Whether it’s front of thousands, millions or even no one, scoring a goal, for any team at any moment, is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s a feeling that should be easy to explain, but isn’t. Nothing beats the sound of the ball hitting the back of the net. Anyone who plays the game will tell you, even those playing five-a-side, when a goal is scored a certain emotion is shown. It could be a smile, a clinched-fish, the lack of a celebration or perhaps a wild celebration – it’s a display of feelings. Emotions. It’s a moment that comes naturally to any human being that loves the game. You score, you show an emotion. It’s the human factor that's present in the game and has been ever since Football was created, so why on earth do referees decide that some players should be booked or punished for celebrating?
There is one particular celebration that comes to mind that referees deem as a bookable offence, but I will never truly understand why - when a player scores a goal, and takes off his shirt, whether it’s fully or whether it’s with a message underneath the kit - he gets a yellow card. Sometimes, a second yellow card if he’s already been booked! Please, can someone explain to me how a player taking off his shirt is an offence? I’ve found this article (click here - September 2003) which supposedly explains the reasons why FIFA instated this rule that players get booked for taking off their shirts.
Let’s look at the potential reasons why a referee could book a player for this joke of an offence.
1 - For time-wasting: wait, doesn’t the referee control the time when a goal is scored? Isn’t he the one who decides how much time is added at the end of every half? So, the time factor shouldn’t even be a question. The ref controls the time, he can add as much as he feels is necessary if a player has wasted time celebrating. End of.
2 - For displaying advertisements underneath: Seriously? In a sport where advertising is present at every corner of our views, on a screen or on a pitch, what difference is one more advert going to make in our lives? Maybe it’s about the money-related issues that could follow. But even then, since when have sponsorship issues warranted a booking? Advertisement-related problems have got absolutely nothing to do with celebrating a goal. You want to punish a player for displaying an advert, deal with it off the pitch, not on it. If FIFA considers this as an offence, they've got to get their priorities straightened out.
3 - For displaying a political, religious or other messages: So bloody what? Who cares if Kaka “belongs to God”? If that’s his way of expressing joy when he’s scored a goal, so let it be. Football is played by people of all religions and backgrounds, and if they decide to show their beliefs publicly, it shouldn't be a problem. I bet until now not many people understand some of the messages that some players have put underneath their kits. They’re mainly private messages and inside jokes at times. I recall Thierry Henry scoring once and having the message “for the West Indies” on his shirt. What difference does that message make to anyone’s life? He’s sending out a message to his friends and origins. Big deal. I’ve even heard some saying that there is a fear that the messages the players display could potentially cause a riot or offend some fans – believe me, if a message underneath a footballer's shirt was what caused a riot, it’s not the shirt underneath that needs to be checked. I won’t even get into the double standards of this rule. A couple of weeks ago when Robin van Persie scored vs Manchester United in Arsenal’s 2-1 loss at the Emirates Stadium, Van Persie partially took off his top to display a message in Dutch (something about a birthday I think?). He wasn’t booked for this incident, apparently because the shirt wasn’t fully taken off (not to mention he got a booking a few minutes later so could have been sent off). Ha! Give me a break. I didn’t know there were degrees to how much a shirt could be taken off or not to be considered a punishable offence. It’s not like we’re showing live boob action on television.
4 - For public viewing discretion: If taking off a shirt is considered offensive for viewing, then why on earth don’t all the players get punished when they take off their tops after the final whistle has gone with the cameras fully focused on their six-packs? Apparently, some consider the topless actions to be offensive to some cultures. Yes, I’m sure whenever Cristiano Ronaldo is walking around without a top after a game there are some people in far corners of the world raging and wanting to file a formal complaint to FIFA. What a joke.
Booking a player, and sometimes even sending him off, for taking his shirt off is a ridiculous rule. It’s in the FIFA guidelines, we all know that, but it shouldn’t be. Why should a celebration dictate the outcome of a game by potentially getting a man sent off? Football is about emotions, passion, celebrations and displaying all the feelings that we have little or no control over. Taking your shirt off on a pitch is a display of joy. It doesn’t cause offence anywhere and if it did, then there are loads of other times when players are topless during a game and aren’t punished for it. So it makes no sense. It’s not like the player is taking his pants off. It’s his top! His jersey! Plus, who wouldn’t want to see more of this sort of thing happening in Football? You just know it makes it more fun! (click here)
Another topic of discussion to end this post. Celebrating with the crowds. To compliment what I just said above, it’s also a ridiculous rule. These guys here say it better than I can. Worth a watch: