Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

How Caolan's heartfelt gesture showed up another farcical Fifa failure

Caolan Lavery

Promising young Northern Ireland striker Caolan Lavery wheeled away in delight after scoring for Sheffield Wednesday against Birmingham City at Hillsborough last Saturday.

It was an emotional moment for the 21-year-old.

His first thought was for his mother Moia, who has had a tough time lately.

Lavery whipped off his shirt to reveal a vest with the message 'GET WELL SOON MUM'.

Moia recently had a lump removed from her breast. The cancer scare was hard for Caolan to come to terms with, harder still because at this worrying time, with his Ulster-born family now living in Canada, he is thousands of miles away from the people who mean most to him in the world.

He is, of course, in regular contact with his mum, but wanted his heartlfelt words to give her a lift.

Determined to score, which he did TWICE in a 4-1 victory, Lavery's idea was to send a photograph of his message to surprise his convalescing mother.

After the match the Northern Ireland under-21 international, who surely can't be far away from a call up to the full squad, said: "Mum had a bit of a lump in her breast so they removed it. She's just recovering from that now having got out of hospital a few days ago.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks. She's always been there, for all us, I have three brothers and two sisters. She's always been a very strong person. The two goals were for her and so was my message."

For taking his shirt off Caolan was booked.

The referee didn't know the circumstances behind the celebration. Even if he had done, though, he would still have cautioned the youngster.

Not because he is a heartless pig but because he'd been instructed to do so by the sport's governing body, Fifa.

A yellow card for a player taking their shirt off after a goal is one of the silliest laws in football.

Obviously Lavery's celebration was premeditated, but on other occasions when a goal has been scored players are transported to another stratosphere where they aren't in control of their actions such is the joy and pride cursing through their veins.

Some jump about like a madman, others do a dance they feel embarrassed about later and a few now and again take their shirt off.

Unless they fling the top into the crowd and it catches a fan in the eye, it's not harming anyone, yet still leads to a ridiculous punishment.

Fifa say it is unsporting behaviour to remove a shirt in celebration.

Soon all messages, even 'GET WELL SOON MUM' will also be outlawed.

This week there were further allegations of corruption aimed at former members of Fifa's Executive Committee.

The controversy over the decision to award the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar has been reignited by claims a company owned by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Qatari who sat on Fifa's ExCo, paid $1.2m to Jack Warner, a fellow Fifa vice-president, after the Gulf state emerged as shock winners of the vote.

Fifa did not request any evidence of wrongdoing be immediately submitted to its ongoing investigation into the awarding of the finals in Qatar or suggest it would actively seek its inclusion.

Talk about an organisation with the wrong priorities. You can always put your shirt on Fifa for that.

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