Friday 11 March 2011

Respect Campaign

The following incident occurred just before kickoff at the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Shalke 04 and Valencia on Tuesday 8 March 2011. The match finished 3—1, with Shalke 04 winning the tie 4—2 on aggregate.

Before KO referee Jonas Eriksson (Sweden) pointed to his sleeve and said this to the two team captains:

This is the word respect. Respect for the two teams between the players, and for the referees.

This is a nice but ultimately redundant gesture. The two team captains are hardly going to set off back to their respective halves to tell their team-mates to respect the opposition and respect the match officials, are they?

Nevertheless, if this gesture at all matches is televised more frequently (without the TV commentators talking over the referee) — and even televised live on the giant screens in the stadium — then perhaps it will start to sow some seeds of comprehension to those watching.

In fact, whenever players and coaching staff complain and show dissent, it would be the ultimate gesture for the TV controllers to replay what was said at the beginning of the match, to remind the players what they verbally agreed to at the start of the match.

And conversely when the two teams really do play football and respect the game (as seen between Shalke and Valencia), instead of resorting to all the tricks, theatrics and histrionics that referees have to deal with, then a replay of the respect statement should also be shown and the players would actually gain credit and respect for their sportsmanship.

Respect should be present, and seen to be present, at all levels of the game.

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