Could Tim Cahill be in a spot of bother with FIFA over his goal celebrations?
- Tim Cahill celebrated with ‘T’ celebration as part of sponsored gesture after netting winner against Syria
- Gesture occurred during goal replay on television broadcast, but confirmed on social media posts
- Cahill’s goals were his 49th and 50th scored in Socceroos colours
While scoring his match-winning brace against Syria, Socceroos star Cahill dropped his famous flag-boxing celebrations for some less-fancied moves, motoring away with airplane arms for both goals before being mobbed by teammates.
But amid all the chaos, you would have missed a more subtle gesture Cahill made to the crowd as the euphoria of progressing to the final play-off spot for World Cup qualification ramped up.
Reports claim world football governing body FIFA is investigating Cahill’s celebration after he held up a ‘T’ symbol with his hands, an apparent nod to a travel agency which is a personal sponsor of the 37-year-old.
Indeed, TV audiences would have missed the gesture as broadcasters cut to a replay of the goal which ultimately sent Australia to the intercontinental play-off against Honduras — a two-legged showdown to determine one of the final spots in the 2018 World Cup.
In a now-deleted Instagram post, travel agency TripaDeal posted: “Did you catch Tim Cahill, our new brand ambassador, doing the … ‘T’ after he scored the winning goal last night? Congratulations Tim!”
Cahill replied to the post with a series of emojis, and later tagged the company in a personal post after the match, celebrating the win.
“Another chapter written and plenty more to come. Amazing team performance and really proud of everyone tonight, team, staff and fans,” Cahill wrote, before tagging TripaDeal.
In a statement, FIFA said: “FIFA is reviewing and analysing the reports from the referees and the match commissioners for all matches in FIFA competitions.
“Events which require further attention may be communicated accordingly.”
FIFA’s advertising regulation only refers to clothing
The celebration could put a black mark on Cahill’s incredible Socceroos milestone, with the winner his 50th goal in Socceroos colours.
FIFA’s regulations do not directly stipulate for celebrations and gestures, other than the revealing of messages on clothing and equipment.
In FIFA’s Laws of the Game, it states that players’ “basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.
“The team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or, statements or images will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by FIFA.”
On advertising specifically, FIFA only mentions “undergarments” in its regulations.
“A player/team of a player that reveals an undergarment that shows political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manufacturer logo will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by FIFA.”
Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner was the most high-profile casualty of this regulation when he revealed a personal sponsor embroidered on his underpants while celebrating a goal for Denmark in 2012.
Scoring against Portugal in the Euro 2012, tournament, Bendtner was fined 80,000 pounds and banned for one international match by European governing body UEFA.
Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner exposed some corporate-sponsored underpants during Euro 2012. (Reuters: Eddie Keogh)
It is not the first time Cahill’s celebrations have caught the eye. After scoring against Kyrgyzstan in Canberra in 2015, he mimed the flipping of pages in a book before finishing off with his trademark boxing routine on the corner flag.
The celebration came, as coincidence would have it, after Cahill had released a children’s book and autobiography.
Cahill was quizzed at a media gathering after the match about speculation surrounding Ange Postecoglou and his future as Socceroos coach, with Cahill saying he was disappointed talk was focused on reports the coach was set to quit as Australia boss, rather than the win over Syria.
“I feel that this angle [speculation over Postecoglou’s future], the day after the biggest game in Australian soccer to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup, is not needed. Especially now,” Cahill said.
“I think we concentrate on celebrating a 2-1 victory, firstly, and looking forward to a full house at home in Sydney of 80,000-plus.”
Now it seems the focus has shifted again, but not how Cahill would have wanted.
The ‘Warner leap’ is increasingly being referred to as ‘the Toyota’ by Cricket Australia. (AP: A.M. Ahad)
Sponsored and trademarked celebrations have become prominent in world sport, including on Australia’s doorstep.
David Warner is the most recognisable case in Australia, with his ‘Warner leap’ — his signature jump into the air after scoring a century — now increasingly being referred to as ‘the Toyota’, thanks to the motor company’s sponsorship of Cricket Australia and extensive advertising campaigns.
Also in football, Wales winger Gareth Bale’s ’11 of Hearts’ goal celebration — he curls his fingers into a heart shape — was trademarked by the footballer prior to his lucrative move to Real Madrid.
Trademarking it meant Bale could use the logo of the celebration on “clothing, footwear and headgear”, according to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office.
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