Everyone knows them and nobody questions them. Underneath football’s flashy exterior are a set of established laws that add character and curiosity to the ‘beautiful game.’ You won’t find them written down in any FIFA rule book. Here are some of the most common:

Character Cliches and Matchday ‘Laws’

— Substitutions warming up must always put their hands behind their backs and kick their heels up to touch them, even though they never do this at any other time.

Another favoured warm-up of the England swing dance team

The fourth official must always check a substitute’s studs before he comes on, even though none of the studs of the players on the pitch were checked. There’s hasn’t been a substitute in history that has ever been caught wearing ‘inappropriate studs’ however.

Soccer - Spanish La Liga - Real Madrid v Barcelona
Checking Romario’s studs – presumably for traces of witchcraft

— Corner kick takers must raise at least one arm in the air before taking the kick. This is the universal signal for “I’m taking the kick now!”

Phil Jones’ impression of a fork was rubbish

— Goalkeepers must always come up for corner kicks in stoppage time when losing a cup game, regardless of the fact that they have never won a header in their lives.

Close your eyes and hope!

Foreign attackers all have a “cultured left foot” and each one is therefore “such a clever player.”

Henry’s left foot is so cultured it has a mind of its own. (It even enjoys going to the opera)

— Managers given a ‘vote of confidence’ from their chairman should immediately update their résumé as the sack is imminent.

“Yes of course I have full confidence in my Tottenham manager….”

—  Promising 18-20 year olds, just like a FIFA video game, will get better each year until they peak at 27. They then begin to slow down, lose that “yard of pace”, and only deserve 1-year contracts.

masih muda sekalii
Ronaldo aged 27
Ronaldo aged 28

— Classy players never celebrate when they score against their former teams. If the classy footballer ever encounter controversy they are often acquitted on the grounds that they’re, “not that kind of player.”

Adebayor trying to start World War III by running 100 metres to slide in front of the fans of his previous club (I’m not bitter.) (Honest)

— No-Nonsense players spend their time booting both (a) the ball high in to “Row Z” and (b) the opposition players up in the air. Usually praised for, “making a nuisance of themselves”, they are footballers that avoid all the ‘nonsense’ of: controlling the ball, footwork, long-range passing, and scoring goals. No-nonsense players normally come from Scotland or the North of England, where living conditions are harsh and food cannot be readily purchased.

A clean tackle by Celtic vs. Rangers standards

— Every great team must have someone in the ‘Makelele role’ protecting the back four.

Makelele doing his best impression of a wall

— Players carried off on a stretcher must always be applauded. (Players with equally serious injuries who are helped off by the physio must be booed.)

What an ass!

— A player who misses an easy chance must immediately look at the ground and inspect it for any clumps of turf. If he finds nothing wrong, he must then inspect his boots to determine the exact cause of the miss.

The ball ends up in ‘Row Z’ – Must have been the grass’ fault

— Any player being filmed leaving a team bus must ensure that he is wearing oversized headphones and carrying an undersized man-bag.

“You have to get yourself on Tinder, everyone’s doing it!”

— Players left out of the squad aren’t too bothered about it as they get paid lots of money. Teams “play too much football these days” anyway so the extra rest is a welcomed bonus.

Matthew Ghent, 32, a former goalkeeper for Aston Villa and England’s youth teams
Premiership footballers are so rich they don’t even need to dry themselves after a bath

— The best time to score is just before half time.

The effect conceding a goal before half time can have on a manager.

— Decisions even themselves out over a season. Karma exists for all clubs.

Rule #1 – If in doubt; blame the referee. Rule #2 – If still not satisfied, give him a push in the right direction

— Teams are at their weakest when they’ve  just scored.

There’s no way he’s going to shoot from…. OOOH!

— If any team wins after being 0-2 down then they showed “great character” to recover. Real “bouncebackability.

Steven Gerrard. More ‘bouncebackability’ than his wife Alex Curran in her photoshoots

— Making a substitution before defending a corner is the most naive thing a manager can do

Wenger hoped no-one would notice he was subbing on 3 players in place of 1.

So there you have it folks; Part 1: Character Cliches and Matchday Laws. Part 2 is coming soon and looks at the humorous stereotypes of International players, national leagues, and individual clubs. In the meantime keep kicking and running and looking stunning.