Why FIFA Really Banned The Removal Of Shirts In Goal Celebrations

It turns out Diego Forlan has a lot to answer for.

A player is booked for taking his shirt off.
Yellow Card for taking off your shirt It wasn't always this way. Image Getty

Diego Forlan’s Manchester United career was something of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, the Uruguayan went 26 games for the Red Devils without scoring a goal but, on the other, he did go on to score important goals against the likes of Glasgow Rangers and arch-rivals Liverpool.

Oh and he was also guilty of this absolutely horrendous miss though, granted, it did come in a pre-season friendly:

Joint top scorer at the 2010 World Cup, where he also claimed the FIFA Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, it’s fair to say Forlan bounced back from his time at Old Trafford.

A two-time Pichichi Trophy winner as top scorer in Spain’s La Liga on two occasions, Forlan’s impact on the game is keenly felt even today – but not necessarily in the way he might have wanted.

Because, to all intents and purposes, Forlan may be one of the chief reasons footballers are no longer allowed to celebrate a goal by taking off their shirts.

It all dates back to Forlan’s time with Manchester United and a league encounter with Southampton in the 2002-03 campaign.

Forlan, as you already know, struggled to find the net during his time with United so, when he did score against the Saints on that particular occasion, he was in the mood to celebrate.

At the time, there were no rules in place governing that the removal of a shirt would prompt an automatic yellow card.

Forlan changed all that though after suffering the kind of epic fail that earmarked his Red Devils career.

The problem was not so much that Forlan couldn’t get his shirt off – he did that and looked as happy as larry, swinging it around his head in celebration.

No, the real issues emerged when the South American attempted to get the damn thing back on, prompting a few mental minutes in which Forlan had no shirt on at all and was left running around carrying an inside out shirt.

Fortunately, some of those mental few minutes were captured for posterity on YouTube:

Just a few months later, the current rules were implemented by a FIFA sub-committee with a BBC Sport report on the change highlighting the fallout from the Forlan incident.

Obviously the Uruguayan was not the sole reason behind the change – the report also points to unhappy shirt sponsors and the impact the images may have had in the Muslim world where the sight of bare chests is deemed offensive.

Still, loaded likes to think it’s all down to Forlan and his ridiculous inside-out shirt – it’s nice to think he made some sort of impact on the Premier League. However small.

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