Waxing lyrical on shaking hands and sporting war!

A few years ago the then Carlton AFL player Brock Mclean announced on a mainstream footy show that he refuses to shake his direct opponents hand on the footy field before a game, because that “is what his Dad did”….

I remember being disgusted by this (and venting on the nackers site) and now on Saturday in a different code , in a different country, with specific context and on a gigantic Global stage Luis Suarez has had to apologise on behalf of the Liverpool Football Club – For not shaking the Patrice Evra, the Man U Captain’s hand

This is after being found guilty and banned for 8 mathces for racial vilification against Evra in the corresponding fixture back in October 2011.

Did Suarez do the wrong thing or was it his way of protesting his innocence? i.e. he actually didn’t do anything wrong?

Now without getting into the whole Man U vs. LFC debate is there ever a case for not shaking hands?

And the obvious animosity, developing intense rivalry  between Suarez and Evra raises the topic of what have been some of the biggest personal stouches/personal rivalries in sporting history?  Javed Miandad  vs.  Dennis Lillee not liking each other springs to mind straight off the (aluminium) bat but these were older rivalries which I only knew from images in books and from older family and friends.  Surely other rivalries exist but are not as well known? E.g. Phil Nicholson and tiger woods?

And do these rivalries help or hinder sport?  Looking forward to reading the voice of the nackers community…and metaphoric shaking of hands.

About Dan Crane

Hi , I'm Dan. I'm a Geelong, Liverpool, Sturt and Celtic FC fan with soft spots for Richmond, Chester and Leicester FC's as well. I'm an Geography, History & English teacher who adores sport but whatever you do, don't ever start me on music....


  1. Suarez gesture was a disgrace in the true sense of the word. He showed no grace or remorse and to me , this was another form of racial vilification. Sportspeople should shake hands before and after each match. It is sport, not war. It is the spoilt little shits like Suarez who are putting me off professional sport in all forms. Shouldn’t be happening in 2012. I wonder what would happen if something similar happened in the faux Apollonian world of the AFL?

  2. Dan – I reckon there’s a world of difference between rivalries (i.e. players/teams that don’t like each other for whatever reason) and the issue of racism in sport.

    In answer to your original question, I reckon personal animosities, no matter how bitter, should be put aside once players cross the white line. If it’s too hard, don’t play. It is, as Phil says, sport, and should be treated as such no matter how many millions the players are pocketing. The provocative actions on Saturday of Suarez (and Evra, too, by the way) were petulant and totally unjustified and I hope their humility in response to the massive outcry is genuine.

    The entirely separate question is whether the original allegations of racism could have been better handled. If Suarez was guilty he deserves his full whack. But it seemed to me that the FA was itching to make a punitive statement and Suarez happened to be a convenient and unlucky miscreant who copped the full blast of their moral outrage – after decades of fence-sitting and inaction. No surprise then at his indignation. Equally, there seemed to be no attempt to actually use the incident in a broader educational strategy, involving the players and clubs, to state clearly that racism is unacceptable. I wonder whether Saturday’s antics would have occurred had this been done?

    The contrast that springs to mind is the AFL’s stance on racism post-the 1995 Anzac Day game (Monkhorst and Cockatoo-Collins). The clear difference here was that in addition to investigating the case and imposing the appropriate penalty, the League forced the players and the clubs to get together and confront the issue and then go public about it. It looked strained, it looked awkward and it was obviously an ordeal for all concerned. But it was darned side more effective in forcing the entire competition to think seriously about a deep-seated issue (rather than a one-off incident) and resolve, collectively, that it had to be eliminated.

  3. The whole hand shaking ritual has baffled me since it was brought into the premier league. I do wonder whether being ordered to do this is reinforcing the childish behaviour you often see (I.e Evra’s behaviour at the end of the game) as from the start of the game you’re essentially being treated as one.

    An excellent point has been made (as usual) by Martin Samuel in today’s Daily Mail*, saying that the handshake ritual can now be used as some form of gamesmanship. If the league are fair dinkum about it, then anyone who doesn’t do it should be reprimanded/fined. If they don’t want to do that, give it the flick. No one will miss it.

    As for shaking hands pre game generally, for me it depends on the sport. When I’m playing basketball, I happily follow the usual practice of everyone doing it. When playing footy, however, I’m not inclined to do it and if someone extends it to me, I may respond (with little enthusiasm) or I might give them a shove. Admittedly that rarely happens, but I just find it unnecessary for some reason.

    Refusing a post game handshake is more of an issue. The context there (in any sport) is that your opponent has played outside the rules/spirit of the game.

    Big fan of Agassi/Sampras. Am (belatedly) reading Andre’s book. A cracking tale

    * http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2100211/Martin-Samuel-Harrys-man-work-miracles.html
    (at the end of the Harry R article)

  4. Dan I used to do what my dad told me to do.

    If we were beaten I would walk up to specific players, look them in the eye, shake their hands and congratulate them.

    If we won I would do exactly the same thing except say to them ‘we were lucky today’. The old man said that that sort of humility pisses them off even more.

    I remember a school soccer team that I coached had just lost a state premiership in Hobart. Before addressing my players I took the team captain into the opposition sheds. I was very disaooponted but knew that it had to be done.

    When I said to them “I hope you are all proud of yourselves, you’ve ruined my day, and my season” it took them a while to work it out but they did and the post match official presentation was a very congenial event.

  5. As a hockey player, things are/were a little different. At the start of the game, the teams run on and face each other, with a ritual 3 taps of the sticks on the ground. The home team calls for 3 cheers for the visitors, and then the visitors do the same. A team event, and nothing personal (although some individuals do then shake hands). At the end of the game, it is/was common for players to shake the hands of most if not all of the opposing team. I did not only if I thought that my direct opponent had played outside the letter and spirit of the game (hitting behind play, late tackles etc). The proponents of the ‘what goes on the field, stays on the field’ would disagree, but I considered it hypocritical to shake the hand of someone who had deliberately tried to injure me outside the rules.

  6. Damo Balassone says

    Is it a coincidence that the man at the centre of this scandal is also the man responsible for that despicable act of cheating in the 2010 World Cup Quarter Finals?

    Fully agree with the comments above: “a spoilt little sh!t”.

  7. Stainless i think you have hit the nail on the head with the fact that the FA didn’t do go a good job in the first place with the original racial allegations.

    I’m not going to get into the whole cheating/whether or not suarez is a good bloke debate but it is true that they are all ‘spolit little shites’ I feel sorry for dalgish, he has stood by his man in the same way that alex f did in the mid 90s after eric cantona’s ‘kung fu kick’.

    i also never really thought about the fact that the players are forced to shake hands…..i’d rather they stand opposite each other with land of hope and glory or some dramatic opera music playing to build crowd excitement……..

  8. I hate that shaking hands before the start of a game has disappeared out of footy. It seems to have been forgotten that there is no contest without an opponent, therefore they deserve acknowledgement at least, if not respect.

    In primary school our old coach insisted we shake hands with our direct opponent before each game. As I recall most of my opponents were very pleased to reciprocate.

  9. I wonder what the protocol was at the Coliseum back in 100AD.

  10. Alovesupreme says

    It’s my understanding that the ritualised hand shake at the beginning of soccer matches (in the UK and Australia certainly, and I assume elsewhere) was introduced as an marketing/publicity exercise in emphasising fair play. In Aussie Rules, it is obviously a matter of individual choice. Given the less structured nature of positions on the field these days – as compared with, say the pre-1980s – it’s less obvious who “my” opponent is, and how long he and I will be standing each other (to use the SA expression). A long time ago, when I played, there was typically a minute prior to the first bounce when each player was alongside his opponent. The hand-shake fitted easily, and seemed an appropriate if barely sincere exercise. My recollection is that at the end of the match, you would only shake hands with your direct opponent (multiples, if you’d spent the afternoon on more than one).

    These days it seems that players shake hands with the full complement of the opposition.That occurs in park-level football as well as in the top stratum. It’s an informal example of the ritualised version in American football or (I think) rugby. Of course, it wasn’t possible in the VFL in the past, to have more than a perfunctory hand-shake with the nearest opponent at the final siren, when players would have to run the gauntlet of fans (and opposition supporters) and leave the ground quickly. Iirc the 2nd siren was established because Warwick Capper was given the treatment after a game at Vic Park. That’s in those distant days before $6,000 fines for spectators’ desecrating the playing surface at any time; vale that cherished tradition of the post-match on ground kick.

  11. This is another media ‘beat-up’ promoted by pretentious journalists who are incapable of intelligent comment and opinion These pretentious journalists like to write or talk about morality in sport, but generally do it badly because they do not have the philosophical knowledge and intellectual skillls to discuss morality and ethical behavior. I am only interested in opinion on these issues by people such as the ethics philosopher Peter Singer. I believe the Suarez/Evra incident is personal and should not be public. The English media treatment of this issue in England only confirms that the English are the most rascist of people.
    Handshakiing in sport is personal only.
    I believe that handshaking before a game is meaningless. My memory of such behavior in junior footy is that it was done only because we were told to do so by the coach. I cannot remember it being done in adult footy by most players, except for some full back and full forward opponents.
    Handshaking after a game is only meaningful as acknowledgement of a tough and fair contest with a direct opponent.The former Geelong captain, Cameron Ling, is a good example of someone who played sport in a fair and tough way and always acknowledged his opponent at the end of the game.

  12. pamela sherpa says

    As a female playing sport -before the game acknowledgements were never done but after the game – ALWAYS. Handshakes in tennis, 3 cheers for the opposing side or an all in together team cheer in a circle for netball and basketball.

  13. when i played netball (in the good old days) the teams lined up and were introduced by name by the chosen captain of the match to the opposition.
    while no handshakes occurred before our matches, they did after the game was won. although
    our coach was very strict about us singing the school song only when the other school had left, probably thought it was rubbing it in, yet she sang it louder than us all!

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