10 football jokes that spectacularly backfired
10. Olivier Dacourt's "confession"
Dacourt proved his loyalties as a friend in 2001 when he helped Patrick Vieira escape severe punishment from the FA – despite being kicked in the throat by his fellow Frenchman. After the Leeds midfielder claimed that there was no malice in the Arsenal legend’s challenge, Vieira was issued with just a £10,000 fine and one-match ban.
But Dacourt then almost landed both parties in it when he joked on French TV that he’d lied about the severity of the incident in a blatant act of solidarity. Dacourt was forced to clarify his comments in front of the FA, but managed to convince them it was just an example of good old Gallic humour.
9. Phil Neville's sexist tweets
P-Nev appeared to channel his inner Bernard Manning when he first started embracing Twitter back in 2011. “Relax I’m back chilled – just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!” was the most peculiar of three particular posts which ranged from casually sexist to downright misogynistic.
Of course, they inevitably resurfaced when he was hired to replace the disgraced Mark Sampson as England Women manager seven years later. "I'm not a sexist. I've lived my life right," Neville rebutted at his first press conference.
8. Mark Bosnich's Nazi salute
An outrageous coke habit and generally wild off-pitch lifestyle made Aston Villa keeper Mark Bosnich a tabloid editor’s dream back in the 1990s. But his most controversial moment occurred on the pitch during a 1996 game at Tottenham, a club renowned for its larger-than-average Jewish following. And this fact is important here: for the self-destructive Aussie decided that the ideal response to taunts from the White Hart Lane faithful was a Nazi salute.
Bosnich did immediately offer a profuse apology for his ‘joke’ – apparently a tribute to Fawlty Towers’ ‘Don’t Mention the War’ scene – after phoning up David Mellor’s 606 show, but was still fined £1,000 by the FA.
7. Carlton Cole's immigration gag
Immigration is a particularly thorny issue even for the most skilled of political comedians. But that didn’t stop Carlton Cole from giving his tuppence while watching England’s 2011 friendly at home to Ghana.
“Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap,” joked the West Ham striker on Twitter, before adding: “The only way to get out safely is to wear an England jersey and paint your face w/ the St. George’s flag.”
Cole quickly deleted the offending tweets but was forced to hand over the aforementioned five-figure sum after being charged by the FA with improper conduct.
6. David Moyes's slap
Moyes didn’t do much to dispel football’s chauvinistic reputation following a 2017 interview with the BBC’s Vicki Sparks. Unaware that the cameras were still rolling, the then-Sunderland boss chided the reporter for asking a question he deemed to be “a wee bit naughty”, telling her that she “still might get a slap even though you're a woman” next time around.
Although Sparks could be heard laughing at the remark, Moyes was subsequently criticised by everyone from domestic abuse charities to Labour’s shadow sports minister. The FA were also unimpressed and, aptly, slapped him with a £30,000 fine.