Football's naughty 😈 and nice 😇 list this Christmas 🎅 | OneFootball

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Chloe Beresford·24 December 2022

Football's naughty 😈 and nice 😇 list this Christmas 🎅

Article image:Football's naughty 😈 and nice 😇 list this Christmas 🎅

“He’s making a list, and checking it twice; He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. Santa Claus is comin’ to town.”

At this most wonderful time of the year, who from the world of football will be gifted just what they’ve always wanted, and who will end up with a lump of coal?

Here’s football’s naughty and nice list for 2022.

Naughty 😈

Cristiano Ronaldo

Article image:Football's naughty 😈 and nice 😇 list this Christmas 🎅

After Cristiano Ronaldo refused to go on as a substitute for Manchester United during their 2-0 win over Tottenham in October, the relationship between one of football’s biggest global stars and his club was already on rocky ground. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he conducted an unauthorised television interview with Piers Morgan, slating his employers in multiple different ways.

After his contract with Man Utd was inevitably terminated, Ronaldo headed to the World Cup as a free agent.

Time for a fresh start?

Well not really. Ronaldo once again didn’t take kindly to being subbed out during Portugal’s final group stage game with South Korea and boss Fernando Santos wasn’t happy.

“I didn’t like it, not at all. I really didn’t like it,” said the Portugal boss at a press conference.

Santos got his own back though, when he dropped Ronaldo for 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos for the next match, and the youngster responded with a hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of Switzerland in the knockout stage.

Nice 😇

Joshua Cavallo

After coming out as gay in late 2021, Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo has spent most of 2022 telling his story and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in sport and beyond.

“It comes with huge responsibility. I’m definitely there for it and I’m embracing it,” Cavallo told OneFootball as part of an exclusive interview.

“When I hear that I’ve had an impact on people’s lives and I’ve helped them in their lives for the better, it definitely helps.”

His actions put him firmly on the nice list this Christmas.

Naughty 😈

Kenny Shiels

When Northern Ireland’s women lost 5-0 to England back in April, apparently the result wasn’t due to the fact that England were good enough to soon become European Champions, but another reason altogether.

“In the women’s game, you’ll have noticed if you go through the patterns, when a team concedes a goal they concede a second one within a very short period of time,” said Shiels.

“Right through the whole spectrum of the women’s game, because girls and women are more emotional than men, so they take a goal going in not very well.”


Shiels later apologised for his comments, insisting that he is one of the biggest advocates for the women’s game, but another advocate for women’s football – Ian Wright – had made his own point about the Northern Ireland boss’ words.

Nice 😇

Andriy Yarmolenko

It was a goal in a mid-table clash between West Ham and Aston Villa.

But when Andriy Yarmolenko netted for the Hammers back in March, it sparked an outpouring of emotion from the Ukrainian, who was coming to terms with his country being invaded by Russia.

“I was just thinking about my family and my people,” said the forward after the match.

Some thing are, simply, bigger than football.

Naughty 😈

Gianni Infantino

Article image:Football's naughty 😈 and nice 😇 list this Christmas 🎅

“Today I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel a migrant worker,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino on the eve of the World Cup in what was perhaps the most tone deaf speech imaginable.

An investigation run by the Guardian in 2021 ultimately claimed there had been 6,500 deaths of migrant workers as the World Cup infrastructure was hastily constructed.

Did Infantino really compare that to when he was bullied for having red hair and freckles? Really, Gianni?

Nice 😇

Roy Keane

Here is someone more traditionally accustomed to the naughty list, but Santa is always ready to forgive those who can turn over a new leaf.

Roy Keane used his platform as a TV pundit to highlight some of the issues raised by the Qatar World Cup, standing up for the human rights of others.

Underneath that steely gaze, there’s a heart of gold.

Just don’t tell him we said that.

Naughty 😈

Thomas Tuchel/Antonio Conte

Article image:Football's naughty 😈 and nice 😇 list this Christmas 🎅

It seems like a long time ago when Thomas Tuchel was in charge at Chelsea, but there’s one incident that puts him and Antonio Conte firmly on the naughty list this year.

When shaking hands after a fiery 2-2 draw back in August, it appeared that Tuchel held his grip on Conte’s hand for just a bit too long.

Of course, Conte isn’t known for his even temper, and he exploded in a fit of rage that launched a thousand memes.

“Mr Conte took my hand but did not look at me and I considered his demeanour to be a sign of disrespect towards me,” Tuchel wrote in a letter of explanation to the FA.

“I therefore held on to his hand as he walked past me and told him to look me in the eyes when he shakes my hand.”

It gave us all a good laugh, anyway.

Nice 😇


It wasn’t long after the champagne had worn off from the England women’s team’s Euro 2022 victory before they began using their elevated platform to campaign for young girls to be allowed to play football in schools.

In an open letter to the UK Prime Minister, they lobbied to ensure that all girls have access to a minimum of two hours per week of PE and access to playing football if they want to.

The Lionesses roar on and off the pitch.

Naughty 😈


As women’s football made the headlines for plenty of the right reasons in 2022, there was one huge sour note to come out of the USA as it emerged that systemic verbal, emotional and even sexual abuse had occurred across the NWSL.

The NWSL itself was found to have failed to protect its own players, having neglected their duty to act on player reports and evidence of abuse, while the perpetrators were allowed to move to various different teams across the league.

It is time to do much, much better.

Nice 😇

Danny Ings

When people say that representation matters, it only takes one look at this picture to understand why.

The noise of walking out into a full stadium may be too much for some young people with autism, and in the past this may have been a barrier to enjoying a day as a mascot.

Yet Riley Regan wore ear defenders to shield him from the roar of the crowd, and so Aston Villa captain Danny Ings did the same so that the young mascot didn’t feel singled out.

More of this in football, please.