2014 World Cup: Five players who shockingly left World Cup
The 2014 FIFA World Cup has already seen its share of controversies with the sacking of Ghana players Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, although for completely different reasons.
However, these shocking departures from the most watched sporting event in the world are hardly isolated incidents.
Paris: Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng’s expulsion from the World Cup is not unique. Here is a look at five other players who either fell foul of authority just prior to the finals or at the tournament itself resulting in disgrace:
1978: Willie Johnston doping farce Manager Ally McLeod went against the Scottish Football Association (SFA)’s counsel and selected Johnston, who once took a sip of spectator’s beer before taking a corner, for the 1978 World Cup.
His campaign did not last long as following the opening 3-1 defeat by Peru he stepped in to undergo the dope test as Archie Gemmill couldn’t provide a sample. He tested positive for a banned stimulant which was in a medicine for hayfever he had bought in a chemist.
However, the SFA, who he described as ‘amateurs’, were almost gleeful in sending the 32-year-old home early and he all but became a scapegoat for Scotland’s disastrous first round exit. He never played for Scotland again.
1982: ‘Between the Sheets’ proves destructive cocktail for Larios Jean-Francois Larios was a superbly talented midfielder but he had an eye for the ladies and according to most accounts this lay at the heart of his early return from Spain.
For his wandering eye had alighted on the wife of his St Etienne clubmate and French darling Michel Platini. Bizarrely, coach Michel Hidalgo picked them both in his squad but such was the enmity of Platini for Larios, the latter realised he would play only a limited role and spent most days lolling by the swimming pool.
Larios eventually got the message, according to Hidalgo, who said the player thought it best he pack his bags. “It was a very delicate matter which did not affect the team. Jean-Francois Larios did the right thing by removing himself,” Hidalgo told leschroniquesbleues in December 2012. Larios never played for France again.
1994: Maradona’s decline and fall – Maradona’s fourth and final World Cup saw him sent home in disgrace after failing a doping test. Still a potent force it looked as if he might enjoy a glorious swansong in the international limelight.
Having scored a goal in the win over Greece and then played in the 2-1 win over Nigeria, he subsequently failed a dope test for the stimulant ephedrine. Despite his protestations of innocence that he had used an American version of the energy drink ‘Rip Fuel’, which unlike its Argentine counterpart had ephedrine as an ingredient, he was sent home and never played for his country again.
2002: Keane’s red mist Irishman Roy Keane’s already well known disdain for then Ireland boss Mick McCarthy boiled over when the Manchester United star expressed his disgust at the pre-finals training camp organised by the Irish federation (FAI) in Saipan. McCarthy decided to make him speak about his concerns in front of the whole squad which proved to be a humiliating experience for both coach and player.
Keane launched into an expletive-ridden tirade at McCarthy and stormed out missed the finals. Midfielder Matt Holland, writing just afterwards in his column for ‘The Independent’ commented: ‘People say Roy Keane went over the top.
I would say he overstepped the mark by as far as Bob Beamon did when he broke the long jump world record in Mexico in 1968′. Keane did return to play for Ireland once McCarthy left his post and is now assistant coach.
2010: The Incredible Sulk Unhappy at the largely unloved Raymond Domenech’s decision to play him on his own up front for the opener against Mexico, Nicolas Anelka let rip with a Keanesque expletive-filled rant. “I was only insulting someone who the rest of France had already insulted.
I would do it again,” an unrepentant Anelka told MetroNews earlier this year. Domenech professed himself to be more shocked by Anelka’s lack of respect than the words but he was sent home once the affair made it into the papers.
The French squad infamously went on strike in sympathy and several of them, along with Anelka, were punished afterwards, the striker seeing his international career pretty much ended with an 18 game ban.