Once again yesterday a Celtic player was booked for celebrating a goal – twice in two games and the only players in the SPL booked for celebrating a goal this season. So in 17 games, with 50 goals, the two Celtic games have been the only occasions when players infringed the rules for goal celebrations?
The rules on goal celebrations in Scottish football are set out below;
Celebration of a goal
While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been scored, the celebration must not be excessive.
Reasonable celebrations are allowed, but the practice of choreographed celebrations is not to be encouraged when it results in excessive time-wasting and referees are instructed to intervene in such cases.
A player must be cautioned if:
- in the opinion of the referee, he makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory
- he climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal being scored
- he removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt
- he covers his head or face with a mask or other similar item
Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offence in itself but it is essential that players return to the field of play as soon as possible.
Referees are expected to act in a preventative manner and to exercise common sense in dealing with the celebration of a goal.
But these aren’t the only rules. It seems that referees have an alternative directive on top of these from Police Scotland. According to Daryl Broadfoot of the SFA, there is a “directive from Police Scotland to mitigate safety issues caused by crowd surges.”
Apart from the 5th goal in an easy rout at Celtic Park, virtually every goal scored in competitive football creates fan movements and surges, not just in Scotland. It seems however that our Police are uniquely incapable of policing this.
The natural position of any Celtic fan would be to assume that this unwritten and previously unpublished directive only applied to our club. I would suggest however that the Police may be determining any situation where there is a smaller stand filled close to capacity, which would explain why Miller wasn’t booked at Ibrox yesterday. Whatever the specifics, the outline of this would imply that it is those footballers who play for clubs with a larger away support who are most at risk of a booking.
IN OTHER WORDS AN ATTACKER PLAYING FOR A CLUB WITH A LARGE AWAY SUPPORT WILL GET BOOKED MORE OFTEN THAN A CLUB WITH A SMALLER AWAY SUPPORT.
This is staggering. This means that a striker for Celtic will be booked more often than a striker for Aberdeen because we have a sizeable away support. We therefore have a set of rules that are not fair and equal. Taking this to extreme, Celtic play Aberdeen in a Scottish Cup Final and could have Leigh Griffiths suspended because we played all our cup games away and the luck of the draw had them at home in every tie – utterly bonkers!
There are some grounds at Scotland where celebrating off the pitch is difficult NOT to do. For example a player running at pace towards goal at Tynecastle would find it virtually impossible to not reach the fans after scoring. Maybe Scottish football should have the UEFA ruling on seat proximity to the playing area and take away rows?
The role of Police Scotland is to protect and ensure we can go enjoy daily life activities that society creates. That is all. It is NOT their role to unilaterally impose upon us. I heard from enough reliable sources that Craig Thomson was aware from police that a 3-0+ victory by Celtic in the league cup semi final against NC/C would result in a pitch invasion. The proposition that this affected his refereeing of the 2nd half is given credence by John Robertson’s revelation. Also, one of the SFA rules in booking is common sense, something Ian Brines failed to show when his last action of the Celtic v ICT game of 2007 was to show a 2nd yellow to JVoH, but then if he was under police orders he maybe didn’t have the flexibility.
The game should be run by its own rules. It is public entertainment. We cannot have rules that are more draconian for one club than another. This set up means that a club that scores more away goals and has a larger travelling support will incur more bookings than others – and bookings to the most important players on the park, match winning goal scorers.
The SFA need to clarify this position and society needs a wider debate about the amount unelected police can enforce rules upon us.