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Former referee calls for change to topless celebration rule

Ronaldo enjoys whipping his top off to celebrate and if Mark Halsey was in charge he would not be punished for the celebration
Ronaldo enjoys whipping his top off to celebrate and if Mark Halsey was in charge he would not be punished for the celebration

Cristiano Ronaldo going topless is no problem for former referee Mark Halsey, who feels players should not be booked for removing their shirt when celebrating goals.

Real Madrid frontman Ronaldo – winner of a second successive Ballon d’Or award this week – famously bared his chest after netting in his side’s Champions League final victory over Atletico Madrid in May.

He was shown a yellow card for the celebration, just as Robin van Persie was earlier this season for whipping his shirt off after notching Manchester United’s equaliser in their 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

On that occasion United boss Louis van Gaal criticised Van Persie for his “stupid reaction” to scoring, and there were similar scenes at the same ground on Sunday when Southampton’s Dusan Tadic was booked having exposed his top half – in a Ronaldo-esque pose – after slotting in the winner in his team’s 1-0 win over the Red Devils.

Saints boss Ronald Koeman also used the word “stupid” when referring to his player – but Halsey thinks what is really “silly” is the rule itself.

Mark Halsey believes the rule should be changed
Mark Halsey believes the rule should be changed

In his column for the Bolton News on Wednesday, the ex-Premier League referee said: “Cristiano is a player who isn’t shy about taking off his shirt and I’m sure he has picked up a few needless cautions down the years.

“But isn’t it time we abolished this silly law and just admit that it is done in the name of entertainment?

“If a player whips off his shirt and there is a political message underneath then fine, punish him retrospectively if you have to.

“But if it is done in the heat of battle, showing the passion we have in our game, I think we should let it slide.

“Referees don’t want to enforce that law, they are made to.”

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