A brief history of cheating: 29 of football's dirtiest tricks EVER

Rivaldo, Brazil vs Turkey 2002

Reprehensible swines are always finding new ways of breaking the rules. FourFourTwo recalls the beautiful game’s dastardly deeds...

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1. Manager-to-man marking

Leganes manager Enrique Martin lived La Vida Loca one legendary evening in 1999. His side led Segunda Division rivals Badajoz 1-0, but their advantage looked in peril when their opponents broke forward late in the game. The quick-thinking gaffer just couldn’t help himself. As Badajoz forward Sabino Santos hurtled down the touchline, Martin nicked the ball nonchalantly off his toe. Badajoz went bananas; Martin got a 10-game ban.    

Enrique Martin

Martin was not afraid to get stuck in

2. The original cheaters

This early case of foul play in football occurred more than 20 years before the Laws of the Game were properly drawn up, and is arguably the first ever instance of cheating in the game. It was Christmas Day 1841, and brilliantly named Lancashire pub teams The Body Guards and The Fearnoughts were playing a 12-a-side match by their own rules for a cash prize and barrel of gin. During a goalless struggle, a tired Body Guards player ushered a spectator onto the field to take a kick for him. The umpire decided this was “foul play according to the rules agreed by each party” and awarded the match – and the gin – to the Fearnoughts.

3. Die Roten turn rotten

Coach Zlatko Cajkovski therefore told his players to throw their penultimate game, against Ulm

Bayern Munich haven’t always been a European superpower, and in 1964 were battling merely to enter the pan-regional play-offs for promotion to the Bundesliga. Finishing top of the southern regional league would see Bayern face a highly regarded Aachen side from the west, a fate they were keen to avoid.

Coach Zlatko Cajkovski therefore told his players to throw their penultimate game, against Ulm. To be on the safe side he also fielded five reserves, although they weren’t in on his scheme – which is why, after 70 minutes, Bayern were leading 4-3, the reserves having scored all four. Cajkovski promptly yelled some unmistakable instructions from the sidelines, and although Bayern subsequently lost 6-4 and finished second, they still failed to win promotion.

Gerd Muller

Muller joined Bayern in 1964, before the club made it into the Bundesliga

4. Champions of violence

Racing Club’s 1-0 victory over Celtic in the 1967 Intercontinental Cup play-off remains the mother of all pitched battles

With six red cards, 51 fouls and two interventions by Montevideo’s riot police, Racing Club’s 1-0 victory over Celtic in the 1967 Intercontinental Cup play-off remains the mother of all pitched battles. In chronological order, these players were dismissed: Argentine defender Alfio Basile (after fighting with John Clark and spitting at Bobby Lennox), Lennox himself (a case of mistaken identity), Jimmy Johnstone (for finally retaliating after many brutal challenges and one rugby tackle), John Hughes (for kicking Racing keeper Agustín Cejas, who had earlier kicked the writhing Johnstone “as hard as I could” for getting Basile sent off), Juan Carlos Rulli (for punching Clark) and Bertie Auld (for brawling).

The latter refused to leave the pitch, insisting: “I know nothing about it”, so the Paraguayan referee let him play on. It wasn’t just the violence: at half-time Johnstone’s hair was so wet with spit, he had to wash it. French paper Miroir du Football headlined its report: ‘Racing: Champions of violence, treachery and theatrics’ – but the scandal prompted the British government to remove Jock Stein, the first British coach to win the European Cup, from the 1968 New Year’s Honours list, depriving him of a knighthood.

5. Meier, Meier, pants on fire

Alan Pardew and Nigel Pearson probably have a picture of Norbert Meier on their bedroom walls: he really raised the bar for touchline spats, then dived under it, backwards. In December 2005 the Duisburg manager took umbrage with Cologne midfielder Albert Streit, gently nutted him, then collapsed as if shot. Streit looked understandably bewildered but regained his composure in time to deliberately go down as well – and received a red card for his troubles. The ludicrous Meier was sacked three days later (presumably throwing himself to the ground in response), but you can’t keep a bouncy man down: last year he took Arminia Bielefeld to the third division title and a German Cup semi-final against Wolfsburg.