Five of the most controversial shirt swaps in football - Balotelli isn't the only one

Following Mario Balotelli's half-time shirt swap we look at five other controversial swaps; Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal feature.

There is little that is more bizarre than watching two footballers swap shirts at half-time, it's a ritual throughout the history of the game has been carried out at the end of the match to signify mutual respect, and to get that treasured piece of memorabilia.

So when you look at what Mario Balotelli did last night you cannot argue with the amount of criticism he is receiving. To swap shirts at the interval when Liverpool were being thumped 3-0 is a gross misjudgement, and Balotelli looks like he'll get what he deserves in an in-house fine and the widespread public criticism.

Half-time shirt swapping is something that needs to be nipped in the bud, whether you're winning or losing, to return to your team's changing room with the opposing side's strip and half of the game still to be played, it shows a lack of respect.

Professionals should know better, especially considering how players have been lambasted in the past for such disgraceful actions.

Here are five other occasions when players have controversially swapped shirts:

1) Andre Santos and Robin Van Persie

Arsenal were playing away at Manchester United and it was the first time Robin Van Persie had faced his former club since signing for his new employers. After three minutes the Dutchman took advantage of a mistake from Thomas Vermaelen to give United an early lead. 

It was 1-0 at halftime and Arsenal full-back Andre Santos had been playing horribly, but that didn't stop him from chasing down the United goalscorer and nabbing his shirt while the pair walked down the tunnel. The Gunners ended up losing the match 2-1 and Santos was made to publicly apologise for his lack of professionalism.

2) Mamadou Sakho and Samuel Eto'o

Last season Liverpool were playing away at Stamford Bridge and The Reds went in front after three minutes thanks to a Martin Skrtel goal. Chelsea came back though with goals from Eden Hazard and Eto'o and Liverpool went into the break trailing 2-1.

With his side losing 2-1 at half-time French defender Sakho should have had his head on how they were going to get back into the match, but instead he decided to go to the Chelsea forward and swap shirts.

3) Coutinho and Oscar

To make matter significantly worse at the same time as Sakho was getting his piece of treasure, Coutinho was doing to same thing with Oscar.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was unaware that the duo had done the swap and only found out after journalists informed him after the game which finished 2-1. The pair were subsequently fined by the club.

4) Paulo Ferreira and Ronaldinho

It was in a Champions League knockout game in 2005 that Paulo Ferreira did the deed. Chelsea were at home to Catalan giants Barcelona and needed a convincing win to progress in the tournament after losing the first leg in Spain 2-1.

Chelsea started unbelievably well going 3-0 up within 20 minutes, but the Barcelona attack was relentless and Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho was able to pull two goals back before the break. It was 3-2 at half-time and Ferreira should have had head his mind on the second half but instead was desperate to get the shirt of the world's best player.

5) Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Manchester City

While the details of this one are a little unclear, according to Conor McNamara, Phil Neville revealed on BBC Radio 5Live last night that Van Nistelrooy controversially swapped shirts with a City player, much to the disapproval of Sir Alex Ferguson.

According to Neville the Scot told the free-scoring striker that is he did it again that he would be out of the club.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch