Ranked! The 50 most hated people in football

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5. Richard Keys

Sadly, Richard Keys has been updated more recently than his views on women, so visitors are no longer greeted with 1990s stylings and the slogan ‘Your [key symbol] to sports’ above his self-serving hogwash.

The life of the disgraced former Sky Sports presenter is a daily battle to stay relevant, and Keys refuses to show any sort of contrition for the comments which saw him and his partner-in-bantz Andy Gray removed from their positions at the broadcaster.

After a stint at TalkSport they’ve pitched up in Qatar, where their role seems to be beating the drum for the least appropriate World Cup host in history; a kind of Lord Haw Haw for the horrifying future of football.

Keys had it all – a respected position, a fat salary, a dream job. Did he smash it? Not so much.

Words: Amit Kawala

4. Michel Platini

Given what Platini was as a player, the epilogue to his football life is tremendously sad. From being the arguably the best footballer in the world for a period in the 1980s, to a regretful exile in the modern day.

As FIFA began to crumble, Platini seemed like a ray of light and the exception to the rule about football’s legislators. Alas not: a murky payment was found, a watch was not handed back, and this champion of Qatar 2022 became another one of them – for whom the sport’s community continues to have utter disdain.

Words: Seb Stafford-Bloor

3. Harald Schumacher

German goalkeeper Schumacher once finished above Adolf Hitler in a newspaper poll of France’s most despised people. The hatred stems from an infamous tackle at the 1982 World Cup, when Schumacher clattered the onrushing French player Patrick Battiston, making absolutely no attempt to play ball and smashing him across the face with his forearm.

Battiston was knocked unconscious and suffered damage vertebrae, as well as losing three teeth. He later slipped into a coma. The referee awarded a goal-kick.

“If that's all that's wrong with him, I'll pay for the crowns,” said Schumacher, when hearing his opponent had lost teeth in the post-match press conference.

Words: Amit Kawala

2. Jose Mourinho

Most people tend to avoid conflict. Some don’t mind it. A tiny few openly embrace it. And then there are those who cannot contemplate life without it; who draw energy, motivation and perverse joy from locking horns with people who despise their very existence.

A strange way to live, perhaps, but in Jose Mourinho’s case it has served him well, as his status as one of the game’s greatest ever coaches would attest. The legendary Broadway producer David Merrick once said: “It is not enough for me to win – my enemies must lose.”

Mourinho operates along similar lines, creating new enemies for himself at each corner, be it Arsene Wenger, Eden Hazard, Pep Guardiola or the entire populations of Merseyside, Catalonia and half of Madrid.

His position as elite football’s pantomime villain, first hinted at with his celebratory sprint down the Old Trafford touchline in 2004, was given a more sour edge two years ago when his treatment of Eva Carneiro crossed the line between siege mentality theatrics and indefensible bullying. It won him few friends. Not that he’ll mind.

Words: Alex Hess

1. Sepp Blatter

In a speech to students at the Oxford Union in 2013, then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter argued that his time in charge of the global game had been misinterpreted. “You may think you know what FIFA is, what it does... A faceless machine, printing money at the expense of the beautiful game with me pulling the strings and laughing all the way to the bank. It’s not exactly that.”

Except it was, as it turned out. It took decades, but the web of greed and corruption of the company that Blatter sat at the head of eventually unraveled in spectacular style – and took down much of football’s governing structure with it.

Blatter is actually quite well thought of outside of Europe and the Americas, but the way he prioritised profits over fans tarnished the World Cup and the game itself in a way that could take a long time to fix.

Words: Amit Kawala

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