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.
— 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.
— 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!”
— 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.
— Foreign attackers all have a “cultured left foot” and each one is therefore “such a clever player.”
— Managers given a ‘vote of confidence’ from their chairman should immediately update their résumé as the sack is imminent.
— 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.
— 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.”
— 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.
— Every great team must have someone in the ‘Makelele role’ protecting the back four.
— 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.)
— 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.
— Any player being filmed leaving a team bus must ensure that he is wearing oversized headphones and carrying an undersized man-bag.
— 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.
— The best time to score is just before half time.
— Decisions even themselves out over a season. Karma exists for all clubs.
— Teams are at their weakest when they’ve just scored.
— If any team wins after being 0-2 down then they showed “great character” to recover. Real “bouncebackability.“
— Making a substitution before defending a corner is the most naive thing a manager can do
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.