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Biggest Controversies in UEFA Champions League History

Fri 07 May 2021 | 15:00

Football is a beautiful sport and you can see the passion and raw feeling in the drama of a match. The best football competition yet is the Champions League, but even in this glorified competition, ugly things have happened. Let's check out the Biggest Controversies in UEFA Champions League History.

Since the foundation of the European Cup or as in today's words, Champions League, football fans have seen the highest quality of the sport portrayed by the top European clubs. There are countless memorable nights that football lovers have in mind for good. Despite all the beauty in the Champions League, unfortunate things have happened too that wish never to see such things again. Some of these disgraceful acts are done by players, some of them by clubs, and worst of all are those done by football officials and executives.

It is one of the biggest threats to the spirit of football. Fair play, honesty, and striving with heart and soul are what keeps football a "Jogo Bonito". Let's review the

most controversial moments in UEFA Champions League history

with the hope that they will not be repeated.

The followings are some of the biggest controversies in UEFA Champions League history:

There are some mistakes that are hard to justify, even if you look at them optimistically.

The PSG-Basaksehir Racial Incident

One of the most recent and

top Champions League controversies of all time

was in a game between

Paris Saint-Germain

and

Basaksehir

. In the group stage of the 2020 Champions League, players abandoned the game after 14 minutes following an alleged racist incident. The fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, had used racist language. 

Basaksehir’s entire team then walked down the tunnel and was followed by PSG players.The match was duly suspended for more than an hour before the Turkish side tweeted their players would not be returning. The club posted on Twitter: “Our players have taken a decision NOT TO go back on the pitch after our Assistant Coach Pierre Webo has been exposed to racist behavior by the fourth official.”

Video footage on social media showed

Demba Ba

confronting the fourth official over comments he made to Webo, the club’s assistant coach. Ba can be heard saying: “You never say ‘this white guy’, you say ‘this guy', so why when you’re mentioning him… listen to me… why when you mention a black guy, why do you say ‘this black guy’.’

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan also tweeted about the incident and urged UEFA to act. He said: “I strongly condemn the racist remarks made against Pierre Webo, one of our representatives, Başakşehir’s technical team, and I believe that the necessary steps will be taken by UEFA.“We are unconditionally against racism and discrimination in sports and all areas of life.”

The game was resumed with another set of referees on another day and Sebastian Coltescu has been suspended until the end of the season, had been ordered to "attend an educational program before June 30, 2021.”

Juventus Doping 

In 1994,

AC Milan

was ruling European football after Berlusconi bought the club in 1986. Agnelli brothers and the fiat company came up with major changes in their staff. Antonio Giraudo, the former executive of Fiat company, became

Juventus

managing director. He hired Luciano Moggi from

Roma

to be the club's sporting director. Back then, Moggi was known for his skills in the transfer market.

Juventus former striker Bettega joined the club as the Vice-president. Marcello Lippi who had a successful season at the

Napoli

replaced Giovanni Trapattoni. Beneath these major changes at the club, there was another one that later became important. Riccardo Agricola, who was in the medical team since 1985, was promoted to the club's doctor.

Juventus defeated 

Ajax

 in a close match and won the UEFA Champions League's final after 11 years in 1996. Back then, Ajax was one of the best teams in football history. The team Giraudo, Moggi, and Lippi built had a marvelous era, but after controversial comments by Zdenek Zeman, some questions raised. Zdenek Zeman, who was AS Roma's manager at the time, pointed his finger at Juventus players and said to L'espresso magazine, "get out of the pharmacy”.

In one of the

biggest controversies in UEFA Champions League history

, after searching Juventus facilities, 281 different types of drugs were found. But hardly any of them were illegal at the time. The investigations continued until 2002 that enough evidence was collected for the trial. It turned out that Antonio Giraudo and Riccardo Agricola had a plan to give pharmaceutical products to almost all of the club's players between July 1994 and September 1998. 

 

Gianluca Vialli admitted Agricola regularly administered substances without justification. Zinedine Zidane and Alex Del Piero also admitted taking substances, but they believed they were creatine and vitamin injections. Juventus players were suspected to take substances like Samyr, Neoton, and EPO. In 2004, the Turin court found Agricola Guilty and sentenced him to 22 months in jail. But Giraudo's charges were cleared.

Chelsea-Barcelona Decisions

There are two infamous matches between

Chelsea

and

Barcelona

that are considered two of the biggest controversies in UEFA Champions League history. The first one was in 2005 as the first leg of the last 16 in Nou Camp. The referee of the match was Swedish man Anders Frisk. Frisk was a high-profile, top-rated referee, although he went through some problems for an earlier European match. In a Champions League game between Roma and

Dynamo Kyiv

, he had to abandon the match after being hit by a coin that hurt his forehead.

In the Chelsea Barcelona match, the referee sent Didier Drogba and Chelsea lost the first leg, 2-1. Chelsea manager José Mourinho said that "Frisk had invited Barca boss Frank Rijkaard into his room at half-time."After the match, Frisk and his family received death threats from anonymous sources. That made Frisk have an early retirement. Chelsea won the second leg in London, 4-2, and advanced to the next round.

The second most infamous one is the semi-final match in 2009. Tom Henning Ovrebo was the referee of the second leg in London, while the first leg was goalless. In the second leg, Chelsea under Guus Hiddink was doing great. After many efforts, Chelsea scored a goal, putting them in the lead. Several Chelsea penalty appeals were all denied, while some of them very reasonable penalties.

After the late goal from Andres Iniesta that put Barcelona in the lead due to the away-goal rule, Chelsea players lost their patience. Michael Ballack confronted the referee demanding a handball, but the referee ignored it. Drogba snapped in front of the camera and pointed the match as "a disgrace,".

Ovrebo also received many death threats, but he tried to ignore them like penalties. In 2012, Ovrebo told The Times: "I still get a few death threats, but they go straight into the garbage box. I don't take them seriously, although sometimes I wonder about the people who send them. Just yesterday, I got an email from a Chelsea fan saying he wanted to kill me and my family."

The Abandoned Derby of Milan

Hooliganism has always been one of the biggest controversies in UEFA Champions League history. The most recent hooligans-involved controversies were for the match between

Sevilla

and Juventus in 2016. In that act of violence, some so-called "ultra-supporters" of both sides engaged in a fight resulted in severe injuries for some of them. But the most notorious football matches

Inter

and Milan faced in the Milan derby.

It was the Champions League semi-finals. Milan won the first leg, 2-0 and in the second leg Shevchenko scored another goal for them. Inter fans were obviously angry and after Markus Merk disallowed Steban Cambiasso's goal in 71' the crowd gone crazy. Furious Inter fans started to blame the referee. The Ultra Inter fans were sitting behind Milan's goal. They started to throw flares into the pitch.

Markus Merk first attempted to continue the game, but after a flare hit the shoulder of Milan goalkeeper Dida, he temporarily suspended the match. While the players were waiting for orders from the match officials, one of the most iconic photos of football was taken where Materazzi and

Rui Costa

were standing next to each other.

Inter players started to go around the field and ask the fan to calm. Teams returned to the field to finish the match, but more flares started to bombarding Milan's penalty box and Merk called the match abandoned. Carlo Ancelotti, Milan manager, said "The reaction of the Inter fans was completely unexpected. I was really surprised because I have never seen something like that in all of the Milan derbies that I have taken part in."

The match resulted in a 3-0 victory for Milan's side. Inter was fined 300,000 Swiss francs (about £132,000). Inter was also had to play behind closed doors for the home matches in European competitions. According to talksport UEFA director of communications, William Gaillard said: “This is the highest fine in the history of Uefa and the loss of four home games will mean they lose out on revenue for around €8 million (£5.5m).

Fixed Draws

There is all kind of conspiracy theories on any level for the Champions League Draws. The problem is when there is just too much around one single thing, you start to have questions. Sepp Blatter, the ex-empire of football in 2016, said to AS about Fixed Draws, "Of course it's possible technically. It doesn't happen in FIFA, but I've witnessed draws at the European level where it's happened but never in FIFA.

Of course, it can be done, but it never happened under my watch— never." latter claims that "Balls are put in the freezer before the draw at the slightest touch you can tell if the balls are hot or cold. By touching them, you know exactly what you have."  The "hot and cold balls" is not the only theory. According to the daily mail, "Heated balls, squishy balls, heavier balls, bigger balls –, we've heard all these conspiracy theories of how UEFA allegedly rig their Champions League draws."

In one of the most controversial moments in UEFA Champions League history, Ahmet Çakar, former official, FIFA referee, extremely suggests that fixing favorable draws is quite practical. In 2013, he performed a live draw on Turkish television and picked a full fixed draw, claiming that in UEFA, people who pick the draws are "carry[ing] metal objects that sense vibrations in the balls being selected".

In 2014 Bleacher Report reported that a Twitter account named

@uefacorruption

has predicted the draw the morning before the actual draw. The draws were

Borussia Dortmund

 vs Chelsea,

Real Madrid

Vs

Manchester United

, Bayern München vs Barcelona, and 

Atlético Madrid

Vs Paris Saint-Germain. The problem is, these draws are often performed by our favorite former football stars.

Marseille Affair

1992–93 was the first time UEFA used Champions League branding instead of the European Cup. Olympique de

Marseille

was dominating the French league. They won four consecutive league titles since 1988 and they were leading on the table in 1992-93. They had great players like Didier Deschamps, Abedi Pele, Rudi Völler, Alen Bokšić, Marcel Desailly, and Fabien Barthez in their squad. Two years before, Marseille was also the finalist.

In the 1991 European Cup final Marseille faced

Red Star

. It was the first European Cup final for both teams. Marseille, with captain Jean-Pierre Papin, had a lot of hope, but they lost one of the most boring finals in penalty shootouts. Siniša Mihajlović Red Star phenomena describe the match as "the most boring final match in European Cup history."

In 1993, Marseille reached the final round by one point more than the Rangers. The final was against Milan, who had added Papin to their gigantic squad. Marseille won the match with a goal from Basile Boli and became the first French team on the throne of Europe. Soon, it turned out, Marseille was receiving extra help from their executive board.

In one of the biggest controversies in UEFA Champions League history, Marseille chairman Bernard Tapie, with the help of general manager Jean-Pierre Bernès asked Jean-Jacques Eydelie to offer Valenciennes players bribes. Christophe Robert and Jorge Burruchaga took money to go easy on the match against Marseille. Marseille was going for both domestic and European leagues.

Valenciennes

lost the match and Marseille had the whole fresh squad for the European final. Jacques Glassmann refused the bribe and revealed that his teammates were committed to match-fixing. In 2006, Eydelie alleged that the Marseille player had suspicious injections before the final. In 2011, Mark Hateley claimed that he was also received a bribe offer to not play against Marseille. Did the disgrace worth it?

Heysel Disaster

May 29, 1985, is one of the darkest days of football history and one of the top Champions League controversies of all time. Heysel Stadium in Brussels was the host of the European Cup final match. The stadium was in such poor condition that the presidents of both finalists

Liverpool

and Juventus were asking UEFA for changing the venue. It later was unveiled that UEFA representatives spent only half an hour inspecting the stadium. It is not clear what happened between the Juventus fans and Liverpool's before the match, but some say they started to throw rocks at each other. Liverpool fans charged towards Juventus fans.

Juventus fans ran next to the barrier and the wall, but both barriers and after that, the wall collapsed. 39 people died, mostly Juventus fans, and 600 people were injured. Juventus fans started a riot act in retaliation for the injured fans, but police prevented them so the disaster wouldn’t get even worse. Despite all this, match officials decided that to let one of the

biggest controversies in UEFA Champions League history

begin.

The match was heavily on the influence of the disaster. Apparently, they wanted to run the match to avoid further conflicts between the fans. In one of the most brutal referee mistakes of all time, André Daina awarded a penalty kick for Juventus due to a foul committed near one meter outside the box. Michel Platini scored the penalty and there were no other goals in the match. Juventus had won their first European title, but remorse was upon everyone, even the champion team.

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