The summer of 2021 has been a veritable feast of footballing bitterness, from Marcos Rojo going full ‘American Chopper meme’ to French fans burying their heads in the sand.
You know the feeling: you’re on the wrong end of a marginal offside call, and the next minute you’re being teargassed after throwing a soundsystem at the referee.
But that’s football, a game of glorious winners and bad losers, in which the smallest perceived injustice can have you writing to your MP, kicking your opponent’s ankles or brandishing a fire extinguisher like a club.
Here are the most ungracious football losers of the summer…
1. Marcos Rojo & Boca Juniors
Weird season for Marcos Rojo. The defender spent the whole of the autumn in Manchester United exile, twiddling his thumbs along with Sergio Romero.
Then in January, possibly craving a bit of recognition, he got a fucking massive tattoo of the late Diego Maradona (smoking a cigar, in Fidel Castro garb, obviously), which Phil Jones would never have done.
A month later, Rojo was following in Maradona’s footsteps and signing for Boca Juniors, and by May he had won the inaugural ‘Diego Armando Maradona Cup’ with them.
But it looks like the defining image of Rojo’s year won’t be cup glory or even that fucking massive Maradona tattoo; it’ll be him wielding a fire extinguisher with the intention (unconfirmed) of boshing the heads of some match officials.
😅 Only Marcos Rojo would pick up a fire extinguisher in tunnel brawl!pic.twitter.com/ywH0Af8jlv
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) July 21, 2021
In fact, most of the Boca team were involved in a wild bust-up following their penalty shootout defeat to Atletico Mineiro in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday night, having earlier had a goal ruled out for offside.
Police had to use tear gas, and multiple players were arrested.
You’d have to say that, in most circumstances, throwing punches, chucking bits of fencing and arming yourself with a fire extinguisher is not the most gracious way of accepting defeat, even if the VAR took around 10 minutes to come to a decision.
Funnily enough, although the Copa Libertadores has been mired in refereeing controversy, Boca’s disallowed goal does look offside. Marginal, but hardly evidence of an anti-Boca conspiracy.
— Callum Williams (@CalWilliamsComm) July 21, 2021
What did you do after ‘Magic Monday’, June 28, 2021, the greatest ever day of European Championship football?
We had just witnessed two stunning matches: Spain beating Croatia after 120 minutes and eight goals, and underdogs Switzerland overcoming France — many people’s tournament favourites — on penalties.
More than 250,000 boring French fans followed that high drama by signing a petition calling for France-Switzerland to be replayed.
Why? Because Yann Sommer, Switzerland’s heroic goalkeeper, was supposedly off his line (he was not) when saving Kylian Mbappe’s spot-kick.
“We request the cancellation of the qualification of Switzerland and therefore to replay the match,” the petition stated. “Sport must be played within the rules and that evening the rules were not respected.”
3. Jose Mourinho
Mourinho is a petty winner and a sore loser, and this summer he responded to his inevitable Spurs sacking with typical biliousness.
It seems his biggest gripe is how Tottenham denied him the chance to take charge of the League Cup final, which he thinks he could have won.
“If you want to be proactive you can ask me how many trophies I have won in my career — 25 and a half,” he told The Sun.
Boo! Get over it!
4. Harry Wilson
Look, we all enjoyed the Battle of the Bridge —partly because it helped Leicester’s fairytale title win, partly because it’s fun to see Chelsea and Spurs players kicking each other on live TV.
On that magical night, the frustration of a missed opportunity got the better of Tottenham, who resorted to violence as a way to mitigate their heartbreak. It wasn’t big or clever, but it was great viewing for neutrals.
Harry Wilson clearly doesn’t understand why the Battle of the Bridge was so good.
With Wales trailing 3-0 and heading out of the Euros in the Round of 16, the midfielder did his best Eric Dier impression, scything down loveable Joakim Maehle of loveable Denmark and getting himself sent off (for sheer spitefulness as much as anything else).
There’s going out fighting, and then there’s going out like a knobhead.
5. Gareth Bale
And then there’s going out like a ninja, just plain old slipping out of the frame without a word.
He was emotional. He was frustrated. He was otherwise fairly dignified. But Gareth Bale’s interview bail wasn’t the coolest way to bow out of Euro 2020.
6. Thomas Tuchel
Most people have recognised Youri Tielemans’ goal against Chelsea as one of the greatest ever seen in an FA Cup final.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers called it an “old school FA Cup-winning goal”, while Tielemans himself said it was the best strike of his career.
Thomas Tuchel was less arsed about it.
“In the second half we controlled the match even higher, and we conceded a goal out of nothing,” he said. “A fantastic goal, but a lucky goal of course.”
7. The English
There were infinite reasons to feel sad about the Euro 2020 final. Unfortunately, truth be told, there weren’t many reasons to feel indignant.
The best that disgruntled England fans could come up with was that Giorgio Chiellini deserved a red card for his cynical (and now iconic) shirt pull on Bukayo Saka. A few reasons were given as justification, including:
- You wouldn’t like it if someone grabbed you like that.
- It was violent.
- Chiellini is older than Saka.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly 150,000 England fans — fewer than the French, thank God — signed a petition to replay the final with a “non-biased referee”.
Bizarrely, the petition organiser has also started a fundraiser “to try and buy our own trophy for the England Team to show them how proud we are of them and how much we love them”.
£39.50 of its £500 goal, in case you were wondering.