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It's a Funny Old Game

Bill Shankly famously said, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”. But there is a lighter side to the game and below we take a look at some of the funnier things that have happened in soccer.

Taste of your own Medicine

During the 1930 World Cup semi-finalencounter between Argentina and theUSA, the U.S. trainer ran onto the field totreat an injured player, but in the process he dropped his medical kit and broke a bottleof chloroform. When he tried to clean upthe mess he inadvertently took in somefumes and was knocked unconscious. Incidentally, the injured playerrecovered without anytreatment.


In 1993, Congleton Town, a small English team that play in the lower echelons of English soccer, was conducting a minute’s silence to mourn the death of their oldest fan: 84 year old, Fred Cope.

However, the minute’s silence was soon abandoned when a supporter disrupted the proceedings. Under normal circumstances you might expect everyone to be outraged, but on this occasion the guilty party was welcomed with open arms as he was gatecrashing his own minute’s silence.


Mario Balotelli’s stories are the stuff of legends in Manchester and many have already passed into local folk law. Some of Balotelli’s famous incidents include trespassingin a women’s prison, dressing up as SantaClaus and handing out money to locals,being substituted in a European gamebecause he had an allergic reaction tothe grass, and of course being unableto figure out how to put on a bib.However, the story that I think bestsums up Balotelli is this one …

The story goes that Balotelli’s mother was in Manchesterhelping her son to adapt to life on his own in a new country.After inspecting his house and consulting his new cleanersshe sent Balotelli off to buy some essentials for his newhome like an iron, mop, vacuum cleaner, etc. A few hours later Mario pulled up outside his new home followed by a large van that promptly unloaded a quad bike, a giant trampoline, and of course no household essentials whatsoever.


In 2002 the entire Chile under-20men’s team was fined for laughing. TheChilean FA took the extraordinary decisionafter the team’s coach complained he struggled to regain authority and control after a joke had been told during a junior football tournament. Midfielder Luis Jara told Las Ultimas Noticias newspaper: "We were eating and someone told a joke. We all laughed really hard, but the coach was not happy and told us off. Then they decided to charge us. I think they want usto behave as if we were at a funeral.I guess in Chile players are nevertold to 'just go out and enjoyyourselves'.”

Enough is Enough

Paolo Di Canio was quite a controversial character during his playing career, and if something out of the ordinary ever happened you could be sure that it involved the Italian in someway or another. Some of Di Canio’s most famous incidents involve pushing over a referee in 1998, scoring the EPL goal of the season in 2000, and being awarded FIFA’s Fair Play Award in 2001 for refusing to score into an empty net after the opposition’s keeper went down injured.

However, one of Di Canio’s greatest moments came during the 1999-2000 EPL game between West Ham and Bradford. West Ham were down 2-4 and had already been denied what looked like two clear-cut penalties for fouls on Di Canio. But when Di Canio was denied a penalty after a third foul, the striker decided enough was enough and demanded to be substituted.

The forlorn Di Canio lay prostrate in front on the bench with his head in hands, begging to be subbed, while the then West Ham coach Harry Rednapp tried to encourage the striker back onto his feet and to continue playing.

The home crowd seeing their talisman in a sullen state began to sing, and like a wrestler hearing his name chanted in a sleeper hold, Di Canio jumped back onto his feet and sprang into life once again. He scored a penalty and set up the winner as West Ham went on to complete an amazing comeback eventually winning the game 5-4, which just goes to show you can’t keep a good striker down.

Transfer Fee Pressure

In today’s game where players swap clubs for astronomical amounts of money it is easy to see how players can feel the pressure of living up to their transfer fees. However, it seems the thought of 15kgs of sausage hanging over his head was too much for Romanian soccer player Marius Cioara. Cioara, who played for second division team UT Arad, was sold to fourthdivision Regal Hornia for the sausage meat. Talkingof the transfer a spokesman for Regal Hornia confirmed, "We gave up the team's sausage allowance for a weekto secure him, but we are confident it will be worth it." However, a day later Cioara retired citing relentless sausage related taunts, "The sausage taunts all got too much. They were joking but I would have got more from the Germans and making sausage jokes was a huge insult. I have decided to go to Spain where I have got a job on a farm," he said. Naturally, Regal Hornia demanded their sausages be returned.

Ball Boy Scores Goal

It has been suggested that maybe it is time that soccer got rid of ball boys after a series of controversial incidents involving the little fellows. However, most of the ball boysout there are well-behaved kids who learn about responsibility andthe value of work in the role. The few others that do make theheadlines are usually just doing things that kids do, which are funnyand perhaps a tad mischievous rather than sinister.

Take the ball boy in Brazil for example; who instead of returning the ball to a keeper after a shot had been taken, thought it would be funnier to slide a shot into the goal instead. But the incident was no laughing matter for Atletico Sorocaba—who had been leading 0-1 away to Santacruzense—as the 89th minute goal was awarded by referee Silvia Regina de Oliveira, allowing Sanracruzense to snatch a 1-1 draw. Oliveira, who was suspended for awarding the goal, said, “I should have trusted my own vision," stating she only awarded the goal after talks with her lineman.