26 Jul 2013
Why the Handshake Matters
Terry & Ferdinand missing the point of the handshake in football
We have become used to footballers making headlines for the wrong reasons, now it’s the turn of the referee. With players’ abusing referees and linesmen during every game, should we be surprised that a top flight referee has been accused of abusing players in return? Where does this leave the FA’s Respect Campaign, designed to improve behaviour at Grassroots? An initiative that should and could have a really positive influence on everyone involved in the game.
One issue that promotes the “Respect” agenda is the pre match handshake. Hardly controversial, yet some ex-professional players and pundits believe it’s unnecessary. I don’t agree. This small act of mutual respect demonstrates the spirit in which a match is to be played. It sends a clear message to young players watching about the nature and purpose of sport. The refusal to shake hands with an opponent before kick-off puts a players personal considerations above the greater good of the game.
If a professional player feels strongly about the behaviour or character of an opponent a refusal to play against them would show greater integrity. That this pre match formality is viewed by many in the professional game as unnecessary, suggests some have lost sight of footballs wider responsibilities. Respecting opponents and officials in sport teaches young players social skills that are essential in later life. Professional footballers are powerful role models and shaking hands before a game sets a great example.