Back in High school at the state high school football competition, my school lost her first game 3-0 but a few hours after the match it was announced that the opponent cheated by fielding mercenaries, we got the 3 points and needed just a win to qualify. In training, we practised ways to beat the next opponent and most importantly how to celebrate.
Image from goal
We practised how to celebrate when we score, the goal scorer will look for whoever gives the assist and together they will lead a dance while others dance along. The 2nd match was a tough one, we were on the back foot most of the game but it was goalless. In the last minute I received the ball in the middle and dribbled past a few legs, I was confused and tired but saw a teammate ahead, I passed to him and he lobbed the keeper, the crowd shouted and our ladies entered the field celebrating, I turned back, run to the bench shouting, jumping and crying. It was a great feeling, something I’d never felt before.
I look around for the goal scorer but he was sandwiched between various supporters with his shirts off, at that moment we forgot the celebration we had planned.
I’m sure professional footballers feel this way sometimes too. Some have a celebration planned before the match but the way they scored or the time they scored and the joy that comes with it makes them forget the celebration. Some are cool-headed and no matter the situation in which they score they will go ahead with the celebration they planned. Some players don't have the celebration planned but just get the idea on the spot.
Image from goal
We’ve had some iconic celebrations in recent years. Some players off their shirts or raise their shirts to reveal in-prints on their underclothes. Balotelli’s famous “Why always me?” is still popular till today Messi’s raised shirt in the el Classico is still replicated by other players till today, Sancho’s black lives matter celebration, Iniesta’s message after scoring the winning goal at the final is celebrated by all Spaniard till today. I must not fail to mention what is fast becoming a worldwide celebration- Ronaldo’s leap and shout of “Siuuuu”. This celebration is imitated by sportsmen and women and not just footballers.
However, the culture of celebrating goals by removing the shirt is something that comes with a punishment. A yellow card is the least one can receive, if a player goes ahead to reveal in-prints that has political implication it can lead to further punishment. Racism is another issue that has risen from players removing their shirts in celebration and in countries like Spain were “respecting the opponent” is taken as of utmost importance one would expect things to be different.
Before going further, I need to talk about Carles Puyol, Barcelona’s great captain in the days of Guardiola. Till today he is respected and regarded as one of the greatest Spanish defenders and most important leader of all time. There are various clips online showing how Puyol stop his teammates from celebrating (dancing) after scoring, especially when the scoreline is humiliating, he once collected a lighter, thrown at Pique by a Madrid fan in an el Classico, preventing the latter from giving it to the referee which will implicate the Madrid fans. He stopped Ronaldinho from fighting a Player that hit him (Puyol) and many more.
Pique on his own part also wasn’t impressed with Neymar’s showboating at Barca when they are leading the opponent by a large margin. He sees it as disrespect. However, so great players are celebrated till today for their skills and tendency to humiliate the opponent…
To be continued…
Tomorrow, I will talk about recent issues with celebrations, especially with the effect of VAR. I will talk about Milik’s red card after scoring and having his goal cancelled after the VAR check, Richalison’s goal which was cancelled but received a yellow card and Vini’s dance, the racists attacks and support all over the world.
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