Analysis: a rogue's gallery of temper tantrums, hissy fits, freak outs, screaming matches, throwing incidents and physical rows in sport

Sport involves managing the physical manifestation of emotions such as rage, aggression and frustration. When these emotions transpire into temper tantrums, hissy fits, freak outs, screaming matches, throwing incidents and physical altercations, they make for mildly entertaining, yet awkward and often worrying viewing. Here are nine times when our favourite sports stars lost their cool

(1) The headbutt heard around the world

When Italy played France in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, the game would go down in history for featuring one of the most shocking moments in sport when French legend Zinedine Zidane, in the last game of his career, headbutted Italy's Marco Materazzi in extra time, an action which saw the French captain correctly dismissed. Italy went on to win the World Cup on penalties and while Zidane admits he regrets his actions, he stated in 2010 that he "would rather die" than apologise to Materazzi for committing the headbutt heard around the world

From Onefootball Docs, the story of Zidane and Materazzi and one mad moment that will forever be in World Cup final history

(2) When Davy met Jason

Physical outbursts of anger are not confined between players but have also occurred between managers and players. During a 2017 Allianz Hurling League game, Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald came onto the field of play after a number of contentious refereeing decisions. The irate Fitzgerald was confronted by a number of opposition players, and remonstrated with Tipperary’s Jason Forde, which saw bans for both parties. 

From RTÉ 2fm's Game On, Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald discusses his 2018 book At All Costs

(3)  A bad day for Woody

In the 1978 Gator Bowl, Ohio State played Clemson in what was the final game in a 28-year career of revered Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. But his reputation was tarnished beyond repair after the coach punched a Clemson player. In the dying minutes of the game, defensive lineman Charlie Bauman intercepted an Ohio State pass, virtually sealing the win for Clemson. Bauman began celebrating and Hayes, in no mood for the opposition’s showboating gestures, grabbed Bauman by the jersey and threw an ill-advised punch which landed on his collarbone. The incident led to Hayes’ immediate dismissal and he would never coach again. 

(4) 'Ear 'ear

When Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield met at the MGM Grand for a heavyweight title fight in June 1997, Tyson bit off more than he could chew. In a disgraceful and shocking incident that left the world watching in disbelief, Tyson bit a chunk out of Holyfield's right ear in a bout of uncontrollable frustration. Holyfield instantly recoiled and jumped up in pain while Tyson spat a piece of his opponent's ear to the canvas. Tyson was disqualified at the end of the third round and Holyfield was crowned champion. 

(5) Snacktime for Luis 

Tyson’s nibbling ways have been replicated on the soccer pitch by Argentinian striker Luis Suárez. In 2010, then then Ajax player was suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal on the shoulder. In 2013, Suarez was suspended for 10 games after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic on the arm while playing for Liverpool. A year later at the World Cup, Suarez sunk his teeth into more members of his opposition. Ultimately, he was again suspended for nine games and sent home from soccer’s biggest tournament. 

From RTÉ Sport, Michael O'Neill, Richie Sadlier and Eamon Dunphy on the punishment handed out to Luis Suarez

(6) Seagulls and sardines

In 1995, Manchester United legend Eric Cantona launched a kung-fu kick that stunned the world of soccer. During a Premier League game against Crystal Palace, the Frenchman received a red card and, as he made his way towards the tunnel, a fan shouted profanities at the player. In a moment of utter rage, Cantona charged the fan and launched a flying kick at him 

From RTÉ Radio 1's Arena, Siobhán Kane looks at the career of footballer-turned-artist Eric Cantona

In the wake of the attack, speculation was rife that the English FA would ban Cantona for life. Instead, he was suspended for the remainder of the season, fined £20,000 by Manchester United, a further £10,000 by the English FA and sentenced to 120 hours of community service. The moment was entirely without precedent and is still regarded as one of the most shocking outbursts in sport 25 years later.

(7) Rodman's extreme close-up

In 1997, the Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman was at the centre of controversy during a basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After going for a rebound, Rodman ended up on the ground on the baseline. When a nearby cameraman turned his camera to Rodman, the player delivered a hard kick to the cameraman's groin. Rodman was suspended for 11 games, fined $25,000 by the league and settled out of court with the injured cameraman for $200,000.

(8) "You cannot be serious!"

In a 1981 Wimbledon first round match against Tom Gullickson, John McEnroe unleashed the most famous four-word catchphrase in the civilized world of tennis: "you cannot be serious!". Furious at the umpire's refusal to rule his serve in, the temperamental McEnroe uttered the immortal line and continued an aggressive rant at the Wimbledon officials. McEnroe’s outburst had little effect on his performance as he went on to win the match and the tournament, the first of his career. The outraged Wimbledon officials were notably annoyed with McEnroe’s behaviour and broke with tradition by not making the new singles champion an honorary member of the All England Club. McEnroe boycotted the Champions’ Dinner in response. It was an episode that would follow McEnroe throughout his career, so much so that he titled his autobiography with its key phrase.

From RTÉ Archives, Anything Goes presenter Mary Fitzgerald interviewsJohn McEnroe in 1983

(9) A bit of a racket

Tantrums do not always have to involve officials, fans or other players, as demonstrated by Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny at the 2008 Sony Ericsson Tennis Open. Disgruntled with his performance, he released his pent-up aggression by repeatedly hitting his head with the metal frame of his tennis racket. After several violent slams of the racket, blood trickled out of a noticeable gash in his head. Following medical attention, Youzhny went onto win the match. 

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ