Football is all about competition. Players compete to; claim the most trophies with their team, win more individual accolades than teammates, have a permanent spot in a team’s starting lineup or get the most attention after a good performance. There is also the aim to play for their dream teams and get better contracts which translates to a higher salary. It’s always a case of every man for themselves as players strive to survive in their highly competitive environment. No one wants to falter as there is always someone waiting for the perfect opportunity to replace you. Some players even go as far as attempting to sabotage the performance of others or forcing them into actions that will have dire consequences for them in a bid to get them off their back. This one-upmanship has led to bitter rivalries which have seen a great number of friends turn into foes. A lot of players have had their reputation ruined because of their actions and their fans have become disillusioned by them. Some have seen their relationship with their clubs and other figures of authority suffer. This problems do not affect only the players but their teams too.
Teams usually have to find a way to deal with their player’s clashing personalities. They have to make things work even if it’s near impossible to change the mentalities adopted by some of the players. They are also sometimes left with the unenviable task of having to apologise for their player’s wrongdoing. A common side effect of players focusing too much on themselves is not being able to work constructively as a team. The team’s standing is therefore directly affected. This is usually the last straw for teams and it more often than not leads to an overhaul of personnel. Thus the cycle begins again only with different players. Here are behaviours that prove pettiness is the name of the game when it comes to footballers.
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10 Refusing to be Substituted
All players start their careers as a substitute in a particular match. It’s always a nervous wait on the bench followed by giddying relief when it’s actually time to go onto the pitch. Lionel Messi seemed to have forgotten that time in his life when he engaged in some bratty behavior during a game against Eibar last year. Luis Enrique attempted to substitute him and bring on Munir El Haddadi but got ignored despite calling out to Messi. He then had to take off Neymar instead. He should try and be more considerate towards those who only get a handful of chances to prove themselves. He was after all, one of those kids about a decade ago.
9 Not Pulling One’s Weight
It’s common for players to only concentrate on their main duties and forget about the rest. Thus you’ll find fullbacks hanging back the whole game instead of getting the ball forward and attacking players not defending when the team loses the ball. In the case of Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic, the problem has been the latter as his midfield partner Cesc Fabregas is more of an offensive player. The strain of covering for Fabregas last season seems to have left him exhausted. The back four aren’t well protected thus their defence has been breached on multiple occasions. Things would be much better if his teammates could occasionally lend a helping hand.
8 Stealing all the Glory
It’s always a great feeling to score. It’s even better if this happens in a big game especially a final. However, it’s important to acknowledge the true value of your goal. Cristiano Ronaldo should’ve done this in the 2014 Champions League final before launching into his outrageous goal celebration taken right out of Mario Balotelli’s book. It was the fourth in a 4-1 win surely it didn’t even matter, the match was already won. It would have been a bit more understandable if he was coming out of a goal drought. Maybe his main aim was for it to be talked about a lot in that case mission accomplished.
7 Disrespecting Opponent’s Home Turf
Home grounds are usually sacred to most if not all players. This is why it’s always important to win home matches. Unfortunately for Getafe, Barcelona didn’t let them mourn their home loss in peace on Halloween. After the match, some Barcelona players proceeded to vandalize the away dressing rooms by smearing red paint all over the bathroom. They also interrupted a press conference conference being given by a Getafe player after apparently attempting to scare their manager instead. Luckily, it was all forgotten after their captain apologized to his Getafe counterpart. I have a suspicion things wouldn’t have been swept under the rug had this happened away at Real Madrid.
6 Hijacking Penalties/Free Kicks
Teams usually have their designated penalty and free kick takers. This is usually because they are highly skilled in that particular field. Occasionally, these players willingly let other teammates take over their duties and sometimes a particular teammate forces the issue. This could either be a good decision or a big mistake. Thus when the Spanish team let Sergio Ramos take the penalty in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup Final, it wasn’t one of their best decisions. They were already trailing 3-0 against Brazil and Ramos shot the ball past the post. Not exactly a proud moment considering they lost the match.
5 Public Feuding with Clubs
Players often have disagreements with their clubs over a number of things. The thing is, unless it’s a matter of grave concern, these issues are usually solved internally without involving outside parties. However, West Brom striker Saido Berahino decided to take things public when his club refused to sell him to Tottenham. He went to Twitter and after insinuating he had been badly treated, proclaimed that he would never again play for the club’s chairman. Wrong move, for he had to swallow his pride and go back to play in front of fans who had become disenchanted. How embarrassing.
4 Showing Support for a Rival Team
Supporting other teams is still considered a taboo for professional footballers. It’s even worse when the team happens to be your across town rivals. Thus Inter Milan fans were far from pleased when Mario Balotelli did just that. When he appeared on a comedy show in 2010, he was gifted an AC Milan jersey with his name on it since he was a childhood fan of theirs and was later even pictured wearing the shirt.
It wasn’t a smart move considering he was also having problems with Jose Mourinho who was managing Inter then. On the upside, he did eventually join his beloved team.
3 Ball Hogging
It’s one of the easiest way to kill a good relationship between teammates. Players choose not to pass to teammates because they either want to show off their dribbling skills or to prevent other teammates from outshining them. In the case of Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, it’s probably both. In their game against Stuttgart recently, Lewandowski was left fuming when Robben refused to pass him the ball on more than one occasion.
Having come out of injury recently, Robben is likely under pressure to prove his worth and probably sees Lewandowski’s recent great form as a threat. Bayern might be cruising at the moment but one day such behaviour will be their downfall. Even then, these two players might probably still not get along.
2 Duping Clubs
It’s become a regular occurrence to see players begin negotiations with a club only to abruptly switch their allegiance to another one when more money is offered. In some cases, the player only uses the other club as bait in order to get a raise or contract extension from his current one.
This is what is believed to have happened to Manchester United before this season began when Sergio Ramos renewed his contract with Real Madrid. This was after he’d apparently made known his desire to join United who were left shocked by his decision. The main disadvantage in such a situation is that the club most likely won’t be interested when you actually do want to leave.
1 Goading Opponents
Messing with opposing fans is one thing but riling up fellow players is another. Tell that to Patrice Evra. Luis Suarez had earlier refused to shake his hand after Evra previously accused him of racial abuse and there were rumours of another clash having occurred between them at halftime. After the game ended 2-1 in United’s favour, Evra went on to celebrate the win right in front of Suarez. It’s a surprise this didn’t lead to more drama as this had become a common practice between the two players.
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