Sunday, 21 November 2010
As a goalkeeper, I don't score that many goals. The odd penalty here and there, but that's it. And at no point when I have scored have I ever felt the need to remove my shirt to celebrate.
But some players clearly do like to do this. It has happened for a good few years - remember Ryan Giggs's celebration after his magnificent goal against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup Semi-Final Replay? - but has since then been outlawed. The punishment for pulling your shirt above your head (or covering your head with your shirt) is a caution. If you've already been cautioned - sorry mate, I know it's a bit daft, but you're off!
Commentators complain about it being a daft rule, but they generally also point out that anyone who is cautioned for celebrating like that also knows the rules beforehand, so the players only have themselves to blame.
So why is the rule in place anyway? Why was it OK to remove your shirt in celebration a few years back, but now is a cautionable offence?
After the 2003 Confederations Cup, where this kind of celebration became de rigueur, a decision was made by FIFA executives, then ratified by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), who sit every year and make adjustments to football's 17 laws, to ban the shirt removal celebration.
FIFA's decision is said to have been made to stop images of naked torsos being beamed around the world. An executive at the Professional Footballer's Association said that it has to do with certain cultures finding the sight of a naked male torso offensive. This reasoning has often been quoted as the cause of the new law.
Quite clearly, this decision has upset thousands of female fans (and, no doubt, quite a few male ones as well). However, given that Redwan Kalaji of Al-Ittihad removed his shirt in celebrating scoring the winning penalty at this month's AFC Cup Final in Kuwait, in full view of 60,000 fans, millions of TV viewers and various Asian and FIFA football dignitaries, it would seem unlikely that the reason for introducing this ban has anything to do with such religious sensibilities.
I will therefore leave you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions from the above as to why this rule is in place. But it's not there because of religion - that much is certain.