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World Football

Top 10 instances when football teams walked out of games

Published at :March 4, 2023 at 10:27 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Ritvik Verma


While football can bring people together, it has also been the site of numerous controversies throughout its history

Football is the world's most popular sport, with millions of fans tuning in to watch matches every year. However, while the sport can bring people together, it has also been the site of numerous controversies throughout its history. From disputed decisions by referees to acts of violence and racism, there have been times when the beautiful game has turned ugly. One of the most striking ways in which this has happened is when football teams have walked out of games in protest.

There are many reasons why teams might decide to walk off the field. Some players might feel that the referees treated them unfairly. While others might be responding to racist or abusive behaviour from the opposing team or fans. In other cases, teams might walk out in response to political or social issues that are affecting their country or region.

In this article, we will explore the top 10 instances when football teams walked out of games. These moments are a testament to the complex and often fraught nature of football and the world around it.

10. 1960 Olympic Final

The 1960 Olympic football final between Argentina and Italy saw Argentina walk out of the match just six minutes in after a disputed decision by the referee. The decision to disallow an Argentina goal led to players and coaches arguing with the referee and eventually leaving the field. The match was awarded to Italy by default. Later, Argentina remained banned from international competition for two years.

9. 1985 European Cup Final

The 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus in Brussels was marred by violence before the game. Liverpool fans breached a fence and charged towards Juventus fans, causing a crash that killed 39 people and injured hundreds more. Despite the tragedy, the match played to completion with Juventus winning 1-0. The event remains one of the darkest moments in European football history.

8. 2004 African Cup of Nations

In a match between Senegal and Tunisia at the 2004 African Cup of Nations, the Senegal team walked off the field in protest over a controversial decision made by the referee. The referee awarded a penalty to Tunisia that led to a goal. The Senegalese players felt that the decision was unjust and walked off the field. The match got abandoned and Tunisia got awarded a 2-0 victory. The incident sparked outrage in Senegal and the players' actions were praised by many for their protest against unfair officiating.

7. 2013 World Cup Qualifier

In a match between Ivory Coast and Senegal at the 2013 World Cup Qualifiers, the Senegal team walked off the field in protest over a controversial decision made by the referee. The referee had awarded a penalty to Ivory Coast that led to a goal. But the Senegalese players felt that the decision was unjust and walked off the field. The match subsequently abandoned, and the Senegalese Football Federation fined by FIFA for the team's actions. The incident highlighted the issue of poor officiating in football and the need for fair play.

6. 2018 World Cup

The incident happened during the group stage match between Switzerland and Serbia at the 2018 World Cup. Swiss players celebrated their winning goal with an Albanian eagle gesture. Serbian fans find it offensive due to political tensions between the two countries. The gesture led to angry reactions from Serbian players and fans. The match remained suspended.

5. 2018 World Cup Qualifier

The South African team walked off the field in protest over a controversial penalty. It was awarded to Senegal in a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal in 2018. The referee awarded the penalty for a handball, even though the ball appeared to hit the player's leg. After Hlatshwayo converted the penalty, the South African players protested and eventually walked off the field. The match remained eventually abandoned and replayed, with Senegal winning 2-0.

4. 2023 Indian Super League

The quarterfinal match between Bengaluru FC and the Kerala Blasters was abruptly stopped after referee Crystal John made a controversial decision that resulted in a goal. The game was in stoppage time and approaching 100 minutes. The game even up to that point, and the score remained 0-0. Though after Bengaluru and Sunil Chettri won a free kick, things got out of hand. The Blasters declared the game void because they disagreed with the decision, and Bengaluru FC was awarded the win. Bengaluru FC moved on to the next stage of the tournament

3. 2020 Serie A

In a Serie A match between Cagliari and Inter Milan in 2020, Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku was racially abused by Cagliari fans. The abuse consisted of monkey chants and other racial slurs, and Lukaku called on the referee to intervene. The match was temporarily suspended, but the Inter Milan team decided to continue playing after Lukaku and his teammates were offered the choice to either continue the match or abandon it. Inter Milan went on to win 2-1, but the incident sparked widespread condemnation and renewed calls for action against racism in football.

2. 2020 Ligue 1

Istanbul Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo was racially abused by a fourth official. Webo was subjected to racial slurs by the official, who referred to him as "the Black one" and "the African". Both teams were walking off the field in protest and the match was eventually resumed the following day. A new set of officials overseeing the game. The incident drew attention to the problem of racism in football and led to calls for greater action to be taken against discrimination.

1. 2021 World Cup Qualifiers

In a World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina, Brazilian health officials entered the field to remove several Argentine players who they claimed had breached Covid-19 protocols by failing to quarantine before the match. The match was subsequently abandoned after Argentina players refused to take the field without their teammates who had been removed.

Football is more than just a sport – it is a global phenomenon that has the power to bring people together and inspire them to greatness. However, it is also a site of controversy, where issues of power, identity, and politics can come to the fore. One of the most visible and dramatic ways in which this can happen is when football teams decide to walk off the field in protest.

As the football community continues to grow and evolve, it is important to learn from these moments and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for the sport we all love. Whether it is through supporting anti-racism campaigns, improving player safety, or promoting fair play and respect on and off the field, we can all play a part in ensuring that football remains a force for good in the world.

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