Where there is fire there is most definitely smoke. When it comes to football brawls, the two seem to go hand in hand. After all the struggles on the pitch often lead to increasing pressure which does tend to spill over on occasions.
At the end of the day, when players cross that white line it is simply a case of the toughest will only survive. In fact, players and teams will stoop to any level sometimes in order to manufacture a victory. This in turn can lead to growing frustration as far as the opposition is concerned. This is because players will adopt a number of different measures to ensure a win.
One major aspect which needs to be taken into consideration is time wasting. Whether it is a defender or a goal keeper, time wasting can be an effective measuring in riling the opposition. On the other hand, simulation or diving can be another way in which players can wind up an opposing player. The more these tactics are carried out, the more a player will become aggravated by the situation. This is especially the case if a side is down in a game or the match is well into overtime.
It can cause a heat of the moment situation where tempers become flared, whilst managers have also become entangled in on field activities. Take for example Jose Mourinho who poked the eye of former Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova during his tenure at Real Madrid.
From a controversial sliding tackle to ungentlemanly conduct, a manager or a player can fly off the handle at any given time. Yet, the ugly side of football has reared its ugly head on occasion. Here is the rundown of the top 10 biggest brawls of all time.
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10 Serbia U21 vs. England U21
One of the worst brawls was in the recent game between England’s Under 21 and Serbia. The whole night was marred by continuous racism from the terraces as former manager Stuart Pearce lambasted the actions of Serbian fans. During the game which took place in Serbia, a host of black players were abused such as Tottenham left back Danny Rose. The tension grew even more thanks to a late strike by Connor Wickham which did not add the overall atmosphere. Everything was bubbling on the surface as Rose was given a second yellow card. After receiving his marching orders, Rose was seen gesturing to the home fans. As the referee blew the whistle, a mass brawl on the pitch erupted as both teams decided to take matters into their own hands. Among the innocent parties, England goalkeeping coach Martin Thomas was the subject of a head butt, whilst Steve Wigley also sustained a kick to his mid drift. Other disgraceful incidents included goal keeper Jack Butland being subjected to having a seat thrown in his direction.
9 Ricardo Fuller vs. Andy Griffin
Not only are teams guilty of brawls but it can happen between team members too. One of the more famous episodes involved Andy Griffin and Jamaican international Ricardo Fuller. At the time, they were both playing for Stoke City but there was certainly no team spirit demonstrated during one particular game. Back in 2008, both turned out for the Potters in a loss to West Ham United.
However, it was left down to the decision of the referee to intervene and show a little bit of common sense. After Fuller aimed a slap at his own skipper, the man in the middle had no choice but to dismiss him for his actions. This was after Stoke City had conceded a goal to Carlton Cole. In the aftermath, Fuller literally pointed the finger of blame towards his team mate Griffin. As a result, Fuller was banned for three games and had to pay a $45,000 for his misdemeanours.
8 Nacional vs. Penarol
Considered to be one of the fiercest rivalries in the world, it has been dubbed the Uruguayan Clásico by some. Both teams are based in the city of Montevideo and tensions between Nacional and Peñarol have spilled over many time. However, they have played an integral role in the development of football across South America. They are both highly respected, especially in the Americas and have won more than half a dozen Copa Libertadores between them. However, turn the footballing clock back to April 1990 where this date was go down in the history books. In spite of a 0-0 draw, the heat was very much on the field of play where an astonishing 22 cards were dished out. The referee had no choice but to abandon the game in the 85th minute.
7 Sheffield United vs West Bromwich Albion
Known as the infamous 'Battle of Bramall Lane' the match between Sheffield United and West Brom was a real ding dong affair. Taking place in 2002, it was to go down in the books as one of the toughest games that the Blades had ever witnessed. Consequently, the match ended up with Sheffield United having three men shown the red card as well as two being injured. This meant that they only had six players remaining on the pitch. As the rules state that there should be at least seven men, the referee abandoned the game and West Brow was given an automatic 3-0 win.
6 Potiguar vs Baraúnas
There are tussles and there are scuffles, none more so than the game between South American teams Potiguar and Baraúnas. This mass brawl could have covered every blade of grass after fighting ensued. Both sides were reduced to seven men as a result of the mass brawl and all in all, eight players were given red cards for their actions. The result was irrelevant and ended up in favour of Potiguar by two goals to one. With karate chops, kicks and several punches being thrown, this brawl could have gone on longer than the actual 20 seconds.
5 Lee Bowyer vs Kieron Dyer
The majority of players usually save their in fighting not to mention scraps for the training ground. Nevertheless, there are those individuals who buck this particular trend, none more so than Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer. Playing for Newcastle United at the time, the Magpies were trailing to Aston Villa by three goals to nil. In front of a packed out crowd of 50,000 fans at St. James Park, both players decided to confront their issues head on. Bowyer was offended that Dyer did not pass to him and the pair decided to lash it out between themselves. Former Manchester City player Gareth Barry attempted to calm the situation down but it was all too late. The pair was both sent off by the man in the middle and was subsequently forced to make an apology.
4 David Batty vs Graeme Le Saux
Another on field battle involving two players from the side took place back in 1995. At the time, Blackburn Rovers were enjoying a rare stint in the UEFA Champions League and made the long trip to face Spartak Moscow. Things sparked off between David Batty and ex-Chelsea defender Graham Le Saux. After less than five minutes of the game, Batty became angry after Le Saux took possession of the ball. After conceding a throw in, Batty let rip at the left back in a style which has never been repeated since. Unfortunately, Le Saux then took actions into his own hands and aimed a punch at Batty which has been replayed several times over.
3 Manchester United vs Arsenal
One of the biggest brawls of all time involved Premier League giants Manchester United and Arsenal. This took place back in October 1990 at Old Trafford and ended up in an eventual 21 man tussle. For many, this game was believed to signify the turning point when the rivalry between both clubs started. After the Arsenal left back Nigel Winterburn made a lunge on Denis Irwin, all hell broke loose on the hallowed turf. Brian McClair and several other players made beelines for the Gunners players which led to serious sanctions for both teams. Manchester United was docked one point by the governing bodies, whilst the Gunners received a two point fine. Despite this, Arsenal still managed to win the league title in the same season.
2 Manchester United vs Arsenal (Part 2)
The follow up brawl was just as provocative. In the last minute of the game, Manchester United were awarded a penalty in controversial circumstances. Both teams at the time were going for the title so everything was literally at stake. Dutchman Ruud Van Nistelrooy stepped up to the spot with the world watching. His resultant strike rattled off the crossbar as several Arsenal players surrounded the United striker. The worst offender was Martin Keown who jostled Van Nistelrooy vigorously, whilst Ashley Cole and Ray Parlour were also pushing and shoving. It was christened as The Battle of Old Trafford by the press and media as Arsenal ended the season with no defeats. This was the famous “Invincibles” season and the 0-0 draw proved to be significant for Arsene Wenger’s side. After the game, five members from Arsenal’s team were sanctioned for failing to control their players along with Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo.
1 Teniente Farina vs Libertad
Without question, the game between Paraguayan rivals Teniente Farina and Libertad goes down as the ultimate brawl in anyone’s language. Taking place in Caacupe, the referee played his part in the mad scenes which followed. After the referee had sent just two men off, events unfolded that will certainly never be repeated again. After the ensuing foul play, the referee as well as assistant referees had little choice but to flee as things became uncontrollable. In the end, the match ended with a total of a whopping 36 players receiving their marching orders.
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