These players have been in the news for the wrong reasons.

Footballers have become constant media fodder owing to their rising popularity and the increasing coverage. They have been escalated to the levels of celebrities, in the eye of paparazzi-hungry shutterbugs and social media. Their popularity has now transcended from their professional exploits to their personal lives as well.

This has led footballers to be the epitome of all good qualities and be role models for the people witnessing every part of their lives. While there have been many instances of role models in football, there have been a few players who have always been a wrong influence through their activities.

Some of the footballers have also been downright unlawful and have faced jail time or punishments owing to criminal offences as well which have made them villains in the public eye. We take a look at five such instances of footballers being incarcerated or punished due to criminal offences.

5. Adam Johnson

In March 2016, former Sunderland and Manchester City player Adam Johnson was convicted of underage sexual activity and paedophilia. Johnson was found to have entered into an extra-marital relationship with a 15-year old girl in 2014 and thereby also had intimate moments with the girl.

The midfielder was arrested in 2016 and was charged six years in prison. But Johnson was later released on 22 March 2019, having served half his sentence owing to good behaviour.

The incident with the local lad really left a bad impression on his club and people in Sunderland. He was immediately removed from the club and despite being cleared to play professionally he is without a professional club and by the looks of it, he doesn’t seem to get one any time soon.

4. Arda Turan

In October 2018, multiple media outlets reported that Turkish midfielder Arda Turan was in possession of a firearm and was involved in an altercation with a singer.

The incident involved Turan in a brawl with Berkay Sahin and also firing with a gun on the floor to cause panic. He was proven guilty in Turkish courts of illegal possession of weapons, assault and intented injury. He was given a prison sentence of three years, but his sentence was suspended contingent on the fact that he doesn’t commit any crime in the next five years.

He was immediately fined on his return by Istanbul Basaksehir 2.5m Turkish Lira (350,000 pounds) for his misdeed. He was on loan from FC Barcelona that season and also faced a 16-match ban for striking the assistant referee as well which was later reduced to 10 months.

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3. Duncan Ferguson

Former Everton manager and Rangers player Duncan Ferguson has always been considered a hot-head and one with a very short temper. Ferguson has been convicted on multiple cases of aggravated assault and faced fines and many more. He faced three months in prison for an intentional headbutt on the pitch to a player but served only 44 days, his case was one of the rare cases where an on-field incident has resulted in such a punishment being meted out.

He has other crimes to show on his rap sheet as well. He was also convicted of assaulting police officers and was fined for the same. He was also given one-year probation for having inflicted harm to a physically-handicapped individual.

2. Joey Barton

There is no doubt that Joey Barton is among the worst-behaved individuals when it comes to footballers. The former Newcastle and Manchester City midfielder doesn’t need a second invitation to an altercation and is not averse to blows and punches.

He has constantly been on the wrong side of law and his rap sheet is among the longest in professional football. Joey Barton was convicted of criminal charges for running over reckless driving. Barton reportedly drove his car at a pedestrian in the early hours of the morning and was charged with the same. He spent 77 days in prison for his actions.

1. Bruno Fernandes De Souza

No, not the current Manchester United midfielder, but former Flamengo goalkeeper and captain Bruno Fernandes De Souza who was given a 22-year prison sentence for the ghastly murder and mutilation of his partner Eliza Samudio. Bruno pleaded guilty to the charges.

But in a surprising turn of events much to the chagrin of Samudio’s family and the general public where the case had become a furore, De Souza was released in 2019 on grounds of “good behaviour.” What’s even more flummoxing is that he was offered a professional contract by second-tier club Boa Esporte. Post his release he wasn’t even repentant in the way he spoke about his heinous act. The case is still subject to reasonable displeasure among the media and the public in Brazil.

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