Why Diego Costa is the most disliked man in football
Published 09/03/2016 | 12:01
It's the one fact that seems to unite all football fans, regardless of club allegiances: everybody hates Diego Costa.
Since arriving in the Premier League, the Chelsea striker has had more theatrical feuds than a WWE wrestler.
His reputation as football's premier pantomime villain now, unfortunately, takes precedent over his undoubted qualities as one of Europe's most prolific finishers.
The 27-year-old (more on that later) has now become so universally disliked that opponents are even using their social media channels to wage a propaganda war against him.
Did you spot the hero? Ok, now it's time to find the fraud... https://t.co/pkKAUdV1pP— PSG English (@PSG_English) March 8, 2016
PSG's tweet, in which Diego Costa was portrayed as a masked impostor amongst a cast of superheroes, might have been 'just a bit of banter', but the effort taken to target the 27-year-old illustrates all-pervading antipathy towards the man.
So what is it about him that we all find so inherently unlikable?
His immunity from punishment
Diego Costa's main modus operandi in any fixture often seems to be to poke, scratch, kick and generally antagonise opposition players as much as the allotted time will allow.
Costa famously managed to squeeze in three rows with three separate Arsenal players earlier this season; including a skirmish with Gabriel Paulista from which the Arsenal defender emerged with visible scratch marks.
But despite countless examples of clear examples of misconduct, the Spanish international has never been sent off in the Premier League. And his last dismissal came in 2010.
Fans can live with a villain, but only if they're given the satisfaction of seeing him get his comeuppance.
Diego Costa's World Cup homecoming in 2014 was not the fanfare he may have liked.
The Brazilian-born striker's decision to play for Spain at international level was considered by his (former) compatriots to be an inexcusable affront to a proud footballing nation.
Pele even claimed the striker was setting a bad example to children across the world with his behaviour.
One Brazilian lawyer summed up the mood of a nation when he said: "He is the most hated person in Brazil today and we want him out as soon as possible.”
Diego Costa doesn't deal exclusively in the more entertaining brand of swashbuckling villainy, like a true loveable rogue would.
Head-butts and stamps aside, the forward has a history of employing some uniquely despicable tactics.
In a typically fiery Madrid derby in 2013, Diego Costa was filmed - twice - throwing his own spit at Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos.
The phlegmy exchange was just once example of Costa concentrating his abilities into endlessly winding up opposition players.
Falling over with little - if at all any - contact is, perhaps, the most heinous crime a footballer can commit in the eyes of the British public. And Diego Costa is a chief offender.
For a 6 foot 2 inch, 81kg man-child; Diego Costa does go down awfully easily.
Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood branded Costa a 'cheat' after his reaction to Per Mertesacker's challenge saw the German sent off.
Costa is by no means responsible for a new epidemic, but his antics are all the more hard to bear given his extreme aggression in every aspect of his football.
They say "never trust a man who lies about his age."
Eden Hazard expressed his suspicion about the Spanish international's true age when he told Soccer AM: "He is 25 but I don’t know if it is true."
There is no evidence - beyond that of our own eyes - that Costa's age is anything other than what he says it is. But the fact that people speculate about it so openly merely adds to the impression of Costa as a dastardly character.
His concealed identity
Diego Costa's new costume is only adding to the suspicion that Costa may have been biomechanically constructed in a lab somewhere; no human nose takes this long to heal.
Costa was fitted with a protective face mask in February after suffering a nose break.
But Diego Costa's Zorro mask has moved from being a medical necessity, to a fundamental part of his sinister personna.