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5 worst fights to have broken out on a football pitch

Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10

The brawl between Valencia and Inter Milan in 2007 shamed both clubs
The brawl between Valencia and Inter Milan in 2007 shamed both clubs

While there have been famed “hard men” in the sport of football since the game began, these players have usually risen to the public conscience by their intimidating nature and use of harder tackles on the pitch rather than their use of actual violence. At its heart, football has no room for grappling or punches.

Unfortunately, though there have been instances of football games becoming violent and players acting more like UFC fighters when it comes to settling their differences. Sure, it’s a shameful part of the game, but in some ways, it’s almost fun to watch too.

Here are five of the worst fights to have broken out on a football pitch.

#1 Valencia vs. Inter Milan, 2007

The Champions League is always a heated tournament – it would be, as the stakes involved are so high – but things went way too far at the end of the round of 16 clash between Valencia and Inter Milan in the 2006/07 edition. The first leg of the tie had ended 2-2 at the San Siro, giving Valencia an advantage on away goals, and when the second leg at the Mestalla ended 0-0, the Spanish side moved onto the quarter-finals.

The game was marred badly however by a wild brawl following the final whistle. Things got so bad that both teams were charged with improper conduct by UEFA, while five individual players were charged with gross unsporting conduct. The flash paper was lit when a rough tackle occurred in the dying moments of the game, leaving Valencia’s Carlos Marchena flattened. Tempers flared and both sides got involved, but it seemed like the issue was over when the final whistle blew.

Instead, Marchena kicked out at Inter’s Nicolas Burdisso. Suddenly, all hell broke loose with players from both sides brawling and exchanging blows, and in a shameful moment, unused Valencia substitute David Navarro sneaked into the fracas and hit Burdisso with a punch that broke his nose. He then sprinted away while Inter players chased him, trying in vain to trip him up.

In the end, both sides issued apologies, but Navarro, Marchena and Burdisso – as well as Inter players Maicon and Ivan Cordoba – were all charged, with UEFA deciding to ban Navarro from European football for six months. The footage remains shocking eleven years on.

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