16 Examples Of Bad Sportsmanship In Soccer

Bad sportsmanship is nasty and common in every sport and it can be seen in soccer. Today I am going to help you identify 16 examples of bad sportsmanship in soccer

I have to be honest here that I do have my moments of bad sportsmanship during my playing days.

It is not something I am proud of but I took the challenge to improve my sportsmanship.

However, I am a victim as well.

I highly recommend you teach your kids sportsmanship so that they become better sportspeople from a young age.

Bad sportsmanship can be a symptom of underlying issues with the kid and must be diagnosed by medical professionals.

1. Sore loser

I think we all know this one.

A sore loser is a player who cannot accept the fact that his or her team just lost to another team.

He or she gets angry and started blaming everyone for the team’s loss.

Some, do not want to play soccer again.

For young kids this is understandable and parents can talk to them about losing.

2. Arguing with the referee and other players

Referee making a call
Photo by Nathan Shively on Unsplash

This player always thinks that he or she knows more about soccer rules than the referee or other players.

He or she would protest openly every time the ref makes a decision against his or her team.

This can delay the game and everyone is getting annoyed with this behavior.

Some players can even punch the referee.

3. Throwing the ball at another player

Out of frustration, some players may pick up the ball and throw it to another person or the ref with the intention to harm them.

Others struck the ball hard so that it hits another player or the supporters.

This action can cause injury if the victim does not see it coming.

4. Intentionally committing fouls

Boy injured in soccer
Photo by Bil Kleb

There are 2 scenarios I can think of.

First, the player was outplayed and there is nothing he or she can do to stop the opponent and the only option is to grab, push, pull, or kick the player.

This is done to stop the opponent from advancing or to score a goal.

The second one is that the player has malicious intent to cause injury and intimidate other players.

Sadly, some coaches do encourage this kind of tactic.

5. Racist

Sadly racism is still a problem in sports, and soccer is not an exception.

Racism is usually targeted toward a person of another race by calling him or her derogatory names and using bullying tactics.

The aim is to hurt the player both physically and mentally to make him or her ineffective during the game.

FIFA, the world governing football body bans all forms of racism in soccer.


6. Ignoring the referee’s call

Some players don’t stop playing even when the ref blows the whistle to do so.

Instead, they continue to run with the ball or kick it out of the field in protest.

7. Refusing to accept an apology

School photo created by Racool_studio – www.freepik.com

In soccer, everyone gets fouled at least once especially when it gets competitive.

In the spirit of sportsmanship, the victim should accept a genuine apology from the player who fouled him or her.

Refusing it can be a sign that you are starting to lose your cool.

8. Refusing to apologize for fouling another player

Fouling another player is bad although it can be unintentional.

But refusing to apologize for that bad tackle shows that you are not sorry for your actions.

You are telling everyone that you don’t care.

9. Bullying other players

Bullying in soccer can be in the form of physical and psychological.

The victims are not necessarily the players on the opposing team but teammates as well.

Here are some examples;

  • Refusing to interact with a particular player during training or games
  • Teasing and shaming another player
  • Pushing and shoving without any reason
  • Refusing to pass the ball to the victim

10. Refusing to shake hands before and after the game

Boy shaking the hands of a teammate
Kids photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Shaking hands is a sign of friendship and respect to the opponent but if a player refuses then it can be seen as rude.

11. Refusing to come off the field for sub

Boy refused chance to play
Image by PipeVasquez Vasquez from Pixabay

Some players will refuse to be substituted to allow another teammate to play.

This is a selfish act because the does not respect his or her teammates.

12. Not a team player

coach giving instructions
Image by genielutz from Pixabay

Some players ignore the fact that they need to play with teammates in order for the team to win.

This is evident when they do not pass the ball to another teammate or play according to the team plan.

This is a selfish attitude that will cost the team dearly.

13. Swearing at other players and the ref

Swearing at other players, the supporters, and the referee is a red card offense.

This can be a result of the player getting frustrated and losing his or her temper.

14. Excessive goal celebration

boys celebrating goal - Examples Of Bad Sportsmanship
Photo by Julius Volz

Excessive goal celebration includes screaming and gesturing at the players and supporters of the losing team with the intention to humiliate or anger them.

This can be from an individual player or the whole team.

Celebrating excessively is an offense in soccer and a player can yellow or red card for it.

15. Diving

Diving is when a player pretended to be fouled by another player by falling on the ground and writhing in agony.

This can be done anywhere in the field but especially in front of the goal hoping that he or she is awarded a penalty kick.

Similarly, feigning injury is also bad sportsmanship.

It is also called cheating.

16. Not stopping the game to allow medical attention to an injured player

There is an unwritten rule that when an injured player is laying on the field whoever has the ball will kick it outside so that the game is paused.

This is to allow medics to attend to the injured player.

If the player with the ball continues to play he will deny medical attention to the injured player.


Bad sportsmanship is simply bad behavior that shows disrespect to others.

If it can be displayed in a soccer game by a child there is a high chance that these same behaviors can be shown at school and at home.

Soccer provides opportunities for kids to develop discipline, respect, teamwork, and staying positive.

Ultimately, we want our kids to grow to become well-disciplined adults, don’t we?

Enjoy soccer and be safe.

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