A crime is an offense that is punishable by law. Crimes are divided into categories and punishments are meted out to criminals depending on the gravity of their crime. Among the harshest punishments are the dreaded death sentence and life imprisonment. Sometimes the criminal is only fined and is thus able to avoid going to the big house. The laws are set to bring about order in society. With football being one of the most popular sports in the world, the situation is worse when a footballer happens to commit a crime. This is because their team, fans and even sponsors expect them to carry themselves in a manner befitting of a role model. Some players have been known to lose personal endorsements because of crimes and some sponsors have parted ways with clubs if they think a player’s crime is being condoned. Therefore, most clubs always make sure to punish a player in order to show that they don’t agree with their actions. The punishments include suspension and fines while some have their contracts terminated by their club. Some players have managed to completely ruin both their reputation and careers through their involvement in crimes. It is thus a given that any crime committed by a player will be taken seriously.
However, players sometimes decide to provide us with some free off-pitch entertainment by committing crimes that are quite laughable. They are so stupid that they make you wonder whether the players had actually taken a leave of their senses when they got themselves into trouble over such bouts of idiocy. For most of them, the embarrassment that follows is usually quite immeasurable. Here are the 15 silliest ways footballers got themselves on the wrong side of the law.
15 Rene Higuita
The Colombian got himself in trouble in 1993. He acted as a go-between for drug lord Luis Carlos Molina when the latter’s daughter was kidnapped. He delivered the ransom to the kidnappers and the girl was handed to him. As a show of gratitude, the Molina family gave him a gift of $64,000. This got him arrested for it’s illegal to profit from kidnapping in Colombia. He went to jail and was released after seven months with the charges being dropped.
14 Peter Swan/ Tony Kay/ David Layne
In 1964 while playing for Sheffield Wednesday, the trio were discovered to have accepted money to throw a match against Ipswich. Ipswich won the match 2-0 and the three received four month jail sentences each. After being released, they were banned for life from participating in football. When the FA amended their rules to allow banned players to appeal rulings, Swan and Layne got their bans lifted and returned to Sheffield Wednesday. Tony Kay never played professional football again. A surprising aspect is that Kay was actually named man of the match in the infamous game. That was quite the masquerade he managed to pull off.
13 Charles N’Zogbia
In 2010, N’Zogbia got arrested after he came up with the ‘genius’ plan to have someone else take the theory part of his driving test. The police were alerted about the matter after irregularities were found in the theory section of his test. He was then arrested when he turned up to do the practical part of the test. He was lucky enough to only get a caution, for the maximum sentence for paying someone else to sit for your theory test is five years in prison.
12 Marlon King
King has had multiple stints in jail after several convictions. His crimes include; driving without insurance, fraudulent use of vehicle licence document, speeding, driving under the influence, sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. However, one of the most ridiculous was when he was caught driving a stolen car in 2002... You're a professional footballer! Go to a dealership!
He was convicted for receiving stolen goods and received an 18 month prison sentence. He was however released after five months and was back in his club’s team two days after his release.
11 Matty Pattison
While playing for Norwich in 2008, it was reported that Pattison woke up hungover one Sunday morning, and quickly jumped into his car wearing only a T-shirt, shoes and his underpants. He was in a hurry to get to the club’s training ground on time and avoid angering his manager. He was spotted driving erratically by the police who tailed and arrested him as he pulled up outside the training ground.
He was banned from driving for 20 months after he admitted to driving while over the legal limit with his lawyer insisting that he was fully dressed at the time of his arrest. The funniest part is that there actually wasn’t any training that Sunday.
10 Vinnie Jones
The former player forged himself an acting career by mostly playing gangsters. Unfortunately he forgot he wasn’t on a movie set when he slapped and threatened a fellow passenger while on a plane. When the flight crew tried to intervene he told them: “I can get you murdered. I can get the whole crew murdered for £3000.” The passengers who were in the upper class had to be moved to economy class because of his behaviour. His outburst got him a fine and 80 hours community service. Try not to mix up the two worlds next time.
9 Peter Storey
He got arrested for financing a plot to counterfeit gold coins and got out on bail. He then set up a brothel with three women so he could raise enough money to flee England and avoid his trial for which he was again arrested, fined and given a six month suspended sentence. He was later sentenced to three years imprisonment for conspiracy to produce counterfeit money. Years later, he spent 28 days in jail after he was caught attempting to import adult videos which he’d hidden in a spare tire.
8 Dai Thomas
During Euro 2000, he was arrested by the Belgian police and deported back to England. This was after he had joined other hooligans in disturbing the peace in Brussels. He denied all this but television footage showed him going along with a gang that was attacking people and at one point, he was seen trying to remove a metal barrier. He wasn’t charged with criminal offence but was suspended by Cardiff City. He was then fined by the club after a formal disciplinary hearing and they released from his contract with them three months later.
7 Glen Johnson/ Ben May
These two were caught trying to steal bathroom appliances by a 74-year-old security guard. The guard spotted them putting a toilet seat into a box with a cheaper price tag. They also tried to avoid paying for some taps which they hid underneath a sink at the checkout. They however didn’t seem fazed for they kept laughing even as police were called to the store. They were subsequently fined in order to avoid the matter being taken to court.
6 Mickey Thomas
He got arrested in 1993 after being caught handing out fake currency to the trainees at Wrexham, which he was then playing for. The forged currency was discovered after the trainees used them to pay for drinks while they were out at a nightclub. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail after the trial. He once joked about the incident by saying: “So Roy Keane’s on 50 grand a week. Mind you, I was on 50 grand a week until the police found my printing machine.” That’s quite the sense of humour you’ve got Thomas.
5 Diego Maradona
Maradona is known for his crazy antics but he took them to a whole new level in 1994. When journalists camped outside of his home in Buenos Aires, he was far from pleased. He crouched behind a car and fired an air gun at the reporters, injuring some of them. This was only months before he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup for failing a drug test. The case dragged on for four years and in 1998 he was given a suspended jail sentence of 2 years and 10 months.
4 Cesar Aparecido
In 1994, his team got promoted to the top division in Brazil and were awarded money for their achievement. Having known the details of the delivery, he informed his friends who then stole the cash. They then celebrated their successful heist by purchasing new cars in cash which led to them being caught. Cesar was sentenced to five years and four months in jail. He was released in 1998 and was able to return to playing football even being capped twice by Brazil.
3 Roman Bednar
On the eve of an important relegation match for his club, he was photographed buying drugs from a dealer. The most astonishing part is that the transaction took place right outside his home. The drugs consisted of a £420 bag of cocaine and cannabis. He was immediately suspended by West Brom and was later cautioned by the police. He only got a three-month ban from the FA due to the fact that he fully admitted his actions. In order to make amends, he took part in West Brom’s drugs education initiative.
2 Robert Lewandowski
Most people had a bit of a laugh when it was reported that Lewandowski could be in trouble for drinking champagne on the pitch. He drank from a celebratory bottle after Poland qualified for Euro 2016 and someone anonymously reported him to the police. Poland’s Act on Safety of Mass Events states that alcohol consumption can only take place in designated areas. Even Lewandowski couldn’t take the matter seriously and proceeded to post a message which translates as ‘cheers’ on Twitter. Surely, even in F1 drivers are allowed to swig the champagne while celebrating a podium finish.
1 David de Gea
When it comes to silly crimes, the Manchester United goalkeeper takes the cake. Literally. In 2011, de Gea nicked a £1.19 doughnut from a store. He allegedly picked up a doughnut, ate it in the magazine aisle and then tried to walk out without paying. One of the two friends he was with had also taken one. However, they were caught on CCTV, stopped by security and taken for questioning. Luckily they escaped punishment. I do hope Manchester United introduced doughnuts in their canteen to avoid a repetition of the incident.
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