Each and every sport is a game of fine margins, often being the difference between success and failure. It also means some of its biggest stars have the opportunity to blame anyone and anything rather than take responsibility for their own blatant incompetence. Here are some of our standouts from over the years.
“I lost balance… I hit my face against the player.”
Being a world-class footballer doesn’t excuse you from trying to take a chunk out of someone. Just as well, otherwise Luis Suarez might’ve thought he’d get away with this pathetic explanation for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup: “I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent. At that moment I hit my face against the player, leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.” The Uruguayan was left to swallow a four month ban instead.
Tungsten titan Mervyn King blamed his defeat to Raymond Van Barneveld in the 2003 Word Darts Championship on the arena’s excessive air conditioning. “I asked for it to be turned off before I went up there and it wasn’t. I asked for it to be turned off at the break, it wasn’t. The air conditioning doesn’t affect Raymond because he throws a heavier dart and a very flat dart.” Organisers maintained the air conditioning was in fact off for the duration of the match.
Sabotaged by the masseuse
Having already failed a drugs test in 2001, sprinter Justin Gatlin was caught out again in 2006 after a positive test for testosterone. He protested his innocence, saying: “I have never knowingly used any banned substance or authorized anyone to administer such a substance to me.” Instead, the disgraced sprinter and his coach accused a massage therapist of rubbing a cream with testosterone onto Gatlin’s bottom without their knowledge. Amazingly, the authorities didn’t buy it.
The ghost of Lord Nelson
Blackpool’s reason for throwing away a two goal lead in a playoff match against Bradford City in 1996? The team’s boardroom was being haunted by the ghost of Lord Nelson. Allegedly, the Admiral’s ghost felt compelled to travel up to the ‘Las Vegas of the North’ to make his displeasure known that the club’s boardroom had oak panelling from his ship HMS Foudroyant, which foundered on Blackpool Sands.
After losing to Pakistan in a 2001 ODI, the Sri Lankan team decided to take a long hard look in the mirror and hold their kit responsible rather than themselves. Complaining their clothing was a little too snug, batsman Sanath Jayasuriya commented: “We had to add extensions to the trousers and the shirts looked more like tight-fitting women’s blouses.”
A gypsy cure
Birmingham City were said to be laboured with this curse in 1906 after travellers were removed from the site where St Andrew’s stadium was being built. It led manager Barry Fry identifying it for his side’s poor form in the 90s, causing him to urinate in all four corners of the pitch to try and lift the hoodoo. “We went three months without winning. We were desperate, so I pissed in all four corners. Did it work? Well, we started to win and I thought it had, then they f*****g sacked me, so probably not.” Happily for blues fans, the curse was said to be lifted in 2016 by an upholsterer who recovered the stadium’s seats.
‘Supernatural’ and ‘sporting excuses’ seem to go together like ‘Titus Bramble’ and ‘costly error’. In this case, the New York Knicks claimed their 2010 defeat to Oklahoma City Thunder was due to a haunted hotel. Even seven-foot tall centre Eddy Curry said he slept for only two hours because he couldn’t stop thinking about ghosts drifting around their accommodation.
“I didn’t feel my inner peace”
You’d think taking some time to acclimatise to your surroundings would be sensible ahead of one of the biggest competitions in your career. Not so for figure skater Johnny Weir who finished outside of the medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. His reason: “I never felt comfortable in this building. I didn’t feel my inner peace. I didn’t feel my aura.” Missing the bus and arriving late probably didn’t help either.
Scoring too many goals
3-0 up against Manchester United, only to go on and lose 5-3. Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle must’ve had a very good excuse. He didn’t and instead made about as much sense as a drunk Scouser in an Eton College Latin class: “On reflection on this game it was probably an awkward time for us to score the third. If we’d have come in two up it would’ve had a different complexion.”
“My jockstrap was too tight”
Zambian tennis player Lighton Ndefwayl lost to compatriot Musumba Bwayla and was about as magnanimous in defeat as a hippo doing the tango is graceful – not very. Ndefwayl stated in no uncertain terms: “Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves he farts and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia.”
What awful sport excuses have you heard? Let us know below.