Why Do Footballers Get Banned?

Live matches of football are unpredictable, and sometimes it gets difficult for a referee to handle those situations. Many infamous incidents have led to a football ban for some players.

While the banned footballers are banned due to their foul play on the ground, the incidents that occur off-field also matter. Since it is a widely followed sport, football news spread faster and leads to fan wars.

Even having one or more banned footballers can cause a slight problem for the club or team reputation. So there are multiple on-field and off-field reasons why some players face a football ban.

Some might say football is not dangerous and safe for kids to watch, but a few times when the game turned ugly. From severe injuries to direct attacks on opponents, every negative historical football incident has been a dangerous one.

Let us see some famous football ban incidents which shook the sports news media and football enthusiasts!

On-Field Actions and famous cases

You must have seen how often players get a yellow card to misbehave with other players or break some rules. The referee has to be just and fair while deciding since multiple cameras take shots from all the angles, plus the live video streaming of matches.

Yellow cards are given for a bit milder offenses. Fights between the players, misconduct, and indiscipline are strictly prohibited, leading to banned footballers.

If the opposite team’s player blocks a player without the ball, such behavior also leads to penalty cards. Repeated technical errors and foul play by a team lead to a penalty. Such restricted moves and actions spoil a clean game.

The frequency and level of indiscipline on the field determine the penalty card color. If a red card is awarded, the football ban for that player is for three matches. This is mostly where violence is seen among the players. Banned footballers are mostly a result of violent and unacceptable actions during the game.

In a yellow card, the banned footballers are not allowed to play for one match. But a red card can be given after the player receives the yellow card two times in a game due to repetitive mistakes. A yellow card is generally given if, even after several warnings, the player continues to misbehave.

Racism is one of the most sensitive issues, and there have been cases where players directly abused an opponent of color based on their race. The banned footballers targeted mostly Black and Asian footballers.

Some famous football ban incidents that occurred on the field include:

  • Luis Suarez
    • Reason(s) for the ban: Biting, Racism
    • Suarez has played well and is one of the best players, but his discipline game is not strong. Not once or twice, but he has received three historical football bans for biting the field’s opponents.
    • He received a four-month ban when he bit the Italian defender Chiellini during the World Cup in 2014.
  • Pepe
    • Reason(s) for the ban: Several, including punching and stamping on hand
    • The number of fans Lionel Messi has is infinite, but imagine Pepe’s outrage due to him stamping on the star player’s hand. He had also assaulted many players earlier, and it was one more of his violent attacks.
  • Edwin Cardona
    • Reason for the ban: Racist gestures on-field
    • In their match against South Korea, this Columbian footballer had a small brawl with the opponents. While the referee failed to notice the racist gestures of Cardona’s eyes, the cameraman caught him red-handed.

Off-Field Incidents that can cause a ban

A footballer taking drugs and steroids to excel in their matches cannot escape from the authorities’ regular and sudden drug tests. Many popular banned footballers resort to drug abuse due to stress and pressure.

No clubs support such behavior, leading to a bad impression on their club and other innocent teammates. So doping in the game of football can cause strict football bans.

Match-fixing is one of the most famous football ban reasons. There were cases where players bet on their teams to lose or played bad purposely. Over the years, as the rules are getting strict, some players seem to not care about any disciplinary football ban.

Famous clubs have gotten into transfer window issues and received fines and penalties. Players are also banned in case of misconduct with fellow teammates during practice sessions or training. A violent player might attack anyone around them.

The player has to compulsorily take part in every drug test to ensure that they are clean. Some players did not take the test in the list of banned footballers as they ‘accidentally’ forgot to participate in it.

There are two possibilities for such situations: the player forgot, and the football ban was unfair. But the second possibility points towards such banned footballers being guilty and hence skipping drug tests.

Famous banned footballers like Maradona served long bans due to doping. He was suffering from drug addiction, and his excellent football career was reduced to nothing due to that.

Retrospective Action

The action of retrospection means to self-assess, and in this case, it is to let the referees clear their doubts. Sometimes the players cleverly hit opponents and cause purposeful fights for distractions.

A retrospective action is an act where the referee was unsure whether the accusations are right or wrong because he or she had not seen it happening. The match report may not include what the referee missed looking at, but a slight doubt can be mentioned in the report.

Later based on the footage or camera shots, the decision can be taken by the higher authorities. At times the view is blocked, or due to multiple incidents happening at a time, the referee might not spot the behavior.


Most of the time, the bans are due to on-field indiscipline towards the opponents and referees. It is also important to note that the banned footballers are not supposed to play the required number of matches in that league and other local matches based on the football committees’ rules.

When fans remember a historical football incident, most of them will come up with stories, including the infamously banned footballers.

The off-field activities may include match-fixing and drug abuse cases. There have been incidents where popular players get a football ban due to their involvement in illegal activities and anything against the official rules.


More articles on our blog:

  1. Doping in Football: Arguments for And Against
  2. The Evolution Of Football Shoes
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