Jokes that backfired
Harry Kane was naturally downbeat following Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final, but his mood would have only been made worse when he saw a tweet from an official FA account suggesting United defender Chris Smalling had kept England’s star striker in his pocket.
The governing body were forced to issue an apology to Kane, who called the incident “silly”. In this slideshow, we pick out 10 other 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 slapped 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. The Leeds man was forced to clarify his comments to the FA but managed to convince them it was nothing more than good old Gallic humour.
9. Phil Neville's sexist tweets
Then-Everton captain Neville 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 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
Bosnich developed a cocaine addiction and once almost shot his father with an air rifle, but his most controversial episode occurred during a 1996 game at Spurs, a club renowned for its Jewish following. When he was taunted by those on the White Hart Lane terraces, the self-destructive goalkeeper inexplicably decided the ideal response was a Nazi salute.
Bosnich offered a profuse apology for his ‘joke’ – apparently a tribute to Fawlty Towers’ ‘Don’t Mention the War’ scene – but the Aussie net-minder was still fined £1,000 by the FA.
7. Carlton Cole's immigration gag
“Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap,” joked the West Ham forward on Twitter while watching England’s friendly with Ghana in 2011, 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 the ex-Chelsea striker was still forced to hand over a five-figure sum after being hit with an improper conduct charge by the FA.
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. He was also forced to pay a £30,000 fine by the equally unimpressed FA.
5. Mamadou Sakho's interview hijack
When you’ve already rubbed your boss up the wrong way by turning up late for a flight, training session and team meal, it’s probably best not to then risk further ire by hijacking his TV interview. Yet that’s exactly what Mamadou Sakho did to Jurgen Klopp during Liverpool’s pre-season trip to Alcatraz in 2016.
Armed with his own GoPro camera, the tardy centre-back decided to muscle in on Jurgen Klopp’s televised chat with LFC TV. The fact he was subsequently banished to the reserves probably wasn’t a coincidence.
4. Hatem Ben Arfa's career-ending joke
France Football revealed last month that Ben Arfa hasn’t played for Paris Saint-Germain since April 2017 due to a seemingly-inoffensive joke he made about the approachability of club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
The former Newcastle winger hasn’t exactly endeared himself to manager Unai Emery either, supposedly mocking the Spaniard’s attempts to speak French, as well as telling him he wasn’t good enough to take even the world’s best team to the last eight of the Champions League.
3. The police force's banter
Greater Manchester Police faced an online backlash in 2015 after tweeting: “Missing person – Wayne Rooney. Last seen in the Trafford area wearing a red shirt, any sightings please inform colleagues.”
The post, which was referring to the Manchester United striker's loss of form, was heavily criticised for trivialising the issue of missing persons and quickly deleted. Incredibly, that same weekend Merseyside Police casually responded to a tweet about Sunderland being ‘raped’ by Everton at Goodison Park.
2. Rodney Marsh's Tsunami quip
Making light of a natural disaster which killed almost 300,000 people isn’t the best idea. Appearing live on Sky Sports, the ex-Manchester City forward (right) jokingly claimed that David Beckham had snubbed Newcastle due to the trouble with the “Toon Army in Asia”.
Not only did Marsh’s quip make little sense, it also came just weeks after the earthquake and tsunami which devastated over a dozen countries surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Despite apologising for his tasteless remark, Marsh lost his job.
1. Walter De Gregorio one-liner
“The FIFA president, secretary general and communications director are in a car. Who’s driving? The police.”
Compared to the other wannabe comedians on this list, Walter De Gregorio’s one-liner about the scandal that ripped football’s ultimate governing body apart is actually pretty decent. The only problem? De Gregorio subsequently became one of the people referenced in the joke, taking up a position as FIFA communications director.
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