The Subject of the last episode of Sky Sports’ The Footballers Football Show is a question which splits opinion. My opinion? Let’s scrap it.
Jamie Redknapp recently wrote an article on how the pre-match handshake is “embarrassing”, and how it should be scraped. Richard Scudamore introduced the ritual in 2004, with the intended message being that no matter what has happened prior and post-game, the next 90 minutes were all about football. But has the message been translated correctly? Clearly not.
There have now been 3 separate incidents that have occurred which have thrown the spotlight onto the process. The first involved a game between Chelsea and Manchester City in February 2010. The media spotlight had been cast onto this moment in wake of the recent accusations of Terry having an affair with Bridge’s wife. Terry held out his hand, Bridge ignored it and moved onto the next Chelsea player.
Next involved the first of two major race rows which faced the Premier League in October 2011. Luis Suarez of Liverpool admitted using a word which in his homeland was not deemed offensive, but in England and to Patrice Evra of Manchester United, was exactly the opposite. On December 20th, Suarez was handed an eight-match ban after a complicated hearing, to which Suarez still defends his innocence. On February 11th, Manchester United hosted Liverpool in the first game between the two clubs after the incident. Once again and even more so, the World tuned in to see the handshake that never was. It appeared that Evra held out his hand, which Suarez ignored, which promoted an ill fated game in which Suarez actually scored, though losing 2-1. At the final whistle, Evra celebrated in front of Suarez, which caused further disruptions.
Finally, after the second race row involving Chelsea’s John Terry and his alleged racial abuse towards QPRs Anton Ferdinand in October 2011, the Premier League issued a statement deeming that after discussions with QPR and Chelsea, the pre match handshake was cancelled. Why? Why is there one rule for one, and one for another?
In my personal opinion, the ritual should be scraped. In the Manchester United vs Liverpool game, the handshake affected what happened during the game, which goes against the original intention of Scudamore’s decision. Football is traditionally a gentlemen’s game, though some would argue not so much anymore. At the final whistle, the players should voluntarily shake hands with each other. It is a universal sign of sportsmanship, and is how it should be. If a player refuses to shake another’s hand after the game, that is at their peril. They would lose a lot of respect and dignity, and I’m sure the media will capture an image of this anyway. On Saturday 15th September 2012, QPR will host Chelsea and for the first time since the allegation, the pre match handshake is set to go ahead. What will unfold is unpredictable and will be under much scrutiny from the media, but is certainly an unnecessary distraction. To force players to line up and be in a position where the World is waiting on a handshake is ridiculous. What are your thoughts?
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