Worst Football Lifetime Bans!

With debate raging as to whether Luis Suarez’s FIFA ban is too harsh, too lenient or just about right, we look at some other long footballing sanctions over the years. Many have argued the controversial Uruguayan deserved a lifetime ban so here’s some others that did warrant career-ending bans.

Willie Woodburn
At a time when their son Duncan wasn’t even a twinkle in his Mr & Mrs Ferguson’s eyes, another Glasgow Rangers and Scotland star gained notoriety for the recidivist nature of his on-pitch violence.

Willie Woodburn – whose name alone sounds like a particularly painful injury – was an uncompromising centre-half whose Rangers career spanned three decades. His first incident was relatively innocuous – a 14-day ban in 1948 following a “violent exchange” with a Motherwell opponent.

Like Suarez last season, he seemed to have learned from his mistake but 5 years later he received a 21-day ban for punching Clyde striker Billy McPhail. The tipping point for the Scottish FA came during a clash with Stirling Albion the following year, where Woodburn headbutted a niggly opponent and was suspended “sine die” – basically a lifetime ban.

The SFA did rescind their penalty three years later but it was too little, too late as a 37-year old Woodburn had already retired from the game.

Roberto Rojas
While it is difficult to gauge if Suarez’s biting incidents are pre-determined or impulsive moments of madness, Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas’ notorious misdemeanor in a 1989 World Cup qualifier against Brazil was definitely the former.

After a firework was thrown on the pitch during this incendiary clash, Rojas slumped to the ground apparently felled by the flare. With blood poring from his head the match was cancelled and, with the firework seemingly coming from the Brazilian section of the crowd, Brazil feared expulsion from the tournament.

With no TV footage of the object hitting Rojas, an eagle-eyed photographer smelt a rat. Photographic evidence emerged that the firework landed a metre from the keeper and it subsequently transpired that Rojas had bizarrely hidden a blade in his glove and faked the injury himself to get the must-win game – which Chile were losing 1:0 – cancelled. Along with a self-inflicted cut to the head, he received a lifetime ban from football and Chile were disqualified from the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

Giorgos Katidis
Who’s heard of Giorgos Katidis? Don’t all raise your hands at once. No, seriously, don’t. The hightly-rated midfielder could have been looking forward to Greece’s second-round clash with Costa Rica on Sunday but a controversial incident last year put paid to those hopes.

Katidis caused uproar in Greece last March when he celebrated a goal for AEK Athens with a Nazi salute. He pleaded ignorance and said that he thought his celebrations symbolised “respect”. His lack of respect for “victims of Nazi bestiality”, however, was cited by the Greek FA when handing him a lifetime ban from all levels of international football.

His club were slightly more lenient but still banned Katidis for the remainder of the domestic season. The 20-year old had been capped at Under-17, U19 and U21 levels and had been widely tipped to break into the full national side before his act of “severe provocation”.