OPINION: Celebration ban makes football even worse to watch

If you cast your minds back to the first Lockdown, you might remember that Health Minister Matt Hancock called on professional footballers to “play their part”, un-necessarily calling out and putting pressure on them.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 11:40 am
Contact goal celebrations are now banned as part of measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Well, here we are in another Lockdown almost a year later and this time Westminster don’t want footballers to get their wallets out – For the record, Premier League footballers created the #PlayersTogether campaign which raised £4 million on launch- they want them to stop celebrating together during the game.

Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, said: “Everyone in country has had to change the way they interact with people… Footballers are no exception” whilst Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, described players celebrating as “brainless.”

Now, there is no denying that COVID-19 is a horrible disease which does not discriminate and can have devastating consequences. Of course it is important that clubs and players do all they can to protect each other and stop the spread of the disease. There has been an alarming rise of cases amongst clubs which has led to more and more fixtures being called off.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, if players celebrating is so dangerous, and can lead so easily to spreading the disease then why are we even playing football at all? And I say that as someone who loves the game.

Strict protocol is in place at clubs to keep players safe whilst players and staff all form what are supposed to be secure bubbles.

Surely players from the same bubble, who have tested negative for COVID before the game, celebrating together isn’t a huge risk?

If so, what about when they’re tackling the opposing team? Or challenging for a header? Or marking at a corner?

With no fans in at grounds, the game we love is already lacking so much of the emotion which makes it so special.

Add in delays for VAR checks, and goals are no longer the euphoric outpouring of emotion they once were anyway. Stopping players celebrating, turning them into emotionless robots, is just going to make things worse.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​