An athlete can have many reasons for wanting to leave their current team. Typically, one would weigh all the factors before making a decision that will be the best for his or her future. However, in many cases, players have left their current clubs to play for a bitter rival. These moves can alienate players from fans of their former clubs. Switching sides in a rivalry is a surefire way to lose fans that are loyal to teams rather than individual players. In our current age of instant reaction on social media, the potential response in these situations can be overwhelming.
Loyalty is a quality that is fading in the modern sports environment, and as time goes on, changing teams is becoming less controversial. These moves usually only cause a scandal when players betray the goodwill they have earned at a team by leaving for their bitter enemy. Athletes can be motivated by a better chance at winning a championship, increased playing time, or a raise in salary. The motivation for these moves are rarely considered by fans that feel let down by players they once respected.
LeBron James learned his lesson after moving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers for the sunny shores of South Beach. Although, he likely could have handled the decision in a better manner, so too could the fans of Cleveland, who burned his jersey in effigy. LeBron can no longer be considered a traitor because Cleveland will soon be celebrating his return. Here are 20 players that still hold the mark of a traitor and have turned their backs on fan bases that once showed them love.
20 20. Chris Chelios – Hockey
19 19. Brian Kelly – Football
18 18. Wade Boggs – Baseball
17 17. Johnny Damon – Baseball
16 16. Deion Sanders – Football
15 15. Brett Favre – Football
14 14. Karl Malone – Basketball
13 13. Nick Saban – Football
12 12. Adam Vinatieri – Football
11 11. Bill Belichick – Football
10 10. Harry Redknapp – Soccer
9 9. Roger Clemens – Baseball
8 8. Marian Hossa – Hockey
7 7. Sol Campbell – Soccer
6 6. Carlos Tevez – Soccer
5 5. Robert Irsay – Football
4 4. Kenny Miller – Soccer
3 3. Art Modell – Football
2 2. Terrell Owens – Football
1 1. Luis Figo – Soccer
El Clasico is the biggest rivalry in the world’s most popular sport. Real Madrid and Barcelona are bitter rivals that meet several times each season and almost every match is a dramatic, exciting affair. That drama grew when Figo left Barcelona to join Real Madrid for a then-record £37.5 million. When Figo returned to the Camp Nou, he was showered with projectiles from the fans that once chanted his name. The following season, he won the La Liga title with Madrid and earned the Ballon D’Or award. The hatred of Figo rose to a fever pitch when Barca fans littered the pitch with debris that included a severed pig’s head, while he attempted to take a corner kick.
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