Didier Drogba will miss four of the Montreal Impact’s first five games because the club won't allow him to play on artificial surfaces. Tim Ellis recalls 10 other barmy bans, featuring space travel, parachutes and vodka...
1. Rangers cut off Movember
In December 2015, Rangers banned all youth players from growing beards in a bid to improve discipline. Academy boss Craig Mulholland insisted that, traditionally, Gers players were always clean shaven.
Er, about that. He might have forgotten some of the legends of the club such as moustachioed multiple trophy winner John Greig, voted 'The Greatest Ever Ranger' by supporters in 1999.
The Beard Liberation Front, who campaign against beardism or “irrational prejudice against the hirsute” were suitably outraged by the decision. “Beards can add gravitas and presence on the sporting field,” said the organisation. Quite right, too. Joe Allen has become the new Andrea Pirlo, after all.
2. Sunderland's space oddity
When the Swede joined the Wearside club from sunny Valencia, he was told that space travel would invalidate his contract
On signing for Sunderland in 1999, Stefan Schwarz had to waive any possibility of lift-off into a galaxy far, far away. When the Swede joined the Wearside club from sunny Valencia, he was told that space travel would invalidate his contract.
Sunderland's chief executive John Fickling was concerned that one of the midfielder’s advisors had got a place booked on one of the commercial flights that were due for take-off in 2002. "We were worried that he may wish to take Stefan along with him," said Fickling. "So we thought we'd better get things tied up now rather than at the time of the flight."
3. Inflatable ba-na-nas
Football has become a leading victim of the British mania for banning things. The latest absurdity came at Highbury when police video cameras solemnly scanned the terraces for illicit giant bananas
Long before the Minions ever vocalised the word, bananas of the inflatable variety become a popular sight at football grounds. It was a craze started by Manchester City fans in the late eighties on the Kippax at Maine Road. Maverick striker Imre Varadi affectionately became known as “Imre Banana”. Highbury was the first ground to ban the novelty fruits as local police deemed that they could incite violence by obstructing spectators' views.
"Football has become a leading victim of the British mania for banning things," raged David Lacey of The Guardian. "The latest absurdity came at Highbury on Tuesday night when police video cameras solemnly scanned the terraces for illicit giant bananas."
The craze had a mini-revival at the Etihad Stadium during the League Cup semi-final against Everton in January, when the club provided scores of them to fruit shoot their favourites to Wembley.
4. Parachutes turfed out
What was intended as an extravagant means to deliver the match ball for Burnley’s first home match of the 2008 season didn’t turn out as planned. A member of the elite Red Devils team parachuted onto the roof, causing a 45-minute delay to the match against Ipswich. All subsequent pre-match entertainment was banned at Turf Moor, while parachuting is now forbidden in football stadia.
However, this didn’t prevent Jakub Langowski, a veteran of 1,300 jumps, making an emergency landing in the middle of a Conference Premier match between Salisbury City and Chester in 2013. The crowd started to sing “Who are ya?” as Mr Langowski high-fived his audience before being escorted off the pitch.
5. Parrot gets marching orders
Referee Gary Bailey ordered Me-Tu, a Hertford 'supporter', out of the ground with its owner after the animal consistently mimicked the whistle
During the 2009 Hertfordshire Senior Centenary Trophy Quarter-Final between Hatfield Town and Hertford Heath, a local parrot was on hand as a fourth official. Referee Gary Bailey ordered Me-Tu, a Hertford “supporter”, out of the ground with its owner after the animal consistently mimicked the whistle.
Hatfield chairman Ted Collie said: "When [the referee] realised it was the parrot, he started moving towards it, pointing to the entrance and said 'would you mind leaving?'" The Senegalese bird was restrained in his cage when given his marching orders to prevent any El Hadji Diouf-style histrionics.
6. Owl stops play
My family is very worried about what happened, and even more because there is an entire country against me
Deportivo Pereira defender Luis Moreno became embroiled in an animal rights storm during a Colombian league match against Atletico Junior at Barranquilla. Atletico’s mascot, an owl, was hit by the ball near Pereira’s penalty area and Moreno was seen ushering the bird away with a sneaky kick.
Colombia was rightly outraged. "My family is very worried about what happened, and even more because there is an entire country against me," Moreno bleated. He escaped jail but was banned for two games, ordered to pay 26 million pesos by the city’s Office of the Environment and forced to do community work... at a zoo. The poor owl passed away without so much as a Get Well Soon card.
7. Snoods are snuffed out
A snood is not part of the equipment and it can be dangerous, even like hanging somebody
Who can forget Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli with their winter warmers? Sir Alex Ferguson sneered that real men didn’t wear them, while it gave Roy Keane another reason to say that players have all gone soft.
Arsene Wenger harnessed his inner Derek Zoolander to defend the neck accessory but the snood finally became extinct in 2011 when the International FA Board banned them for health and safety reasons. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "A snood is not part of the equipment and it can be dangerous, even like hanging somebody."
8. Dr Dre sonic boom goes large
In one of his ‘back in my day’ moments, Paul Ince raged that players who wore headphones while doing interviews with the media were being “disrespectful”.
A 5ft 5in small player looks ridiculous when the headphones are as large as the whole head
Stuttgart manager Alexander Zorniger took the concept one step further in July 2015 by banning the oversized equipment completely. The reasons given were aesthetic, though. Zorniger told Sport Bild: "There’s a visual reason for this – a 5ft 5in small player looks ridiculous when the headphones are as large as the whole head."
9. Scarborough's shot of vodka
Scarborough were in the old Fourth Division of English football when a shirt sponsorship deal with a Luxembourg-based drinks firm was agreed in 1990. The Gulls' chairman Geoffrey Richmond told reporters that the company was reputable despite the logo reading “Black Death Vodka: Drink in Peace”.
Unsurprisingly, the Football League banned the shirt shortly after the deal was announced and the club played it safe the following season by unveiling Scarborough Evening News as their preferred partner. Black Death Vodka was subsequently banned in the USA for misleading advertising. The Bureau of Alcohol concluded that "the brand seems to promise poison and plague but delivers only vodka".
— CFS (@classicshirts) October 31, 2015
10. It's not the result that counts
Youngsters are not interested in results long after the game
The FA’s latest crushing of common sense came in 2015 when it attempted to ban regional newspapers publishing results of youth matches so as not to upset the losers. Mollycoddling FA officials insisted that printing one-sided scorelines could act as a disincentive for those on the receiving end.
Surrey FA chief executive Caroline McRoyall opined: “Youngsters are not interested in results long after the game.” How about medals or trophies?
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