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The true spirit of the Game of Soccer (New version)

Without false modesty, I can say I was a good soccer player. Not unique or outstanding, just good.

But, in one aspect I was unique: in 30 years, from 5 to 35 years old, not only was I NEVER expelled from the field, I NEVER had a yellow card and I played center forward in Italy!

If you know what it means to play in that position in Italy, youíll understand my accomplishment. I accepted every provocation verbal and physical that a defender could say or do to a center forward. My only response was this: put the ball in the net, good-bye and good luck next time.

For me, referees, opponents and the Laws of the Game are sacred! Without them there is no soccer. Without soccer, I canít play and have fun.

Iím always disgusted when I see referees surrounded by players every time they blow the whistle. What ever they decide, one of the two teams always objects violently.

I was waiting for the right time to write about this topic until, by chance, I read something about cricket. You know? That sport played by gentlemen dressed in white? That!

I got interested and wanted to know a little more about the Laws of the game and how a game works.
I was astonished to read that, recently, the Ďspirití in which the game of cricket is played has become one of the Laws of the game.

Please read this and imagine that it refers to a soccer game.


In the late 1990s, two distinguished MCC members (and ex-England captains), Ted Dexter and Lord [Colin] Cowdrey, sought to enshrine the 'Spirit of Cricket' in the game's Laws.

This would remind players of their responsibility for ensuring that cricket is always played in a truly sportsmanlike manner.

The Dexter/Cowdrey initiative proved successful. When the current Code of Laws was introduced, in 2000, it included, for the first time, a Preamble on the Spirit of Cricket.

Spirit of Cricket: Preamble to the Laws

Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.

1. There are two Laws which place responsibility for the team's conduct firmly on the captain.

Responsibility of captains

The captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the Spirit of the Game as well as within the Laws.

Player's conduct

In the event of a player failing to comply with instructions by an umpire, or criticizing by word or action the decision of an umpire, or showing dissent, or generally behaving in a manner which might bring the game into disrepute, the umpire concerned shall in the first place report the matter to the other umpire and to the player's captain, and instruct the latter to take action.

2. Fair and unfair play

According to the Laws the umpires are the sole judges of fair and unfair play.
The umpires may intervene at any time and it is the responsibility of the captain to take action where required.

3. The umpires are authorized to intervene in cases of:

Time wasting
Damaging the pitch
Dangerous or unfair bowling
Tampering with the ball
Any other action that they consider to be unfair

4. The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:

Your opponents
Your own captain
The roles of the umpires
The game's traditional values

5. It is against the Spirit of the Game:

To dispute an umpire's decision by word, action or gesture
To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire
To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance:
(a) to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out
(b) to advance towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing
(c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one's own side

6. Violence

There is no place for any act of violence on the field of play.

7. Players

Captains and umpires together set the tone for the conduct of a cricket match. Every player is expected to make an important contribution towards this.


I think it is time for soccer to do something like this. Especially this year before the European Cup, and in a while the World Cup 2010. Itís time for everybody to take a step back and honor the ĎSpirit of the Game of Soccerí more.

Why try to be a champion and make sacrifices, if any idiot in the world is allowed to slide on the ground, with the leg straight and hit the foot or the leg of the opponent, dangerously hard, with the excuse of attacking the ball?

If we permit this kind of tackle itís not soccer anymore. Itís only legalized aggression and, very often, not even punished with a yellow card.

I repeat. Why practice 6 to 8 hours a day to get better if opponents are allowed to violently tear down anything that moves around them?

In my opinion the figure of the Captain has to be the representative and not just someone who wears a Velcro armband. He represents the club on the field and has to reprimand his team mates before the referee.

When weíre on the field, at whatever level or age, we represent our family, our school, our club, our city or our nation, and this last, in international competitions, in front of the world.

Our nation will be judged by our behavior on the field.

So I hope that really soon, soccer legends from the past and the present, like Paolo Maldini, David Beckham, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Ronaldinho, Kaka sit at a table all together and decide to give back to the sport of soccer some decency!
After that, they can buy an advertising page in all the major sport newspapers and tell the world of soccer what they suggest. They have the experience, the charisma and the money to do that.

Iím a dreamer? Probably!

But, if you are unable to dream, youíll never, EVER become a better soccer player!

Coach Gianni

Posted on 29 Jan 2008 by coachgianni
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