10 Of The Most Controversial Goal Celebrations In Football History

Goal celebrations in football can live long in the memory. Celebrating a goal should be a joyous and fun thing, but sometimes, footballers tend to make it controversial.

There are plenty of famous celebrations in football history; from knee-slides, fist-pumping to Roger Milla’s hip dancing at Italia 90 and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 180 degree “Siu” jump. Celebrations make football beautiful.

But, celebrations aren’t always fine as some players use them to promote political views, respond to criticism, or to even taunt opposition fans.

In the modern era, footballers are considered as role models for young people all over the world, and are expected to always exhibit acceptable behaviour.

Players often get fined, suspended and banned for making ill-conceived goal celebrations.

In this article, FootballOrbit brings you 10 of the most controversial goal celebrations in football history.

1. Robbie Fowler’s cocaine sniff

In 1999, Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler performed what is arguably the most controversial and notorious goal celebration ever.

After opening the scoring in a 3-2 victory over local rivals Everton in a Merseyside derby match, Fowler responded to unfounded reports of cocaine usage by dropping to his knees and pretending to snort cocaine on the white marking lines of the pitch.

However, Liverpool did not see the funny side of it, fining Fowler £60,000.

The FA also fined him £32,000 and banned him for four matches — which probably cost him the Premier League Golden Boot that season.

Robbie Fowler’s cocaine sniffing celebration has gone down as one of the most controversial moments in Premier League history.

2. Nicolas Anelka’s Nazi salute

In 2013, Nicolas Anelka celebrated a goal for West Brom by performing a ‘’quenelle’’ gesture — an inverted Nazi salute with strong anti-semitic significance.

The “quenelle’’ was popularised by Anelka’s comedian friend Dieudonne — who has been convicted for hate speech and advocating terrorism, and fined multiple times for antisemitism.

The French forward was handed an £80,000 fine and a five-match ban by the FA. He also got sacked by West Brom for gross misconduct.

3. Paul Gascoigne’s liquor celebration

In the build-up to Euro 1996, the media went berserk after reports emerged that the England squad had gone partying in a Hong Kong bar.

It revealed that teammates strapped Paul Gascoigne to a chair and poured alcohol down his throat.

Gascoigne recreated the moment following a brilliant goal against Scotland in the tournament group stages.

After scoring the goal, he lied on the floor as team-mates mimic pouring a drink into his mouth.

4. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri’s Kosovo tribute

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored for Switzerland in a crucial FIFA World Cup win over Serbia in 2018 but the duo’s celebrations made headlines as they paid tribute to their homeland, Kosovo.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but the Serbs did not recognise it and tensions between the two became high.

Shaqiri and Xhaka both celebrated with the ‘Albanian eagle’ and faced potential ban for celebrating with a political message – but they luckily escaped with just a fine.

5. Mick McCarthy’s “fuck off” to fans

Amid a lot of criticism from fans, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy celebrated in controversial fashion when his side took the lead in a derby match against Norwich.

McCarthy stormed out of his dugout and followed an aggressive fist pump with a brilliantly executed lengthy “f*ck off” aimed at his club’s fans.

6. Luis Suarez’s comic dive

Having been accused by Everton manager David Moyes of regularly diving in matches, Suarez only had one thing on his mind when he scored at Goodison Park.

He raced over to the dugouts, in front of a bewildered Moyes and threw himself to the floor — diving in dramatic fashion.

7. Graeme Souness and the Galatasaray flag

Graeme Souness gained legendary status from Galatasaray fans after planting a Galatasaray flag in the centre circle of the pitch of arch-rivals Fenerbahce.

The incident — which greatly angered Fenerbahce supporters — happened after Galatasaray defeated Fenerbahce in the Turkish Cup final in 1996.

The controversial act almost sparked a big riot among furious spectators after a tense derby, with Souness claiming he did so after Fenerbahce’s vice-President labelled him a “cripple” in the media following the Scot’s open-heart surgery.

8. Nicklas Bendtner’s pants celebration

Arsenal and Denmark striker, Nicklas Bendtner celebrated after scoring against Portugal at Euro 2012 by displaying his pants to reveal the name of bookmaker, Paddy Power.

FIFA and UEFA rules dictate players must not display sponsors’ logos during matches and Bendtner got banned for one match and fined a whopping £80,000.

9. Mark Bosnich impersonates Adolf Hitler

In a match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in 1996, Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich celebrated by making an Adolf Hitler impersonation to fans of Tottenham (a club with a large Jewish following).

His action was met with widespread disgust and criticism and ended with him getting a £1,000 fine from the FA.

Later in his career, Bosnich got sacked by Chelsea for testing positive to cocaine use.

10. Emmanuel Adebayor vs Arsenal


In 2009, Emmanuel Adebayor joined Manchester City from Arsenal in a deal worth £25m.

In a match between City versus Arsenal, he scored as his new team earned a 4-2 victory.

But his celebration was one of the most controversial in Premier League history as Adebayor bizarrely ran the whole length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans in the away end.

It sparked angry reactions from the Gunners who got irked by his antics.

Before his goal, the striker had been subjected to personal abuses throughout the game.

Speaking years later on the controversial celebration, Adebayor said: “Being abused, we got our limit…When I was running emotions took over and all that’s in my head is ‘yes, today I’m free’.

“It was a moment I will never forget in my life.”

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