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7 players who had their contracts terminated for bizarre reasons

Sunaadh Sagar
Top 5 / Top 10
69.20K   //    Timeless

Adam Johnson had his contract with Sunderland terminated recentlyA footballer’s contract isn‘t worth the paper it is printed on, according to most people involved with the game. Given the ease with which players can hold a club hostage, it’s perhaps unsurprising that when a club is in the position to terminate a player's contract with full prejudice, they are not shy in pulling the trigger.However, oftentimes, the reasons for a club ending an association with a player go beyond the footballing pitch, with some very bizarre reasons being afforded in the recnt past.Here are a few of the instances when a player has had their contract terminated for quite odd reasons.

#1 Adrian Mutu - Chelsea

Mutu Chelsea
Adrian Mutu endured a torrid spell at Chelsea

Adrian Mutu arrived at Stamford Bridge in a blaze of glory. Scoring 4 goals in his first three games, the £15.8 million that Chelsea parted with to pry him away from Parma seemed money well spent. What followed, however, read like the script of a movie rather than a footballers career.

First, the Romanian captain’s turbulent two-year marriage to his wife Alexandra ended, with Mutu losing custody of his son as well. A sex scandal with a Romanian movie star was Mutu’s next story that served as tabloid fodder. A car chase involving police resulting in a driving ban also followed, which ended in the striker being advised to seek psychiatric help.

Mutu ought to have listened, as the final straw that broke Chelsea’s back was his admission that he had taken drugs, which were alleged to be cocaine. Chelsea came down hard on Mutu, sacking the Romanian with immediate effect, stating “In coming to a decision on this case, Chelsea believed the club's social responsibility to its fans, players, employees and other stakeholders in football regarding drugs was more important than the major financial considerations to the company.”

“Any player who takes drugs breaches his contract with the club as well as Football Association rules.” The case did not end there, as the London club later pursued damages to the tune of £14 million, which Mutu’s subsequent clubs Juventus and Livorno were advised to pay.

#2 Nicolas Anelka - West Brom

Anelka West Brom Quenelle
Nicolas Anelka had a short-lived spell with West Brom that ended on a sour note

Nicolas Anelka signed for West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer, a contract that would have kept the Frenchman at the club for a year. Clearly, Anelka knew that it was destined to be a short-term association with the club. However, the manner in which Anelka’s association with the West Midlands club ended is downright bizarre.

Anelka celebrated one of the rare goals he scored for West Brom with a gesture that was dubbed the ‘quenelle’. While the Frenchman claimed that his act was not anti-Semitic nor racist, the comedian credited with creating the gesture, Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, was linked with those very sentiments.

The FA took a dim view of Anelka’s act and banned the striker for 5 games while fining him 80,000 pounds as well. Anelka’s reaction? To announce on social media that he was ‘freeing’ himself from his West Brom contract, tweeting “I have taken the decision to free myself and put an end to the contract linking me with West Bromwich Albion.”


West Brom for their part, had this to day “Nicolas Anelka's purported termination of his Premier League contract this evening via Social Media was invalid as this was not conducted under the correct legal process as required by his contract.”

Terming Anelka’s behaviour ‘gross misconduct’, the Baggies cancelled the strikers contract days later, considering him far more trouble than he was worth.

#3 Adam Johnson - Sunderland

Adam Johnson Sunderland Trial
Adam Johnson had his contract with Sunderland terminated for the worst possible reason

This isn’t as much a bizarre reason as it is a downright ugly one. When Sunderland parted with £10 million for the English winger’s services in August 2012, little did they know that Johnson would come to be involved in a scandal that had the potential to drag the club’s name through the mud for no fault of their own.

Johnson was arrested in March last year for allegedly being involved in sexual activity with an underage girl. The Black Cats sided with their man, offering him support as Johnson was subject to an investigation. However, the winger recently pled guilty to the charge, with the case presently being heard before a jury.

Sunderland’s response to the guilty plea was brief, but dripping with contempt in its brevity, saying “In light of Adam Johnson's guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect. The club will make no further comment.”

Given that Johnson has played 3 years of his 4 year contract, Sunderland have a right to sue the winger for a breach of contract. However, the Black Cats have wisely decided against pursuing a potential £1 million windfall, given that the penalty outweighs Sunderland’s hopes of not being associated with the case at all.

#4 Sergi Guardiola - Barcelona

Sergi Guardiola Barcelona
Sergi Guardiola had a short-lived spell on Barcelona’s books

You would expect a footballer named Guardiola to have a long, storied career in Barcelona, but Sergi could not follow in Pep’s footsteps, try as he might. The midfielder was signed by Barcelona for their reserve side, but just an hour later found his contract terminated for a series of tweets praising Real Madrid and insulting Catalonia.

The tweets have been subsequently deleted, but it is of no avail, as the name Sergi Guardiola will forever by synonymous with a footballer’s stupidity leading to their contracts being terminated. The club even released a statement to that effect, saying:

“FC Barcelona have decided to rescind the contract signed by the player Sergi Guardiola this afternoon, who was due to join Barça B. It emerged that he has published offensive tweets about both Barcelona and Catalonia.”

Understandably, Guardiola was full of regret in an interview he gave to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, saying “I apologise to Barca and to Catalonia. It is a misunderstanding.” 

“I didn’t write [the tweets], it was in 2013 and I didn’t even know they existed. It was put on my profile, but it wasn’t me. I ask for forgiveness a thousand times - I have learnt a difficult lesson. I’m from Mallorca, I’m not anti-Catalan or anti-anything. My dream was to play for Barca, now it’s broken.”

#5 Ahn Jung Hwan - Perugia

Ahn Jung Hwan Korea Italy Perugia
The South Korean paid a heavy price for a golden goal

When Ahn-Jung Hwan scored an incredible extra time header for South Korea in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, little did he know that his club career was destined to take a nosedive. The Korean’s 117th minute golden goal dispatched Italy out of the World Cup in the Round-of-16 stage, making Ahn a national hero as South Korea qualified for the World Cup quarterfinals for the first, and only time in their history.

Ahn woke up the next day to the rudest of shocks, as he learnt that the club to which he was contracted to, Italian Serie A side Perugia, had abruptly cancelled his contract. In what can only be described as the pettiest contract cancellation ever, then Perugia chairman Luciano Gaucci justified the decision, saying “I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer.”

“He was a phenomenon only when he played against Italy. I am a nationalist and I regard such behaviour not only as an affront to Italian pride but also an offence to a country which two years ago opened its doors to him That gentleman will never set foot in Perugia again.”

A striker who had his contract cancelled for scoring a vital goal. Truly, truly bizarre.

#6 Julio Rey - Deportivo la Coruna

Julio Rey Deportivo la Coruna
A teenage indiscretion destroyed this young midfielder’s big money move

What is it with promising, young Spanish footballers and their use, or misuse rather, of Twitter? Julio Rey found out the hard way that it does not pay to abuse a club on Twitter, especially if that very club in question want to sign you in the future.

Rey, whose surname literally translates to ‘King’, displayed behaviour rather unbecoming of his name in 2012, when he tweeted the following:

Julio Rey Deportivo

When translated into English, the tweet is rather rude, saying “F*** Depor, F*** Riazor” (Riazor happens to be Deportivo la Coruna’s home ground). However, the Spanish club were unaware of the tweet when they decided to rescue Julio Rey from his middling career in the fourth tier of Spanish football three years later.

The 20-year-old even posed for pictures with Deportivo, but as the club’s legal team trawled through his twitter account, they found the offending tweet and called off the move. Julio Rey even deleted his twitter account in a bid to salvage the move, but it was fruitless, as the club later released this statement:

“Real Club Deportivo, who announced the signing of Julio Rey in the afternoon after the player signed his contract with the club, have decided to cancel the transfer after analysing an unfortunate comment on the player’s person social media profile several years ago.”

“[Deportivo] believes that a player deserves to wear the blue and white shirt if he’s an example of sportsmanship, respectful of their rivals, committed and has positive feelings toward Depor, it’s colours, it’s crest and those values that represent this institution.”


#7 Iran Women\'s National Team

Iran Football Team Womens
Gender confusion has decimated the ranks of the Women’s Iran National Team

Women in Iran are banned from attending the matches of their male counterparts. However, the men of Iran seemed to have infiltrated the female game far more than normal, as the Iranian FA recently required that random gender testing be carried out at training sessions of clubs and the national team.

Their reason? In 2014, 4 players of the Iran Women’s National Team had their contracts torn up for being... men.

Rather, they were men amidst a gender change operation, but were still, ‘men’ since their procedures hadn’t been completed. Gender change is legal in Iran, and coupled with the fact that Iranian women play with a hijab and full-length sleeves and slacks, it’s rather easy to be a covert ‘woman’ in the national team.

There was a route back offered to the banned players, however, as a senior Iranian official said, “If these people can solve their problems through surgery and be in a position to receive the necessary medical qualifications, they will then be able to participate in [women's] football.”

Clearly, Iran are a pioneer in bending the rules to an extreme degree just to ‘potentially’ better their national team. The things one does for success.

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