Football, or soccer, is the most popular sport in the world. Hundreds of millions of people around the world play it and even more love to watch it. Leagues around the world attract the best players and billions of dollars are spent to claim television and commercial rights connected with the sport. Footballers, at least the really good ones, attain star status which equals or surpasses even the biggest Hollywood actors. Countless magazines, internet sites and television shows are dedicated to the sport and its personalities as our desire for all things football seems unquenchable.
Of course, we all have our favorite team to support. No matter what team that is we also have our favorite player or players who we watch closely or reminisce about. We know all the stats, the greatest goals, the best passes and most eye-catching plays that ever been initiated by our favorite players. Yes, we idolize them and there is that little part of us that pretends we could be like them when we put on a jersey and head out to the field with our buddies to play a quick match. Sometimes, however, we can be let down a bit by those we idolize. Sometimes, a player can do something that makes us cringe or takes that shine off their image just a little bit more. Most of the time, these less than admirable acts occur on the pitch but sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, despite what we may think, footballers are just as human as you and me. This means that they make a lot of the mistakes and poor decisions which put them in the headlines as much as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
The following looks at 20 of the most notable footballers who have been caught up in cheating scandals. Not all are current players but anyone who has followed football over the years will recognize every single one of these names. Many of these cases of unfaithfulness are based on allegations or claims which can’t be verified by more than one person. That said, there are just as many players who have had several claims or allegations against them when it comes to cheating on their WAG. While it doesn’t really take away from anything they did on the pitch, some of the players below may surprise you and leave you shaking their head as their squeaky clean image heads out the door.
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20 Franz Beckenbauer
Let’s start this one off with a very famous former footballing great. On the pitch, German international Franz Beckenbauer was one of the great players of world football. Off the pitch, let’s just say “The Kaiser” was a little less impressive. According to Bleacher Report, first, when he was 18, he got his then girlfriend pregnant and refused to marry her. That didn’t go over too well with a lot of people, including his coach. Then, in 2000, well after his career was finished, he came clean for fathering a child outside of his marriage. It’s probably a little hard to argue you never cheated on your wife when there is a resulting child as evidence. He ultimately ended up leaving his second wife to marry a mistress. Nonetheless, much of this overlooked by fans and world football in general, who choose to focus on his exploits on, and not off, the pitch.
19 Mario Balotelli
In the world of football, Mario Balotelli is a journalist’s dream come true. When he’s not frustrating or infuriating his own team’s fans on the pitch, he can be entertaining the masses with his off-field antics. Getting caught trespassing at a women’s prison in Italy, posting pictures of himself wearing a onesie while watching football at home or nearly burning down his house after using fireworks indoors – you can’t say Balotelli doesn’t entertain. Unfortunately for his girlfriends, this can mean a bit of cheating. In 2012, the Italian striker was involved with now ex-girlfriend and model Rafaella Fico. A personal assistant came forward with allegations that she and Balotelli had been together while he was with Fico, according to the Daily Mail. There was the added allegation that the striker also enjoyed being done up like a woman, but that’s a whole other story. In any event, Balotelli and Fico split just a few months after the story broke.
18 Peter Crouch
Stoke City’s Peter Crouch is known for being lanky and good in the air, if not a little generous with the arms and elbows to the face of defenders. He’s the type of player who doesn’t look like a ‘bad’ guy and doesn’t really make a lot of headlines for the wrong reasons. Except for one time, that is. Crouch is married to Abbey Clancy, a model with whom he has been involved since 2006. In 2010, while engaged to Clancy, Crouch was in Madrid where he allegedly paid a call girl for sex in a cab and hotel, according to The Mirror. She then spilled the details about the encounter and the British press had a field day. Unlike most footballers caught in an affair scandal, Crouch has never publicly denied the accusations.
17 Royston Drenthe
Really, all you need to know about Dutch-born Royston Drenthe is that when asked by an interviewer how often he had sex, the former Real Madrid winger reportedly answered with his own question – “With my wife, you mean?” In 2009, reports emerged that Drenthe was having an affair with Playboy model Malena Gracia. The icing on the cake was that the player was married at the time and his wife was pregnant. Those who followed the Dutch player’s career weren’t really shocked and it helps to explain why he has bounced around so many clubs since leaving Madrid in 2012.
16 Ashley Cole
Roma defender Ashley Cole has had so many allegations of infidelity against him that he could form a five-a-side team with the women who have come forward. On the pitch, the defender is best known for his time at Arsenal and Chelsea. Off the pitch, Cole’s relationship and eventual marriage to television personality, singer and model Cheryl Tweedy caught all the headlines. Married in 2006, the couple split in 2010 after the allegations and rumors became too much for Cheryl. The split led to a rush of articles from tabloids like the Guardian and Sun concerning the sending of x-rated photos and texts which would leave Tiger Woods speechless, according to The Mirror. In all, at least five women reportedly gave details of their affairs with Cole, all of which occurred over the course of the Roma man’s relationship with Tweedy.
15 Wesley Sneijder
Most people outside of Holland recognize Wesley Sneijder thanks to his time at Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter, and Galatasaray. The Dutch star is known for his playmaking and scoring abilities both with club sides and the Dutch international team. At home, the midfielder’s name was pushed into the headlines for the wrong reason in 2009 when he was pictured kissing model Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen in a car park, according to the Daily Mail. The scandal was fuelled by the fact Sneijder had a wife, with whom he had a son. A year later, all seemed forgotten as the player and model tied the knot and continue to live together.
14 Tomas Rosicky (and the Czech national Team)
It’s a bit hard to plead innocence when a reporter, standing at your open hotel room door notices several call girls walking around, hugging and kissing various players. In 2007, after a loss to Germany, several Czech players decided to have a party in their team hotel, complete with several call girls, according to Bloomberg. A reporter pretending to be an autograph hunter managed to witness the scenes which resulted in fines for all the players involved. Rosicky became the focal point of the story, especially in the British press. While there was no proof anything happened, and Rosicky said nothing happened, having call girls in your hotel room usually means one thing. It’s like having buddies over on Super Bowl Sunday and trying to convince the wife they are there to watch Antiques Roadshow. Nonetheless, Rosicky’s model girlfriend of 11 years must have forgiven him because the couple married last year.
13 Patrice Evra
Left-back Patrice Evra established himself at Manchester United as a very capable attacking and defending player. Evra won a lot silverware during his time at Old Trafford before moving on to Juventus this season. The 31 year old was involved in more than a few altercations and scandals on the pitch and recently added one away from the field as well. In February 2013, Playboy model Carla Howe gave an interview where she said she had been involved with Evra. Howe confessed that the player had been calling and texting her for months before they met in Paris one night. The Playboy model appears to have a thing with premier League stars given she has just agreed to help Chelsea’s Juan Cuadrado ‘learn english.’
12 Olivier Giroud
Sticking to the topic of French players caught in scandals, let’s move on to Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud. Last season, the French striker found himself in the headlines after a phone picture of him in his underwear in a hotel room surfaced, according to ESPN. The picture was reportedly taken by FHM and Maxim model Celia Kay. Both Kay and the very-married Giroud denied anything happened which is totally plausible – because if we’ve learned anything so far, it’s that footballers are known to control their urges. Regardless, Giroud’s teammates had a good laugh at his expense, with Per Mertesacker pictured mocking the striker’s underwear choice during training.
11 John Terry
Chelsea’s captain and long serving defender, John Terry has less than a squeaky clean image when it comes to sex scandals. Around 2009, Terry allegedly became involved with Vanessa Perroncel, the ex-girlfriend of ex-teammate Wayne Bridge. Like any innocent (and married) footballer, Terry immediately sought a super-injunction from the British High Court to block any mention of the event in the press. Turns out that had the same effect as trying to smuggle illegal substances past customs dogs by wrapping it in bacon – it just made the press more interested. The injunction was lifted and lawsuits started flying as Terry and his “friend” desperately tried to limit the damage. Despite all the claims of innocence, Terry was stripped of his England captaincy by Fabio Capello and had a rather cold and awkward run in with Bridge in the league later that season.
10 Oliver Kahn
In the world of keepers, Oliver Kahn is a legend. A lot people didn’t like the German international because he was arrogant, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t capable between the posts. In the Bundesliga, the German keeper made his name in over 400 starts for Bayern Munich. Off the pitch, Kahn was just as divisive. He left the German public in a rage in 2003 when he left his pregnant wife Simone for 21 year old radio and television personality Verena Kerth, according to The Guardian. Kahn reconciled with Simone in 2009 but they eventually divorced later that same year.
9 Thierry Henry
In his playing days, Thierry Henry terrified defenders and scored some rather impressive goals. Away from the pitch, the former Arsenal and Barcelona striker lived a relatively quiet life, doing some modelling and being the spokesman for various companies like Renault and Nike. During a 2001 shoot for Renault, Henry met wife-to-be Claire Merry and the two were eventually wed. Around 2007, things started to go badly when Henry was reportedly linked with a make-up artist, according to the Daily Mail. Merry also allegedly found texts on Henry’s phone which were sent to another women. It all ended up in a divorce which cost the star striker £8 million.
8 Andrea Pirlo
For the longest time, midfield legend Andrea Pirlo led a very scandal free life off the pitch. Instead, the Juventus star (and his beard) were renowned for their… er his, playmaking and passing ability. He also has a reputation for being a freekick master, often making the ball curve and dip significantly. Pirlo is one of the most admired and respected players in the sport of football which is why it’s so shocking that his marriage of 13 years ended last year because of an affair. The player and wife Deborah Roversi reportedly called it quits after Pirlo had been involved with Valentina Baldini, a woman he had met at a golf course.
7 David Beckham
In life, the old saying ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ is often true. In the world of football, whether in reference to trade rumors or allegations of cheating, when more than one person comes forward with a similar story, there’s a good chance there is some truth behind it. In the case of midfielder maestro David Beckham, allegations of cheating have been around for some time. In 2004, the husband of Posh Spice was alleged to have had an affair with his personal assistant, according to the Daily Mail. A short time later, an Australian model claimed she had been involved with the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star twice. Then, in 2010, call girl Irma Nici claimed to have had an encounter with Beckham in 2007, according to NY Daily News. These claims were written off by the player as women looking for attention and money. On the other hand, if the rest of these players on this list are anything to go by, then there is just as good a chance that all this smoke is coming from a real fire.
6 Carlos Tevez
In 2010, then-Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez was caught in a bit of an affair scandal which had family and player representatives trying to make sense of it all. Tevez’s wife Vanesa had given birth to a daughter, which meant the media were all over the Argentinian star. During this time, they noted model Mariana Paesani happened to always be around the player. It all came to a head with an alleged hotel meeting between the two, according to The Mirror. In order to play down the affair, Tevez’s representatives said his relationship with Vanesa was on-again, off-again but family members said the two were very much still together. To make it all the more confusing, Tevez had a relationship with a 19 year old actress in 2011 which itself was marred by an alleged affair. Today, it all appears to be behind him as he is publicly with Vanesa.
5 Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs was a fantastic player during his long career with Manchester United. Now retired, Giggs finds himself aging very quickly as he and Louis Van Gaal work to sort out the Red Devils. While the Welsh midfielder may have been silky smooth on the pitch, in 2011 things got rather messy away from Old Trafford. Giggs has sought a media gag order to protect himself and Welsh model Imogen Thomas from potentially damaging press releases concerning an affair they had. Turns out a member of the British parliament blew the whole thing wide open by mentioning Giggs by name only hours after the injunction request. This whole episode was very damaging but didn’t come close to what happened next. With the ball rolling on the Imogen affair, it soon came out that Giggs had been having an eight-year long affair with his brother’s wife, Natasha Giggs, according to the Daily Mail.
Ronaldo is a Brazilian legend, known for his skill, who will always be linked to football greatness at both the club and international level. Unfortunately, he will also be remembered for an embarrassing sex scandal that damaged his reputation. In 2008, while engaged to Maria Beatriz, Ronaldo decided it was a good idea to have a meeting with three call girls. The added bonus here is that the call girls turned out to be men, according to Complex. One threatened to leak the whole meeting to the press if the football star didn’t give him around $30,000. Ronaldo managed to get out of that mess but the publicity tarnished his image and his engagement was called off. In the end, Beatriz patched things up with Ronaldo, despite his poor judgement.
3 Franck Ribery
Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery is known as a speedy and skilled midfielder who is one of the best in the world. In 2004, he married his wife Wahiba. Everything seemed pretty good for the French international and he was in high demand from teams all across Europe. Then in 2009, Zahia Dehar, a call girl at the time, was paid to fly to Paris and have sex with Ribery as a birthday “treat,” according to the Daily Mail. It turns out Dehar was only 16 at the time and Ribery, along with teammates Karim Benzema, were charged with paying for sex with someone under the age of 18. Ultimately, the case was dropped because there was no way to prove the money was for sex.
2 Wayne Rooney
What may be shocking about Wayne Rooney’s affairs is not that he has had them but that his girlfriend and wife Coleen McLoughlin has stayed with him throughout. The United forward developed a reputation for cheating (off the pitch) even before his move from Everton to Old Trafford in 2004. Rooney frequented ‘massage’ parlors and even became caught up in one scandal where one of the ‘masseurs’ was a grandmother. Several years later, married and with a child on the way, two women came forward with rather detailed allegations that the forward had several more encounters and even paid for sex on at least one occasion, according to The Telegraph.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo
In 2010, world footballing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo met Russian model Irina Shayk. The two hit it off and things progressed from there, even culminating in a 2011 engagement. Naturally, someone of Ronaldo’s fame gets a lot of attention and claims of infidelity, but in 2013 one claim came along which he had a great deal of trouble shaking off. According to the Mirror, Brazilian model Andressa Urach claimed Ronaldo had got in touch with her and the two had a night together a couple days before Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final loss to Borussia Dortmund. Fast forward two years to this past-January and the Russian model and soccer star split. Shayk claimed she was looking for “an honest man” and reports are that Real Madrid’s star is involved with a Spanish television personality.
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