x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Football: Power is in the players' hands

If all players refused to shake hands with the rival team surely this would force the Premier League to end it.

Ferdinand ignored Terry's extended hand.
Ferdinand ignored Terry's extended hand.

This pre-match ritual needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.

As one weekend ends, overshadowed by a non-handshake, another looms with the farcical protocol ready to be thrust into the spotlight again.

Anton Ferdinand refused to shake hands with Chelsea's John Terry and Ashley Cole before the game at Loftus Road on Saturday.

Terry had been found not guilty by a court for racially abusing the Queens Park Rangers defender, and Cole had supported the Chelsea captain. The incident from last year is awaiting a ruling from the English Football Association.

Mark Hughes, the QPR manager, said of the contentious formality: "You can't get too misty-eyed about the old days and how it used to be, a lot of things have moved on for the better. But I'm not sure about this."

So, despite a weekend which saw Arsenal win 6-1 and Manchester United 4-0, this issue dominated the football agenda.

Attention now turns to Liverpool, where Manchester United visit on Sunday, and where it will be Luis Suarez versus Patrice Evra.

Neither will want to shake the other's hand.

Evra claimed he was racially abused by the Liverpool forward. The FA found Suarez guilty and handed him an eight-game ban last season.

Suarez claims that the French left-back fabricated the story.

With the recent findings on the Hillsborough disaster it should be expected, or rather hoped, that the players will put aside their grievances.

It is also thought that Liverpool will instruct Suarez to shake Evra's hand, having refused to in the last meeting of these teams.

The only way that this ridiculous procedure - started in 2004, would you believe, as a gesture of goodwill - could be stopped is if the players take the matter into their own, ahem ... hands.

If all players refused to shake hands with the rival team surely this would force the Premier League to end it.

Instead, at the end of the game, as is common practice, the players can shake hands or simply trudge off the pitch ignoring all. Now where have we seen this situation before?

Oh yeah, the 1990s.

Park Ji-sung, Anton Ferdinand's captain at QPR and a former teammate of his brother Rio at United, also refused to shake Terry's hand.

How long before there is a situation when a whole team backs a player's "cause" and refuses the hand of an opponent?

And does anyone else suspect it might involve Terry?

 

cpyke@thenational.ae