane remains the most successful Irish footballer of all-time and was the captain of Manchester United throughout the period of dominance between 1993 and 2005. Keane is still regarded as a legend at Old Trafford, as he won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and the Champions League. However, there were huge controversies throughout his career. One of the most notable came in 2001 as he was sent-off for a high challenge on Alf-Inge Haaland. Keane’s autobiography, released in 2002 shone more light on his actions as it was revealed that he intentionally set out to end Haaland’s career.

Just over one year later and Keane hit the headlines again as he was involved in a bust-up with the Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy at the 2002 World Cup. His actions saw him sent home from the competition. Keane’s career at Old Trafford also came to a controversial end as he admitted that he was pushed out of the club due to rising tensions between himself and Sir Alex Ferguson. His parting shot with the club was also a controversial interview with MUTV where he criticized teammates John O’Shea, Rio Ferdinand, and Darren Fletcher for their effort on the pitch.