| No more Ruud acts
Geneva: In a move that may disappoint those thirsting for the sight of tanned torsos and bulging biceps, Fifa has ordered soccer players to keep their shirts on during matches and banned all celebratory post-goal stripteases.
Fifa boss Sepp Blatter said in an interview Wednesday that the decision taken by Fifa’s executive committee last weekend in Paris was designed to restore “order and discipline” to the game, saying that simply too much flesh had been on display at the recent Confederations Cup.
“There were several awkward situations at the Confederations Cup,” he told the Swiss newspaper Blick. “One player needed five minutes to put his jersey back on because his vest was sewn into it.”
Players who ignore the new regulation risk the yellow card for baring their chest or bra, as in the case of Brandi Chastain who pulled off her shirt after scoring the winning goal for the US team in the women’s World Cup final against China four years ago.
Blatter denied that Fifa was being a killjoy. “The show and the emotions associated with soccer don’t depend on a player stripping off his shirt, but far more on the quality of the game,” he told the paper.
Fifa first introduced the striptease ban in 1996, but then relaxed it. Last year, it banned players from displaying slogans or personal messages on their undergarments, saying this breached its rules.
Details of the new regulation will be distributed shortly to national soccer associations ahead of the forthcoming season.
Blick, however, launched a campaign against the proposed ban.
“What a shame,” Miss Switzerland, Nadine Vinzens told the paper. “There’s nothing wrong with players showing their joy by ripping off their shirt.”
Christian Gimenez, one of the heartthrobs and star scorers of Swiss premier league team FC Basel, was unequivocal.
“The goal celebrations are really special for a forward, an expression of joy and emotion. I’ll just have to pull down my shorts in future.”
Blatter also told Blick that Fifa was considering a heat limit on matches following the death of Cameroon’s Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed and died during the semi-finals of the Confederation Cup.
Lyon, the venue of the match, was in the midst of a heatwave, with temperatures touching 37 degree Centigrade. The cause of the player’s death has not been determined.
Blatter will attend Foe’s funeral in St Jean Cathedral in Lyon and his memorial service on July 12 in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.
“Blatter expressed the wish to attend the services personally as a demonstration of his deepest sympathy towards the family and friends of Foe, towards the entire Cameroon football family, and especially to the Cameroon national team that has stayed on in Lyon,” Fifa said in a statement.