Time for football to scrap this ritual?

So here we are again, discussing what we thought, just a few weeks ago, to be an insignificant aspect of the pre-match ritual, the handshake.

After Luis Suarez’s snubbing of Patrice Evra at Old Trafford on Saturday, the issue has once again been dragged up, but does the handshake actually mean anything? And do we need it?

Why bother with wishing your opponents “all the best” just to then kick, dive and feign injury in a bid to gain any advantage possible. Its not genuine, it’s a farcical PR exercise.

Players are adults, and if they want to seek out their opposition and shake hands, let them, if not; don’t. It simply doesn’t matter, the game of football about to take place is all that matters. As we have seen the forcing of the two tribes during the weekends encounter sparked ugly scenes, both on and off of the pitch.

Lets take a look at the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand saga. The pre match handshakes were cancelled; Chelsea and QPR lined up and played out a good game of football, with no real incident. Compare this to Manchester United and Liverpool; Suarez felt, rightly or wrongly, that he did not want to shake Evra’s hand so he refused and the tone for the afternoon was set.

Maybe being in the position he was in, Suarez should have just shaken Evra’s hand, and defused the situation. But, he felt he had been wronged, so any handshake would have been an empty gesture, and is that any better than a refusal?

It’s not just racial incidents that have caused snubs. Wayne Bridge refused the hand of Terry after an alleged affair between the Chelsea captain and his former partner and Samir Nasri snubbed William Gallas, for comments made in his autobiography. People cannot and should not be forced to shake hands; it makes a mockery of everything the act stands for.

To cling on to the gentlemanly tradition of the games origins is now an impossible task. The spirit of fair play is all but gone, players are floored by the slightest brush, cards are waved in the wake of almost any challenge and referees are surrounded by packs of rabid players disputing every decision given.

The media should shoulder just as much blame as any other party, with their desire to turn any aspect of a match into an event churning out another story, stoking the fire to an almost uncontrollable level.

The handshake is essence is a good idea, but to force it upon people is not so. As John Barnes recently discussed on SkySports, a handshake at the end of the game is more significant, it shows players wanting to congratulate opponents and acknowledging a good game of football.

In a sport where the gentleman is a dying species, the pre-match handshake is becoming a farcical event; it’s time to move on.

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