Top 10 controversies in the Premier League over the last decade

Controversies are part and parcel of the modern sport and the Premier League has certainly dealt with its fair share of ups and downs over the last decade. With that in mind, here are the top 10 controversies that effectively rocked the English top-flight.

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra

On 15 October 2011, Liverpool hosted Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at Anfield. Suarez had a series of altercations with United left-back Patrice Evra throughout the match, including one moment where the pair exchanged words in the box whilst awaiting a corner.

Evra complained to the match referee after the game that Suarez had used racist language against him and the case was referred to the FA, who organized an independent panel to assess the case.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele
Luis Suarez (Image credit: Getty)

Suarez was handed an eight-game ban and a fine on 20 December 2011 for the incident

Ryan Giggs’ affair

One of the most significant figures of the Premier League era, Ryan Giggs was an honest family man – one who had earned the adoration of millions.

When it became apparent in February 2012 that the Welshman was involved in a controversial case involving super-injunctions, privacy and parliamentary privilege, the football fraternity stood by in shock. BBC News reported that the Manchester United legend was involved in an extra-marital affair with former Miss Wales and Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

If that wasn’t enough, Giggs’ reputation slumped further when it became apparent that the veteran was the culprit in an eight-year affair with Natasha Giggs — his brother’s wife.

Terry’s ban

An event that marred not only the reputation of the player even further but brought to light the tones of racism that continue to pollute the modern game, John Terry was punished in 2012 for racist remarks made against Anton Ferdinand.

On November 1, 2011, Terry was placed under police investigation after bad-mouthing Anton Ferdinand. In addition, the centre-back was fined his week’s wages, as well as handed a four-match ban.

Chelsea news: Shadow of John Terry's racial abuse case still hangs over Stamford Bridge
Terry and Anton Ferdinand (Image credit: Getty)

Although racism is known to be an issue in sport, the subject was not one very widely broadcast in England prior to this event and was more of an issue in countries such as Russia and Ukraine.

Kolo Toure’s failed drug test

Kolo Toure was found to have failed a drugs test in November 2011 (via BBC Sport) and was hit with a six-month ban.

Manchester City also fined the Ivorian six weeks’ wages for his mistake.

Mark Clattenburg Racist Accusations

It is one thing for the players on the pitch to be accused of racism but it’s another issue entirely when the allegations are aimed at a referee since the officials are there to make sure such matters don’t pose an issue. In 2012, Daily Mail reported that two unnamed Chelsea players said they heard referee Mark Clattenburg make racist remarks during a fixture against Manchester United.

Suarez bites Ivanovic

In a 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Liverpool at Anfield in April 2013, the Liverpool striker was involved in an incident with Chelsea defender Ivanovic as the two contested a corner.

Ivanovic’s Uruguayan opponent had bitten him and there were teeth marks on his arm and neck as proof. With the marks and replays clear proof of what had happened, Suarez was hit with a 10-game ban by the FA for his actions and received widespread criticism within the sport.

Granit Xhaka swears at his own fans

Arsenal’s ex-captain Granit Xhaka’s reaction to being booed off the field this season will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many.

Granit Xhaka
Xhaka in action (Image credit: Getty)

After a game fraught with controversy from the first minute, Xhaka was substituted by manager Unai Emery after his side had surrendered a two-goal lead to Crystal Palace, with the game tied at 2-2. Instead of running off the pitch, however, Xhaka sauntered his way to the touchline much to his own fans irking – who made their feelings known by resoundingly booing the Swiss international.

Xhaka responded in kind, with the onlooking cameras clearly capturing the captain bad-mouthing his own fans before ripping the shirt from his back and storming down the tunnel.

Joey Barton and Carlos Tevez clash in 2012

One of the most iconic days and games in English footballing history – Joey Barton’s red card seemed a clear-cut decision to many at the time.

Whilst there will be few that would argue that Barton didn’t deserve to walk for his altercation with City striker Carlos Tevez, it was the Argentine who had struck first in their clash. With the red card playing a crucial part in the near-unbelievable comeback and title-winning goal from Aguero that was to follow, however, it’s hard not to think about how things could have gone, had the referee viewed the incident a little differently.

Alan Pardew head-butts David Meyler

Whilst increasingly-rare in the modern game, fights between players always grab the headlines and have provided some of the most memorable and shocking moments. In March of 2014, Newcastle claimed a vital 4-1 win over rivals Hull at their KC Stadium but the game is remembered more for something that happened of the field in the second half.

As Hull’s David Meyler chased a ball that was running harmlessly out of play, he collided with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who took the contact extremely poorly and squared up to the Irish midfielder.

Pardew was eventually hit with a fine and a seven-match managerial ban – the longest and most severe punishment ever handed out to a manager in the Football Association’s history.

Sunderland escape points deduction

One of the lesser-remembered controversial moments from recent years, Sunderland pulled off two great escapes in the 2013/2014 season. Sunderland were found to have fielded an unregistered and ineligible player – Ji Dong-won – on five occasions across the season.

Despite the severity of this mistake, the north-east club were treated favourably due to a number of mitigating factors and were only hit with a six-figure fine – peanuts compared to the potential cost of relegation.