One of the most enduring yet downright ludicrous rules in the world of professional football is the ruling that players who celebrate by taking their shirts off are penalised. Many have called for the rule to be overturned in the past, but now a former Premier League referee has also called for the FA to change it.
This news comes after Southampton’s Dusan Tadic was booked for celebrating with his shirt off after scoring his team’s winning goal against Manchester United over the weekend, with Saints boss Ronald Koema saying that his player was “stupid” for doing so, but also that the rule itself is “silly”.
Writing for his column in the Bolton News, famous former Premier League referee Mark Halsey said: “Cristiano is a player who isn’t shy about taking off his shirt and I’m sure he has picked up a few needless cautions down the years. But isn’t it time we abolished this silly law and just admit that it is done in the name of entertainment?
“If a player whips off his shirt and there is a political message underneath then fine, punish him retrospectively if you have to. But if it is done in the heat of battle, showing the passion we have in our game, I think we should let it slide.
“Referees don’t want to enforce that law, they are made to.”
There has been much discussion about the enforcement of the rule before, with Ronaldo’s shirtless celebration after scoring in Real Madrid’s Champions League final match again Atletico Madrid seeing the star being branded a yellow, as was Mario Balotelli for his infamous ‘Hulk’ celebration. So famous was this celebration, in fact, that it was even replicated in the FIFA video games series – albeit with the players’ shirts kept on.