The Longest Bans in Football History

Epic Suspensions: The Longest Bans in Football History

Although it has become quite a common incident, a player receiving a ban from football somehow finds its way to become breaking news.

The latest addition to the list is Brentford and England striker Ivan Toney, who was banned for eight months. This is after breaching 262 Premier League rules around betting. Despite, thirty of them being withdrawn, he pleaded guilty to the other 232.

He returned to football again only in 2024 January to help his side extend their top-flight appearance to another year.

Toney’s response to the ruling on social media was: “Today I have received notification of my eight-month ban from football following a hearing before an FA Regulatory Commission that took place yesterday. I am naturally disappointed that I will be unable to play for the next eight months.”

Here is a list of the top 10 longest bans in footballer history.

10. Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand (Credits: The Mirror)

Even though Rio Ferdinand’s career was filled with multiple trophies, his career did face a roadblock.

In September 2003 his superb career entered a dark tunnel as he refused to submit to a random drug test resulting in a punishment in the last month of the year.

He was given an eight-month ban from football and also fined £50,000. At that time, Ferdinand was 25 and went on to have an incredibly successful career with Manchester United afterward.

Now Rio Ferdinand is one of the most celebrated defenders of his generation. He even has a permanent fixture on our TV screens thanks to his regular punditry.

9. Mark Bosnich

Mark Bosnich (Credits: Getty)

Mark Bosnich was playing for Chelsea at the time when he was handed a massive nine-month ban at the end of 2002, after being found guilty of two charges. One charge was improper conduct and the other was a positive result for a banned substance.

The questionable substance was cocaine and thereby FA took immediate action. While the financial penalty was off the cards, the disciplinary commission ordered a payment of around £10,000.

PFA chairman Gordon Taylor stated.”Mark claims his drink was spiked but, whilst duty bound to give it consideration, it was a guilty verdict with a scale of penalties weighted down,”

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8. Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona (Credits: Irish Mirror)

Cantona lost his cool away at Crystal while the use of cocaine may seem to be making a background appearance in the context. The Manchester United striker went on to make one of the most iconic (and not in a good way) moments in Premier League history.

In 1995, after hearing racial slurs from the Crystal Palace end Cantona’s temper reached the breaking point and Matthew Simmons(spectator) got a kick in the chest. Later, he was dragged away by the players and after refusing to apologise landed a nine-month ban from FIFA and the FA. Initially, the Frenchman was told to spend two weeks in prison but was soon changed to 120 hours of community service.

7. Diego Maradona (twice)

Diego Maradona (Credits: The New York Times)

Diego Maradona has been immortalized in football but he was part of many things, especially not playing by the rules, which still sheds a few mysteries about him.

Being too private is not always wise though and the Argentine managed to get two separate 15-month bans during his footballing days. The first was in 1991 for his cocaine addiction, and the next was in the 1994 World Cup when his suspicion turned out true after anti-doping commissioners found substances containing ephedrine in his bloodstream.

6. Joey Barton

Joey Barton (Credits: The Guardian)

Joey Barton has been notorious for making headlines for the wrong reasons. This is a man who has probably made more news outside the pitch than inside. The Englishman spent time in prison before for assault on numerous accounts of him being violent towards both teammates and strangers.

Violence was not the reason for him to receive a massive 18-month ban in 2017, but rather, it was betting. According to FA it was ‘alleged that between 26 March 2006 and 13 May 2016, he placed 1,260 bets on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, football matches or competitions in breach of FA Rule E8.’

5. David Bystroň

David Bystroň (Credits: UEFA)

In 2012, Defender David Bystroň was handed a massive two-year ban from football after being tested positive for a banned substance after Plzeň’s Champions League win over BATE Borisov.

Just 29 years old at the time, he did not even appeal the charge, while the substance name was not found, the Czech media reported it was methamphetamine, which still raises multiple questions.

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4. Juanito

Juanito (Credits: Marca)

Former Real Madrid player Juanito was widely known for an uncontrollable bad temper on the pitch, which massively got the better of him in 1978.

During the game against Grasshoppers in the European Cup, Juanito went haywire assaulting both the referee and one of the linesmen. This incident handed him a huge two-year ban by UEFA, but his troubles did not stop there.

3. Juanito (again)

Juanito (Credits: El Mundo)

A coming story is nothing compared to what Juanito would receive later on. In 1987, Bayern Munich welcomed Real Madrid for the European Cup semi-final at the Olympiastadion which saw Bayern in the winning position.

Lothar Matthäus’s foul led him shoved to the floor by one player while Juanito charged in and stood on the German’s torso for a while before then kicking him in the face with his studs. This turned out to be a genuine assault that has no place in any walk of life, rather not even acceptable in combat sports.

Although fined £5,000 by Real Madrid, and banned for five years, his Real Madrid career came to an end with just two moments where he lost his head. Tragically, Juanito was killed in a car crash at the age of 37 in 1992.

2. Enoch West

Enoch West (Credits: Manchester News)

In a tale of the past, former Manchester United striker Enoch West was caught in a betting scandal in 1915. Those involved were given lifetime bans or an option to fight in the First World War.

Everyone, except West, took the latter, and his ban was only lifted 30 years later when he was 59 years old.

1. Roberto Rojas

Roberto Rojas (Credits: Getty)

The biggest ban of all time was given to Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas when Chile was up against Brazil in a World Cup qualifier in 1989 with nothing but a win to guarantee progress.

However, as Chile were down 1-0, Rojas went down holding his face when a firework from the stands passed nearby, with an assumption that it aimed to hit him. It was an incident that could easily have lead to a void result seeing Brazil ultimately kicked out by FIFA. Later, Rojas was carried off the field while Chile refused to come back and play due to an unsafe environment.

The video evidence exposed a different story, soon showing the firework did not strike Rojas and he inflicted the wound himself with a razor blade hidden in his glove.

This unusual scene ended Chile’s hope while Brazil were handed a 2-0 victory.

Rojas and coach Orlando Aravena with team doctor Daniel Rodriguez were all banned for life by FIFA.

By 2001 FIFA lifted the ban on request by Rojas and eventually, it remains the longest ban handed out to a player to date.

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