27th April 2020

In_pictures The times footballers have broken the rules

In_pictures The times footballers have broken the rules

In_pictures

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Messi, Melo & the Pogbas: The best #StayAtHome challenges

Life has been put on hold throughout the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as people deal with the realities of social distancing and self-isolation.

Footballers are not immune to these restrictions and have already been coming up with novel ways to cope with the boredom and loneliness during this unexpected break.

But, while never this extreme – or serious – restrictions are nothing new to professional players, who already have to abide by club rules on lifestyle, curfew and clothing.

Earlier in March, Chelsea reminded their entire first-team squad of the rules around self-isolation after midfielder Mason Mount was pictured playing football with West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

While Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish said he was “deeply embarrassed” after being pictured at the scene of a car accident on Sunday, despite having urged fans to stay at home hours earlier.

BBC Sport looks back at a selection of other times footballers have flouted the rules for one reason or another.

Taxi for Baggies players

Rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after just one win in their previous 25 matches, West Brom manager Alan Pardew could not have imagined things getting any worse when he took his side on a mid-season break to Barcelona.

Instead the trip went horribly wrong, with Baggies quartet Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill having to apologise after a taxi was stolen from outside a fast-food restaurant in the city.

The players were interviewed but not arrested by police after the incident, which happened in the early hours of the morning after “breaking curfew”.

West Brom manager, Alan Pardew, said it was “unacceptable” and he “felt a bit let down” by the incident.

Mario Balotelli is currently playing in Italy’s Serie A for Brescia

‘Why always me’ – Balotelli’s costly curry

When it comes to being punished for breaches of club discipline, Italian forward Mario Balotelli is no stranger to being the wrong side of guidelines – as he highlighted in 2011 during the Manchester derby.

The 29-year-old has courted controversy for numerous on and off-field incidents in a chequered career.

And, while at Manchester City, he once broke a club curfew to have a late-night curry in the city centre fewer than 48 hours before the club played a Premier League game.

The incident reportedly incurred a hefty £150,000 fine, with any attempt to be inconspicuous not helped by his readiness to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans, as well as staging a mock sword fight with a friend – using a rolling pin.

Tottenham players pay price for Dublin bash

It’s not often that Harry Redknapp goes on the warpath but, while he was in charge of Tottenham, he did just that after a golfing break to the Republic of Ireland was used as a pretext for an unauthorised Christmas party.

Instead of his players hitting the Irish fairways, they spent an afternoon in a Dublin pub before heading on to a nightclub. They returned 72 hours before a 1-0 Premier League defeat to Wolves in December 2009.

And, with Redknapp fuming, his players ended up making donations amounting to around £300,000 to the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

Ferguson’s fury

During the 2011-12 season, Sir Alex Ferguson vented his anger at then Manchester United players, Wayne Rooney, Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson, after they had a night out on 26 December.

The trio were fined and brought in to do an extra day’s training, before then being left out of the United squad to face Blackburn on 31 December.

United suffered a shock home defeat in that encounter and Ferguson’s side eventually finished the season in second place, as Manchester City won the Premier League on goal difference.

Iwobi‘s dancing routine caught on social media

Everybody likes a dance on occasions but it’s perhaps best to swerve going to parties a couple of days before a game as Alex Iwobi can testify to.

Now at Everton, the 23-year-old was caught out in January 2018 while an Arsenal player, when a video was released on social media showing him partying at a house in central London at 02:37 GMT.

The footage was taken 36 hours before Arsenal’s FA Cup third-round loss at Nottingham Forest, with his then boss, Arsene Wenger, fining him and taking a dim view of the Nigerian forward’s transgression.

Jamie Vardy was only able to play some of a match for his non-league side because of an electronic tag

‘I could only play for an hour’

If our previous examples highlighted footballers struggling to stay home, Leicester forward Jamie Vardy is in an altogether different category.

Released by Sheffield Wednesday at 16, Vardy was forced to wear an electronic tag after being convicted of assault and was substituted early while playing for non-league side Stocksbridge Park Steels to avoid breaking his curfew.

“If the away games were too far, I could only play an hour and they’d have to take me off,” Vardy said.

“It was a case of hope we were winning, jump over the fence and straight in my parents’ car to make sure I was home in time.”

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