21 March 2023

From Cantona kung-fu kick to Barton on the rampage – famous players who saw red

21 March 2023

Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines for barging referee Chris Kavanagh in Fulham’s 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Manchester United.

The Football Association has said the standard punishment for his dismissal at Old Trafford would be “clearly insufficient”.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at a selection of other players who were handed hefty suspensions for on-field misdemeanours.

Eric Cantona (eight months)

In one of the most memorable incidents in English football Eric Cantona sparked controversy when he kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace supporter having just been sent off while playing for Manchester United in 1995. He admitted a criminal charge of assault, for which he was sentenced to community service, while also receiving a £30,000 fine and an eight-month ban by the Football Association.

Paolo Di Canio (11 matches)

Another distinguished memory of the Premier League era saw Paolo Di Canio shove referee Paul Alcock to the ground after he was sent off in Sheffield Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal at Hillsborough in 1998. The incident was made more famous by the staggering manner in which Alcock stumbled to the ground. The authorities did not look favourably upon the Italian and he was fined £10,000 and banned for 11 matches.

Lee Bowyer (seven matches)

The former Leeds midfielder came close to being sacked by Newcastle in 2005 when he fought with team-mate Kieron Dyer during a defeat to Aston Villa which saw them both sent off. A criminal charge for brawling was issued by Northumbria Police and his punishment from the football authorities was also strong. The four-game ban for what was his second red card of the season was upgraded to seven by the FA, which also fined him £30,000. That was in addition to the six weeks wages’ he was fined by Newcastle.

David Prutton (10 matches)

Southampton midfielder David Prutton was given a 10-match ban after he shoved referee Alan Wiley during a Premier League match with Arsenal in 2005. Prutton took exception to being handed a second yellow card by the match official and lost his cool. It cost him £6,000 and a lengthy suspension.

Ben Thatcher (eight matches)

Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher was retrospectively sanctioned for a horror tackle on Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes in 2006, which left the Portuguese suffering a seizure pitchside. Thatcher was only booked by referee Dermot Gallagher at the time, but both City and the FA went in hard on the player. City suspended him for two matches, with the FA tagging a further six on to that, with another 15 suspended.

Joey Barton (12 matches)

Joey Barton was heavily sanctioned for his behaviour while playing for QPR against Manchester City in 2012. In the game most famous for Sergio Aguero’s last-minute title-winning goal, Barton had earlier seen red for clashing with Carlos Tevez. In the immediate aftermath he lost control and tried fighting several of the City players as he went on the rampage. Barton, who received a six-match ban in 2008 for a training-ground tackle on Ousmane Dabo that saw him jailed, was banned for four matches for the red card and for an additional eight games for what occurred afterwards.

Luis Suarez (10 matches)

Lengthy suspensions were not a new thing for the controversial Liverpool striker, who had served an eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra in 2011. And the Uruguayan had another sizeable sanction in 2013 when he bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. It was not seen by the referee at the time, but an independent panel found him guilty of violent conduct and slapped a 10-game ban on him. Barely 12 months later, having just joined Barcelona from Liverpool, he was banned from all football activity for four months following another biting incident, this time on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox