Diego Costa's Chelsea saga and five other infamous player standoffs

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Diego Costa’s stand-off with Premier League champions Chelsea is just the latest in a long line of disputes between players and their employers.

Costa, 28, had been informed by his boss Antonio Conte that he has no future at the club and having been frozen out of the first-team squad, the Brazil-born Spain international has gone home to Brazil.

With the striker due to report for training two weeks ago, he insisted he has no intention of returning to West London after the way he was treated by Conte.

Here, we take a look five infamous examples of player standoffs.


Probably the most famous protest by a national side as the entire squad – captained by Patrice Evra and including Thierry Henry – refused to train after Nicolas Anelka’s expulsion during the 2010 World Cup.

Their fury at coach Raymond Domenech had been provoked by the sending home of Anelka after the striker launched a foul-mouthed tirade at his coach during half-time in their opening group game defeat to Mexico..

Unsurprisingly given the venomous atmosphere, France bowed out in the first round.

Evra, Anelka and others were severely disciplined on their return whilst little has been heard of Domenech since.

Uruguay v France: Group A - 2010 FIFA World Cup


Diego Costa will have to go some lengths to outdo Dutch international Winston Bogarde in causing as much trouble for Chelsea.

Claudio Ranieri disliked him so much that he wanted the player to leave just weeks after taking over from Gianluca Vialli in 2000. Bogarde dug his heels in and stayed for four years, despite being dropped first to the reserves and then the youth team.

He justified his behaviour by declaring in his biography: “This world is about money (he was on a reported £40,000 a week), so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.”


Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez played up to his nickname of ‘Apache’ by refusing to warm up during Manchester City’s Champions League clash against Bayern Munich in 2011.

Manager Roberto Mancini said Tevez, then 28, would never play for the club again.

But a combination of his monster wages and the huge fee City were demanding meant there were no takers.

Tevez holidayed in Argentina and considered retiring before eventually returning to the first team in March 2012. He left in 2013 for Juventus.


Dutch striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk was instrumental in Nottingham Forest’s return to the Premier League in the late 1990s but he went on strike at the beginning of the 1998/99 season because he felt furious about key players being let go.

He subsequently trained at his old club NAC Breda and demanded a move, which was rejected.

The club refused to listen to offers as they needed his goal-scoring services in the Premier League. His stand-off lasted until November when he realised he had no choice but to return to Forest.

The depth of antipathy at the club was reflected when his teammates refused to celebrate with him when scoring on his return. Instead they celebrated with teammate Scott Gemmill for assisting the goal.

Forest were relegated and he left that summer, Vitesse Arnhem purchasing him for £3.5 million.


Moody Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov tested the patience of the Tottenham Hotspur hierarchy and manager Juande Ramos as he looked to engineer a multi-million pound “dream” move to Manchester United at the beginning of the 2008/09 campaign.

He refused to play in the Premier League game against Sunderland and was threatened with demotion to the reserves.

Spurs complained to the Premier League about United’s ‘tapping up’ of their star striker but eventually sold him on September 1 for £30 million.​

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Diego Costa must return to Chelsea if he is to get his move to Atletico Madrid

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Diego Costa must renege on his promise to remain in Brazil and instead return to Chelsea to have any hope of securing his desired move to Atletico Madrid.

Costa has criticised Chelsea’s treatment of him this summer, saying he is “not a criminal” and insisting he is prepared to remain in exile for a year.

But it is understood that Chelsea want Costa, a player with two years remaining on his contract, to return to the club.

The Blues also expect the Brazil-born Spain striker to prove his fitness and make himself available for selection.

After being granted an additional week of leave and missing the pre-season tour to Asia, Costa is still to return to London around two weeks after his anticipated arrival as he agitates for a return to Atletico.

Costa, speaking at his family home in Lagarto, Brazil, said he has not reported for training as he does not want to train with the Blues’ reserves, and is happy staying in Brazil and paying club fines until his future is resolved.

He told the Daily Mail: “They gave me a week extra off but since then it’s fines all the way. They want me training with the reserves. I am not going to do that.

“I am not a criminal and I am not in the wrong here. So, if they need to fine me, let them fine me.”

Chelsea do not have a reserve team, only age-group sides, and Costa has been given no indication he would be expected to train with them.

Costa joined Chelsea from Atletico in July 2014 and has twice won the Premier League title during his three years at Stamford Bridge.

He has scored 59 goals – 52 in the Premier League – across 120 appearances for the Blues.

The 28-year-old claims he was told he was not wanted by head coach Antonio Conte by text message in the summer and the frontman wishes to return to Atletico.

The Blues declined to respond to Costa’s comments and Conte has recently been reluctant to discuss the player, describing the situation as belonging in “the past”.

Chelsea have previously insisted the decision that Costa should leave this summer was made in January, with both the player and his agent, Jorge Mendes, aware.

“I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free,” Costa said.

“I didn’t want to leave. I was happy. When the manager does not want you, you have to go.

“I am open to being a year in Brazil without playing, even if Chelsea fine me for a year and don’t pay me.

“I’ll come back stronger. If I was in the wrong, I’d go back now and do as they say.”

In Costa’s absence, the Blues lost 3-2 to Burnley on Saturday, the full opening day of the Premier League season.

Costa only wants to move to Atletico, who are under a transfer embargo and cannot register new players until January.

“My desire is to go to Atletico. I have rejected other offers,” he added.

“If I’m off, I’m going to the club I want to go to, not the club that’s paying the most.”

An Atletico de Madrid fan holds up a Diego Costa banner

An Atletico de Madrid fan holds up a Diego Costa banner

The striker said he was happy at Stamford Bridge until Conte made it clear he had no future in the team.

The friction can be traced to January, when Costa missed the Premier League trip to Leicester after a rumoured behind-the-scenes row with Conte and his coaching staff following speculation over a mega-money move to China.

Conte publicly stated Costa’s absence was due to a back injury, but the player has now admitted it was for disciplinary reasons.

“That was a punishment for the attitude I had shown and for not behaving in the best way,” he added.

Costa also says he was nearing a new contract with Chelsea at the time, but believes Conte put a halt to negotiations.

Costa was critical of Conte, saying the former Juventus and Italy boss “doesn’t possess charisma” and expressing anger over the Italian’s communication.

He added: “There are ways of going about it. You don’t do it by text message. You should be honest and direct to someone’s face.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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David Prutton and four other players to have pushed referees following Cristiano Ronaldo ban

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Pure anger: Prutton erupted back in 2005.

While Cristiano Ronaldo’s impending five-game ban is dominating the headlines, he’s not the first player to be reprimanded for coming into contact with the referee.

Here, we look back at five other examples when players lost their heads on the pitch.

In no particular order, we kick things off with a certain Italian…

And it’s a good way to start.


Arguably the most famous incident out of them all.

Yes, Paul Alcock’s stuttering fall to the deck has been used in a few comedy sketches down the years, but the truth is, Paolo Di Canio pushed the referee with some force after being sent-off following a tussle with Patrick Vieira during Sheffield Wednesday’s home clash with Arsenal.

He was handed an 11-match suspension and fined £10,000.

Di Canio loses his mind.

MARCH 2005

Most people will remember this one…

Southampton midfielder David Prutton was given a 10-match ban after he shoved referee Alan Wiley.

The incident occurred during the Saints’ home clash against Arsenal – and further added to then boss Harry Redknapp’s relegation woes.

Prutton was also slapped with a £6,000 fine for laying his hands on Wiley, in which he received a second booking for a mistimed challenge on Robert Pires.

Prutton’s red mist cost Saints.


Guarani defender Ferreira completely lost his head during a third division Brazilian League clash against Boa.

The 32-year-old went berserk when the referee had adjudged he had elbowed an opposition forward – and subsequently pushed the official to the ground.

Players on both sides tried to intervene and stop Ferreira’s momentum as the ref pulled out his red card.

Didn’t hold back: Ferreira.


Blackburn Rovers’ Hope Akpan was handed a four-match ban and fined £5,000 by the Football Association after pushing referee Scott Duncan during their defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

The confrontation took place after the man in charge had disallowed his goal for handball.

Akpan was soon given his marching orders.

A rush of blood from Hope Akpan.


New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones created headlines after confronting and pushing referee Mark Geiger during the club’s MLS play-off defeat to D.C United.

Jones’ reaction was over the top after he felt his team should have been awarded a penalty.

The only reward he received was a red card.

Lost control: Jones.

And it’s not just players getting in trouble, back in September 2012, then Newcastle boss Alan Pardew pushed assistant referee Stuart Burt.

He was sent-off and handed a two-match ban, on top of a £20,000 fine.

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