Vinnie Jones, Eric Cantano and even Pele show that footballers and actors aren't always that far apart, having made the seamless transition from football pitch to Hollywood. Today, even more than ever before, the world of soccer is rife with deception. From cheats and divers to liars and racketeers, where there's money to be made, there are inevitably those who will go to great lengths to trick and deceive either their opponent, the referee or the general public.
In 2015, what most have known for a long time became established fact, that FIFA have been and are corrupt. Their lies and deception is probably the worst of the lot; if the sport's governing body cannot be trusted then what hope can we hold out for everyone else. It is also FIFA's lack of meaningful action with regards to the other forms of acting and cheating within the game which has allowed them to become so prolific and so accepted throughout the sport.
With the scope of the entire footballing world available for this list, there was no shortage of candidates. The list includes players, coaches, managers, officials, fraudsters, and some who are difficult to even give an official title. The game would be better off, at least in part, if it weren't for some of the actions of the people on this list. They are the people who remove the good nature of honesty, fair play and integrity from the beautiful game. Here are the top 15 best actors in world soccer:
He is one of the finest players of his generation; his technique, dribbling and long-range strikes were a thing of beauty, but there was an ugly side to the Brazilian playmaker's game. He will forever be tainted by his antics in the 2002 World Cup semi-final against Turkey. Brazil had a great tournament, winning the World Cup for a record fifth time, and it was the magic of the "Three R's" (Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho) which earned them particular plaudits. However, in the win over Turkey, Hakan Unsal kicked the ball towards Rivaldo, and it struck the Brazilian on his shin. Rivaldo dropped to the floor, clutching his face. The acting was good enough for the referee, who handed Unsal a second yellow and sent him off as Brazil marched into the final.
14 Didier Drogba
Another great striker, another man plagued by unnecessary antics. For almost a decade Drogba led the Chelsea line superbly. Powerful, fast, able to shoot with both feet and brilliant in the air, Drogba scored 157 goals for Chelsea, many of which were crucial. The only thing Drogba did more often than scoring goals was rolling around on the floor as if he'd just been shot. His antics became most noted during the 2008 season, when Drogba threatened to leave Chelsea due to the accusations that he was a cheat by the English media. Drogba is currently a free agent having been released by Chelsea.
13 Delroy Facey
Delroy Facey is a journeyman striker, who has played for a number of clubs ranging from the Premier League to the ninth tier of English football, with his longest spells coming at Huddersfield Town and Notts County. Facey came to national attention in 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of match fixing. The Grenada international's case did not reach court until April of this year, where he was found guilty and jailed for two-and-a-half years.
We know that diving and conning referees has become a major problem in the men's game, but players like Brazil's Erika show that it is also a growing problem in the women's game. In the quarter-final of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, Brazil led 2-1 against the U.S.A. with only minutes on the clock. Erika decided to take a tumble, despite having no players anywhere near her, and went as far as being taken off on a stretcher, before sprinting back onto the field. Justice was done as the U.S. scored in the dying seconds of the game before winning on penalties.
11 Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger does have an act, but it is about as one-dimensional as that of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Frenchman has been trying to convince the football world for years that he never watches the games. When pressed about an incident that has gone his team's way, Wenger conveniently never manages to have a clean view or be looking at all, but when a decision goes against the Gunners, you can bet your bottom-dollar that an eagle-eyed Wenger will be on the case and have his complaints at the ready.
10 Luis Suarez
The world of soccer's great pantomime villain, how could Suarez possible miss out on a list of the game's great actors? The Uruguayan could certainly get the part of Dracula, having bit three players to date. His acting prowess extends further than that though, and few players are more well-trained in taking a tumble than the lovable rogue. He also managed to pull of the role of goalkeeper with some expertise in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final, sent off after handling the ball on the line to deny Ghana a last minute winner. It is worth mentioning that Suarez also plays the role as one of the best players in the world very well, but he may always be remembered for the dark arts of his game.
9 Ali Dia
There are some levels of deception that seem beyond the realm of even the most cunning of footballers, one of which might be tricking a Premier League club into giving you a contract when you cannot, in fact, play football. Yet that is exactly what Senegalese part-timer Ali Dia managed to do in 1996. Dia had a fellow university student ring up Southampton manager Graeme Souness, pretending to be George Weah, and telling Souness that Dia was his cousin and a Senegal international. He was handed a three-month contract, subbed on in one game before being subbed back off after Souness realized he'd been duped, in what will always go down in one of the game's most bizarre incidents.
8 Sergio Busquets
With victory over Juventus, Sergio Busquets added a third Champions League trophy to his quite incredible list of honors, still aged only 26. Since working his way into the Barca first team in 2008, the Spaniard hasn't looked back, seeing off the likes of Yaya Toure and Cesc Fabregas to cement his spot in the Catalan giants starting XI. He is an accomplished reader of the game and passer of the ball, but most of all, Busquets gives Barca a grit and nastiness, doing the dirty work that Xavi, Iniesta, Messi & co do not. His appalling play acting got Thiago Motta sent off in the Champions League semi-final, and Busquets has been roundly criticized for his elaborate acts of deception ever since.
7 Diego Maradona
They say there is no genius without a touch of madness, and El Diego had more than just a touch. Arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, Maradona inspired a markedly average Argentina team, with the exception of himself, to World Cup glory in 1986. Heavy drinking, eating and substance abuse ran alongside Maradona's magnificent career, almost killing him at one point. He managed to deceive the referee when he put the ball in the back of the net with his hand against England in 1986 in what became known as the 'Hand of God'. El Diego could not deceive the drug tests eight years later though, when he tested positive for cocaine at the 1994 World Cup.
6 Jose Mourinho
There is a reasonable chance that Jose Mourinho will have become the most successful manager in the history of the game when he calls time on his coaching career. One thing which Mourinho does better than any other manager in the game is create a siege mentality of us against the world at the teams he manages, often increasing the dressing room spirit and the will-to-win. Never has that been more apparent than the season just gone at Chelsea. Mourinho talked of conspiracies and campaigns against the Blues, all of which he knew were nonsense, but you cannot question the results. A great and effective act but deception nonetheless.
5 Arjen Robben
Probably the most prolific diver in the world of soccer, Arjen Robben has become one of the most feared wingers on the planet at Bayern Munich; his quick feet and lethal strikes make him a tricky customer for any full-back. However, the Dutchman adds another layer of difficulty as defenders know that he will hit the deck should he receive any contact, and sometimes even if there is no contact. His theatrics have conned many a referee, but not football fans, who have the luxury of slow-motion replays.
4 Bryan Carrasco
It is one thing to fake an injury, take a dive or exaggerate the contact received, but Bryan Carrasco is the only player to have actually hit himself in an attempt to have an opposition player sent off. In the South American Under-20 Championships, Carrasco actually grabbed the opposition player's arm and hit himself in the face with it. Thankfully, the referee paid no attention, awarding a free-kick the other way, but that does not excuse the laughable, bizarre and disgraceful actions of the Chile international.
3 Wilson Raj Perumal
Wilson Raj Perumal is a name that may not be familiar with a lot of soccer fans, but he has probably influenced a game that you have watched at one time or another. A prolific match fixer, Perumal ran a match-fixing organization in Singapore, where he claims to have fixed between 80 and 100 matches. We are not talking about third division Singaporean games either, Perumal takes credit for both Nigeria and Honduras reaching the 2010 World Cup finals as well as major English FA Cup games. When he admitted the convictions, he received only a two-year sentence in a Finnish prison. Perumal profited around $3 million from his acts of cheating, and says he does not regret what he did. One has to question the love of the game not only by match fixers but also those who are swayed by their incentives.
2 Carlos Kaiser
Ali Dia may have convinced Southampton that he was a top flight footballer, but Carlos Kaiser managed to fool over 10 different clubs over almost two decades that he was cut out to play the game at the highest level. Starting out as an apprentice at Botafogo, Kaiser spent time with the likes of Puebla, Ajaccio, Fluminese, Vasco and Independiente, remaining active for around 16 years, despite only ever playing 30 first team games.
Kaiser's trick was to claim a lack of fitness when he first joined a club, before feigning injury once he had to start playing, to buy further time before the club's coaches would realize that he was useless. The Brazilian would often have fake phone calls in front of managers and club officials, pretending to be on the phone to rival clubs who were interested in signing him. The audacity stretched to the breaking point, when he pretended to be on the phone to an English club even though he could not speak the language. The great pretender and master of deception, Kaiser is now a fitness coach.
1 Sepp Blatter & co.
As stated in the introduction, problems often arrive from the top of the chain of order; or in this case, more aptly, the head of the snake. Sepp Blatter has been at FIFA for an incredible 40 years, and has been the president of the organization since 1998. Amidst corruption findings by the FBI this year, which many have suspected for well in excess of a decade, Blatter was unsurprisingly none-the-wiser, or so he claims.
The Swiss has been incompetent ever since assuming the role; always slow to act on necessary issues, or taking no action at all, FIFA essentially confirmed its corruption when it handed Qatar the 2022 World Cup. In truth, the likes of Chuck Blazer, Jose Hawilla, Daryll Warner and more deserve a place on this list, but I have bundled them all together for top spot. Blatter announced his resignation on June 2nd, and one suspects there has been an awful lot of paper shredding going on at FIFA HQ since then.