Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Shake hands or simply wave goodbye to decency

It may have been a lot easier to take exception to Kenny Dalglish's contempt for a question about the relentless booing and taunting of Patrice Evra, a victim of racism, than Mark Hughes' eagerness to kick into touch what he believes to be the phoney ritual of pre-game handshakes.

But it was still another bleak comment on the collapse of football's finer feelings.



Hughes' point was validated by the fact that he understood most of his Queen's Park Rangers players were planning to join their team-mate Anton Ferdinand in rejecting the hand of John Terry.



According to Hughes, the trouble with the handshaking, in any circumstances, is that it almost always lacks integrity. First the handshaking, you guess the argument goes, then the imaginary red cards, the sly digs, the diving, the grappling and any other sharp practice that comes conveniently to mind.



From this perspective, Hughes is no doubt right. Saying ditch the niceties and move straight into the real business is certainly an acknowledgement of certain realities. But then if shaking the hand of the opponent is a farce, if it is more than anything an invitation to hypocrisy, what does it says about the inherent decency and sportsmanship of our national game? Only that it is just about shot to pieces.



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