Elaborate goal celebrations like somersaults and backflips could become a thing of the past after Fifa’s medical committee warned that it will push for a new rule to ban them because they pose a danger to players.
The football world was left shocked this week following the death of Peter Biaksangzuala, who died last Sunday after falling on his head while attempting a somersault goal celebration. The 23 year-old midfielder had scored for Bethlehem Vengthlang FC, a club based in the north-east Indian state of Mizoram.
Dr Michel D’Hooghe, chairman of Fifa’s medical committee, told The Independent: “Obviously we want players to celebrate goals, they are an important part of football and we do not want to stop them. But these kind of celebrations, all kinds of somersaults and backflips have to be stopped. Players are putting their lives in danger, as we have tragically seen.”
Dr D’Hooghe said that a directive would be issued to players over the next few days warning them not to perform such celebrations and the medical committee would then begin the process of initiating a rule to outlaw them. The final decision will be taken by the International Football Association Board, the game’s rule-making body.
Dr D’Hooghe added: “Fifa is warning all players not to put themselves in danger like this but I don’t think this will be enough to stop them. I believe that it can only be imposed by new legislation making them illegal but this is going to take a bit more time. We have to go through a formal process and take in the views of other parties such as the players, referees and national associations.”
Biaksangzuala landed on his head and severely damaged his spinal cord after scoring a 62nd-minute equaliser against Chanmari West FC in a Mizoram Premier League match, a state-level competition in Indian football’s third tier. He spent five days in hospital before doctors switched off his life support machine.
According to team-mates, Biaksangzuala was attempting to emulate record World Cup goalscorer Miroslav Klose’s signature celebratory flip.
Dr D’Hooghe said: “We are primarily focusing on high profile players because they are well known and younger players look to imitate them in how they celebrate scoring.”