Last midweek, both social media and the television pundits were ablaze in chatter about one relatively trivial part of a football game. After scoring for Chelsea against his former club Atletico Madrid, Fernando Torres refused to celebrate. Many were angered, some were bemused and some agreed, but why should it really matter?
Looking at it from Torres’ point of view, it’s not at all surprising that he respectfully declined to celebrate his goal. He’d been at Atleti for over 12 years, beginning there at just 11 and altogether he’s still played more games in an Atletico shirt than in both his English clubs combined. They made him into the footballer and the man he is today, he has an enormous amount of love and appreciation for a club he might even re-join come the summer.
Thankfully, some journalists saw this and accepted it as that but there were many more who were irate at the fact he didn’t celebrate. Some were saying “you’ve just scored for your team in the Champions League semi-final, go enjoy yourself!” which is fair enough but I noted someone mention that Chelsea pay him, therefore he should celebrate.
This is where the line should really be drawn. Why should you have to celebrate? Many managers, even in key moments that save their careers, stay in their seat unmoved and decide not to do what essentially is a form of gloating. In places such as the NFL, celebrating in the broadest term isn’t really allowed above a few high-five’s and hugs with teammates, so why should you celebrate just because you can.
It’s a choice, a choice some choose to make and others decide not to. Look at Robin Van Persie’s celebration against Arsenal earlier in the season, he spent a long time at the club but decided that he felt he should celebrate a goal against them which is perfectly fine. It upset Arsenal fans and in turn delighted United fans but again, it’s his choice to do what he likes after scoring a goal as long as it’s not Adebayor-esque.
In the end, some of the older section of football fans, journalists and pundits get a little wound up over the smallest, insignificant matters. You should be able to celebrate in any way you wish within the laws of the game, whether that’s with somersaults or acting like you’ve been there before. It’s something that should only matter to the player himself, it’s their decision and we should leave them to it.