Thomas Swan has been an avid fan of the English Premier League and European football for more than 25 years.
Who Are the Most Hated Footballers?
On and off the field, the players on this list have demonstrated profound deficiencies in character and morality. Whether through perpetual diving on the pitch or questionable behavior off it, they need to be named and shamed to set an example for all upcoming sportsmen and women.
This list only includes currently active footballers. It also includes many players from the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga. With the largest audiences in the world, these leagues include the most hated players.
Occasionally, the hatred might be undeserved. For example, footballers who play for some of the biggest teams in the world are more likely to be hated by rival fans. If a number of players from the team you support are included here, take it as a compliment that your team riles the opposition!
To help justify the entries on this list, I have endeavored to find videos showing their most despicable acts. Enjoy, be outraged, or feel disgusted, for here come the shameful!
10. Eden Hazard
Despite not being a terrible diver (he still does it), one of Eden Hazard's worst moments came in 2013 when he kicked a ball boy to retrieve the ball from him (see video).
Off the field, Hazard's ego and sense of entitlement have also been apparent. Before moving to Chelsea, he appeared in a video where he presented cards with team names on, and let his facial expressions indicate whether he would move to them (assuming they all wanted him). What's more, Hazard has already determined that he will return to Chelsea after his "time at Real Madrid is over," disrespecting Madrid's fans and assuming Chelsea would have him back at that age.
Hazard's 2019 move to Real Madrid also seemed more like a money-making exercise than an attempt at greatness. He arrived overweight and unwilling to put in the necessary effort on and off the pitch, scoring only one goal in an admittedly injury-heavy season, and with journalists calling him a joke.
9. Sergio Busquets
Much like his Barcelona teammates at the time, Dani Alves and Pedro, Sergio Busquets took simulation to new levels of ruinous disgust. Their antics made many football fans despise Barcelona, which is unforgivable. However, Busquets is the worst of the bunch for the simple reason that he dives far more often and for far more innocuous challenges. In the video, you can see him actually in the process of cheating.
8. Dele Alli
Despite being a relatively young player, Dele Alli has already earned a reputation for diving, which says a lot. So if you think he shouldn't be on this list, give it time and you will probably change your mind. Between 2015 and 2018 he was booked three times for diving (more than any other player). In 2017, he appeared to give the middle finger to a referee while playing for England. Perhaps another contributing factor is Dele Alli doesn't appear to be living up to his early potential, frustrating fans of his club and country.
7. Ashley Young
Ashley Young probably signed for Inter Milan in 2020 to escape his reputation in England, and that is because poor Ashley has a lot of trouble staying on his feet. Maybe he has an enduring inner ear infection? More likely he has a disgusting inclination to cheat whenever the opportunity arises. The stats speak for themselves. Young won 11 penalties in 200 Premier League games before the end of 2012, and he continued 'losing his balance' in later seasons.
There is nothing wrong with winning penalties when you're genuinely fouled, but even his own manager at the time, Alex Ferguson, said he fell dramatically for one of the penalties he won for Manchester United in the 2011–12 season. In the 2013–14 season, he was also warned by David Moyes about his diving. Other managers and pundits have been less careful with their words, blatantly calling him a cheater and diver. He has been booked several times in his career for diving.
6. Diego Costa
Diego Costa is known for having a bad temper and lashing out at other players, resulting in several charges for violent conduct, many for stamping on opponents. Costa appears to engage in psychological warfare during games, in which he attempts to create the confrontations he is involved in. Consistent with this, Kurt Zouma (Costa's Chelsea teammate at the time) once admitted in 2015 that Costa likes to cheat. The lack of honor and integrity this involves is probably why he taunted Seamus Coleman about his own goal in 2014 and why, despite his "hard man" image, he simulates being injured when there is only minimal contact.
5. Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos has had a long and distinguished career as Real Madrid's most dirty player. At the time of writing this entry, Ramos has 26 red cards and holds the La Liga record. With a couple of years to go before he retires, that number could rise even higher. Ramos is a notoriously hard-tackling defender with a nasty temper and a penchant for kicking and elbowing his opponents. Anything goes, and Ramos will even use his hands to stop the opposition from scoring. This has made him a widely hated player, resulting in tirades of laughter when he happens to balloon a penalty into the stands.
4. Raheem Sterling
At the age of 20, Raheem Sterling was quick to grab the money and ditch the team that made him a star (Liverpool). After initially rejecting the advances of Manchester City, Liverpool were forced into the move when Sterling appeared to fake an illness to get out of training. After the move, he was booed by fans of all stripes.
Sterling also grabbed England team-mate, Joe Gomez, by the neck in 2019 and asked Gomez if he was "still the big man." He later claimed that "emotions got the better of me" but was subsequently dropped from the squad. Given that he is still young, I expect Sterling's emotions will lead to several more incidents like this in future.
Finally, it's worth mentioning Sterling's diving because, while there are worse actors (or should we say good actors?), he is still up there with the best of them.
3. Luis Suarez
Where do we begin with this wretch? For most fans, Luis Suarez first came to hateful prominence when he hand-balled on the goal line to prevent a certain goal against Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup. With Ajax, he bit an opponent.
After moving to the Premier League, Suarez was repeatedly accused of diving after winning a number of penalties for Liverpool. Then, there was his ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra. Two more "bites" followed, with the Uruguayan vampire biting Branislav Ivanovich in a 2013 match against Chelsea, and Giorgio Chiellini in a 2014 World Cup match against Italy.
All Three Bites from Luis Suarez
Other than his perpetual diving to win fouls and penalties and his tendency to be a petulant whinger, Ronaldo hasn't done a huge amount wrong. Three things may have acted to exaggerate his faults, though.
- First, he earned his reputation at Manchester United, so he was always going to draw a huge amount of hatred from the rest of the footballing world.
- Second, he looks like a Ken Doll by wearing earrings and using hair gel, so there is a lot of scorn for this preening boy-band look from football fans.
- Third, he's just a very good football player who will draw fouls from the opposition.
Nevertheless, his diving, particularly in his early days, earned him the reputation he has today, even if he does it less than he used to.
Ronaldo's Funniest Dives
Neymar is a player who divides opinion, but it is safe to say that many football fans despise him, and not just because he has scored against their teams.
Despite the number of fouls he draws, Neymar has a well-earned reputation for diving, exaggerating contact, and writhing in simulated agony before going on to be completely fine and at the top of his game minutes later.
Neymar's questionable character first became apparent in 2010 when his altercation with popular Santos manager, Dorival Junior, led to the manager being sacked. He has continued to disrespect players, coaches, and referees throughout his career, racking up several red cards. In 2017, after four years with Barcelona, Neymar moved move to PSG, who play in the less competitive French league. The transfer seemed to be motivated more by money than footballing reasons.
Finally, Neymar's playing style is particularly selfish. He would rather do it all himself than involve his teammates, and sometimes he does, but these decisions can cost his team and frustrate fans.
Neymar's Surprising Red Card Haul
Hatred of Big Clubs?
This list is heavy with Manchester United, Barcelona, and Real Madrid players (past and present) and that is related to the attention they receive. Most football fans are motivated to explain losses to these big clubs, and highlighting the cheating behavior of the club's players serves that purpose.
While the players on this list do themselves no favors, there may be other players with even less integrity who don't get the attention or opportunity to be hated with the same vigor.
Hated players who recently retired
This list has gone through many iterations. It used to be headed by Joey Barton, who recently retired. Other past inclusions were Ashley Cole, John Terry, Dani Alves, Ryan Giggs, Pedro, and Patrice Evra. Players who escaped inclusion (but probably should have made it in) were Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Pepe, Arjen Robben, and Wayne Rooney.
The Darker Side of the Beautiful Game
This list of the most hated football players was compiled from the opinions of numerous football fans on many internet forums. The darker side of the beautiful game deserves as much attention as the goals, skills, and celebrations that make us smile. There is little hope of stopping fan violence and racism with these players providing such a hateful example.
Which Is the Worst?
© 2012 Thomas Swan
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on October 07, 2020:
Thank you all for your comments, in which you mentioned several players who should have been included earlier. I think this latest version should satisfy more! I've also kicked out some players who recently retired and added a section for them near the end.
The black panther on May 07, 2020:
Where is tevez
ShuShu on April 29, 2020:
Neymar does a lot of diving therefore he should be on the list
cREame on June 10, 2019:
wheres mario balotelli
Anon on April 26, 2019:
This is very biased. Neymar does a lot of drama. Just watch all Brazil matches in the 2018 world cup
Ken on March 06, 2019:
Pepe and Marcelo???
kelly on December 01, 2018:
What of ibramovic
Demonhunter on November 18, 2018:
How is Pepe not on the list
Diego Maradona on September 22, 2018:
He handballed against England Cheater
Ramadhan on July 15, 2017:
Why does this list miss out on Diego Costa
andy on June 03, 2017:
I don't see how being a tough tackler can make you a bad person, all you Giggs haters, did you know that he never got a red? As has Carrick, with his testimonial today.
emque on September 12, 2016:
we all know costa should be first on the list
NoelSphinx from Sweden on October 15, 2015:
Pepe of Real Madrid
Frank on May 26, 2015:
Diego Costa and his arrogant attitude should be on the list
saio on April 18, 2015:
because they hold on to the ball the opponent will leave them playing until they loose they ball as soon as the opponent begin to possess the ball they started playing foul
Justice on March 17, 2015:
No Mario on the list!!! I'm truly shocked!!!!
hi on December 08, 2014:
ronaldo is a diver
no wonder why people call him penaldo
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on December 01, 2014:
Glad you agree worldsoccer! Thanks for commenting.
Kamrul Hasan from Dhaka on December 01, 2014:
Two Sergio (Ramos & Busquets) definitely deserve this list. Ramos for his brutal fouls and Busquets for his acting ability.
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on November 29, 2014:
Thanks for the nice comments Sumo, louisprejean, and freebettingtips.
I'm thinking about who I might add. Robben, Zlatan, Neymar, Rooney, Costa, and Balotelli are all candidates. Lots of possibilities.
George Compton from Chicago, IL on November 24, 2014:
Great List. Loved it!
Louis Prejean from Lafayette, Louisiana on November 03, 2014:
Cool article! Would appreciate if you checked out some of my sports articles!
Sumo on October 07, 2014:
Nicely done bro. Make the list a bit bigger and accommodate Rooney and Diego Costa. ;)
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 26, 2014:
Thanks dondarko. Robben is a good choice. The World Cup further established his reputation as a diver and the headlines since then haven't been good either. If I take someone out, Robben will probably be the one to go in.
Darko Atanasov from Skopje on September 25, 2014:
This list is quite good, I would only add Robben in the list. Some of his last falls were pretty amateur and irritating.
But the Champions League and national leagues in Europe already started, so let's see what they would bring to us :)
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on May 21, 2014:
I've updated the list slightly. It now includes Sergio Ramos. I've removed Ryan Giggs who recently retired. Giggs has also salvaged his reputation somewhat since I first wrote this.
I'm considering Neymar and Balotelli, but don't know who to take out. Also, Balotelli is still considered a sort of `loveable clown' in England, so I'm not sure he's hated as much as the others.
The World Cup might prove educational though!
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on May 21, 2014:
Thanks for commenting Brendon. It's good you recognize that. I like your idea, though updating this hub is first on my list.
Brendon Thomas from Cape Town, South Africa on May 21, 2014:
I am a Chelsea FC supporter but would always acknowledge the fact that Terry and Cole did some serious damage to the growing Chelsea brand.
This is just a thought. We all know that Mourinho is a coach you would love to hate. How about a "Top 10 Most Hated Coaches" hub?
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on April 07, 2014:
Thanks for the comments guys. Balotelli, Ramos, and Neymar are all really good choices. Perhaps I will update this soon.
John from India on January 30, 2014:
What about Mario Balotelli.He's the player I hate the most.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BepDexjVfG0..check out this video
ronakbhatia from Mumbai, India on January 12, 2014:
I'm a Man United fan, but I still hate Ashely Young for diving. Other than him, I hate Saurez. He is easily one of the best footballers, but I would have been his fan if he was a better human being.
Sergio Ramos is the only name I feel is missing from this list, all the others are spot on!
Blogger at Best from Detroit MI on July 17, 2013:
I would include Ibrahimovic, don't get me wrong I like him a lot, but he is a pretty hated player and considered racist. I like the article great job!
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on July 17, 2013:
Good point Gauldur. His red card rate is pretty abysmal too. I think Neymar may deserve a place soon as well. After his Confed Cup appearances, he seems like a prolific diver.
Gauldur on July 17, 2013:
Great list, I would agree with most of them. I might add Sergio Ramos though, the guy is always complaining and always fouling the opposition. I can't contest the fact that he is one of the best defenders in the world, but I can affirm that he always plays dirty. Never mind all the times he drops his trophies as if they don't actually mean anything...
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on May 29, 2013:
Yea Ronaldo was the hardest to place. He was probably hated more while at United. I think he grew up a bit after that... but not by much. Thanks for commenting.
Blogger at Best from Detroit MI on May 27, 2013:
Pretty good list of hated players lol. I do think that in recent times Ronaldo has gone up in this list as the most hated players in the world. He has won his reputation by always whining and crying about stupid things. Don't get me wrong I really like Ronaldo, but I think he is in the top three hated players. Great post :)
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 05, 2013:
United is probably the most hated team in the world. Certainly in England they are. That's because they're also the best team in the country. Comes with the territory. You should be asking why Rooney isn't in there.
Adam Casey from MANCHESTER on March 05, 2013:
Clearly not a big fan of Man Utdyourself! Name the whole squad why don't you! lol
You missing a few that should replace Evra and Giggs.
Mainly Balotelli, Tevez, El-Hadji Diouf
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 23, 2013:
Bergkamp and Vieira are retired, so they can't be in the list. As an Arsenal fan I despise RVP and Nasri, I just don't think they're hated enough by everyone else. As for Fabregas, I've heard loads more praise than criticism about him, so he can't be hated that much. I didn't put Spurs or Man City players in there because this is an objective look at who is hated the most, not my personal blacklist.
You want to know what my most recent article was? Top 10 best football managers in the world. You want to know who was number 1? Ferguson. I guess that kills your comment dead. Thanks for taking the time to read my "pure venom" though.....
maharg1956 from UK on February 23, 2013:
Then, of course, we have Van Persie, Fabregas, Viera, Nasri, Bergkamp, to name but a very few, all current or very recently past players, who would easily make many people's top 10 disliked players. I am sure there are just as many Arsenal or ex Arsenal players who could make the list.
I am not really sure that your list accurately reflects popular opinion. There are several unpleasant players from clubs not hated by Arsenal fans who are missing. It seems to me that it is a list of the pure venom which filters through in your writing, as an Arsenal supporter and, with the exception of Barton, the list comprises the teams you probably have most reason to dislike; Barcelona, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool (Ronaldo having been a Man Utd player for so long). I am surprised you didn't include Gareth Bale and several other Spurs players in the list too.
Given that Man City are also a thorn in Arsenal's side, I am very surprised you didn't include Balotelli in there, even though he is now in Milan.
Perhaps a list of the top ten most hated managers next? I am sure it would begin with: Ferguson, Mancini, Redknap, Villas Boas, Guardiola, Mourhino, Benitez, Allardyce . . . . . . . .
FullOfLoveSites from United States on December 14, 2012:
I don't watch football but I'm curious as to why they're roundly hated. It turns out to be a very interesting piece. Good job. :)
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on December 13, 2012:
Yea, I didn't want this to turn into a United-hating article, but they bring it on themselves. Giggs, Ashley Young, and Evra are in this list, as is ex-United player Ronaldo. Then there's Rooney, and even Beckham comes in for a lot. Before them there was Cantona. Rio Ferdinand's drug test. Ex-player Tevez could be on the list. No doubt the list could be longer, and will get longer. Could even write a hub about the top 10 most despised United players.
M. Yepez from Norfolk, VA on December 13, 2012:
This was absolutely fantastic. And I am going to sound snippy here but it's Man U's own fault for getting so many of their players on lists like this. They always seem to mistake the box for a swimming pool, don't they? Happens too often with too many of their players to convince me it is, at the very least, not frowned upon by their trainers.
Dante on December 12, 2012:
Luis Suarez is know where near deserving of his reputation,its because he`s so good that people get annoyed with him,because he makes them look like fools all the time because he`s totally unpredictable,the worst thing he did was bite someone and oh no the victim was smiling about it.Its not like he "Cantona" esc kungfu`d someone in the head and when he came back from suspension its made out to be a "return of the king" type celebration because of the MUTD bias in the press,but when it comes to Saurez he`s a hot ticket for the slaughter.The only way they can respond is by slandering him,not that it affects him on the field.
joe on November 21, 2012:
Luis Adriano take the 1st place
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on October 03, 2012:
Thanks for the comments RM, JV, PN, DC. Looks like I missed them when I was away!
RM, legends will certainly be hated when it's not earned. I suppose the love for these great players cancels it out mostly.
JV, I do think Terry is loathsome, but then again, the media jumps on everything he does because they know it will become a big story. If it was another player doing the same thing, it would get less publicity.
PN, I'm glad you loved it! Unfortunately, it's the world we live in. Although, a lot of people get enjoyment out of football, so maybe their respect is earned, or at least something to expect. Rooney is certainly a simpleton, but I think that generates a certain amount of pity too. He does need a handler though!
DC, Ah yes Giggsy does seem to get around. There is so much respect for him, and the media is so dominated by United fans, that his misdemeanors get less publicity in the long run. Nani is certainly a diver, but not quite in Ashley Young's class; at least not in the penalty area. Not sure why you picked RVP, other than him leaving Arsenal in the way he did; although Nasri and Cole were surely worse for that.
Donnacha C from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland on September 25, 2012:
Good, comprehensive list, well done. Must add that not only did Ryan Giggs cheat on his wife and kids with a reality start but also had a 7 or 8 year affair with his brother's wife! yet he is still hailed as a legend and icon, which is beyond me... Me personally, I would have added Nani, Van Persie and one of the Silva "sisters" too, all pitiful cheats!
Tara Carbery from Cheshire, UK on August 22, 2012:
Ha ha ha! I loved this! I loathe the fact that ignorant thugs are hailed as hero's because they are rather deft on their feet and good at kicking a ball around. The amount of money they earn is obscene. I particularly loved the Wayne Rooney addition at the end. He lives near me in Cheshire, bought a beautiful house, ripped it down and turned it into an ostentatious monstrosity. If they had brains, they'd be dangerous!
James Vernon from UK on August 22, 2012:
Good stuff Thomas. Voted up and shared. There are a lot of these types of players who i can see putting me off football. Overpaid,overhyped and only setting the worst example. Probably Terry stands our as all theat is bad about the sport
Richard-Murray on August 08, 2012:
@Thomas, good point
When I said hasn't earned it I meant, legends always get hatred because their great, Busquets and Barton are fools who can do no better:)
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on August 06, 2012:
Thanks for the comments Richard (and Charmike, full response above). Violence and bias won't be stopped, but if the players learn to control themselves, it should have a magnified effect on the number of fans who do it. For every player that kicks someone, a hundred fans may be influenced to imitate the action at some future point.
Barton and Busquets have definitely earned the hatred directed at them. I suppose it was a factor though. Ronaldo may be more hated, but hasn't earned it quite as much. I think hatred for him has waned somewhat, so I still think the list is accurate enough.
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on August 06, 2012:
I know what you mean about Bellamy. I used to hate him for his fouling, diving and whining. Sometimes he would really lose his temper too. However, I think he has matured quite a bit in the last few years. A good example was for Team GB in London 2012; he was hacked down and should have got a certain penalty, and though he was raging at the ref and linesman, he seemed to control himself and acknowledge the decision, raising his hand in a friendly gesture.
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on August 06, 2012:
Thanks for the comment Der Meister. I know what you mean, I would be very tempted to kick Busquets for real. The guy has no scruples.
Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on August 06, 2012:
Thanks for the nice comments and shares internpete and mmsu.
As for Iniesta, he still commands a huge amount of respect from people. I haven't noticed him diving too much, but maybe his skills and temperant make it more forgiveable, or possibly he is very good at making it look like a foul. Most of the Barca players do go down quite easily though, so it could be that there are far worse divers in the team that take the attention away. As well as Alves and Busquets there is Pedro, and then there is Mascherano who hounds the ref for every dive. I would say them two are hated almost as much.
Richard-Murray on August 04, 2012:
outside of Busquets and Barton , all of these players are legends. So, hated, well. Lebron James is hated too.
I think you should do a hated and hasn't earned it list:) 10. Busquets 9. Joey Barton
to your last comments,
violence and bias can't be stopped.
Michael Kromwyk from Adelaide, South Australia on August 04, 2012:
You got this list right Thomas. All deserve to be on the list. I think opposition players don't like Craig Bellamy...he could be your #11! I saw him play at Newcastle a few years back and when he started back chatting the ref the crowd all went Shhhhhh! to him, made him think! Cheers Michael
Der Meister on August 04, 2012:
It's seeing players like Busquets that make me wish someone would give divers a real injury to roll around about.
mmsu from Pakistan on August 04, 2012:
good hub,definitely this list will have varied opinion from others.voted up and shared!!
Peter V from At the Beach in Florida on August 04, 2012:
Ha, nice list. I have not heard/seen some of these people in action, but you have a great section for each that describes why they are on this list, so I must agree with you!
If I were going to add anyone, it would be Iniesta for his blatant diving, mot notably in the 2010 World Cup Final against Holland. He took an obvious dive, that caused the dutch player to get a yellow. Lost all respect for him in an instant.
Great hub, voted up and shared!