Keep your shirts on, lads!

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:33 AM ET

Scoring goals is better than sex, so the saying goes. But players who enjoy it just a little too much could be prevented from doing it on a regular basis - at least on the soccer field.

Thanks to the latest Big Brother-style rules introduced by the men in suits running - or ruining - the world game, "excessive displays of celebration" have been outlawed.

So, players will no longer be able to strip naked, run the length of the field and bend over in front of opposing fans to reveal the words 'you' and 'suck' tattooed on their butt cheeks. Cut it out guys. Enough already.

Hell, anyone scoring a goal should probably be careful about smiling too broadly from now on. The celebration police don't take kindly to public displays of happiness.

Okay, so it's not quite that bad, but you've got to wonder about the state of the game when Law 12 of the FIFA rulebook, which came into effect in July, states the following: "the removal of the jersey after a goal has been scored is unnecessary and players must avoid such excessive displays of celebration." No, really.

And for those unclear about the letter of the law, the rulebook goes on to explain that the "removal of a jersey is defined as removing the jersey over the head or covering the head with the jersey."

The punishment for this heinous offence is a yellow card, so if you've already been cautioned, you get an early bath - and are likely to be suspended for several games.

I'm sure some parents will be pleased, since little Johnnie sometimes falls over when copying said manoeuvre in the backyard.

But in a professional game, when it makes the difference between a win and a loss?

Players who celebrate a little too enthusiastically in other ways - by making gestures to fans, for example - could also get into hot water. But the guidelines are less clear.

FIFA doesn't have a section titled "approved methods of celebration" on its website, but no doubt they'd prefer it if players would just nod their heads after scoring, or maybe shake hands.

With crowd violence still a problem in some parts of the world, something has to be done to stop players taunting their opponents or fans during a game.

But the solution is simple: leave it up to the referee to decide whether they need to take action. And in extreme circumstances, hit the player with a big fine and a long suspension. End of story? Unfortunately not.

Tim Cahill of English Premiership team Everton was recently sent off for pulling his shirt over his head after scoring. Fortunately for him, his goal proved to be the winner.

But when Northern Ireland's David Healy put his team 2-0 up against Wales in a World Cup qualifying game and was sent off, Wales pulled two goals back and the game ended in a draw. Oh, and then those men in suits handed Healy a one-match ban. Neither team is now expected to qualify.

Healy got his first yellow card not for pulling his shirt over his head, but for kicking a corner flag. He was then sent off for making "a gesture" to the crowd, which the ref thought was obscene. Turns out Healy was blowing kisses to his family.

"In any game that David scores, he comes to where his family sits," his dad Clifford told the BBC. "When he scored, he came over to us and gestured as he normally does.

"If anybody knows my son, they realize that it's not rude. He was also blowing kisses up to us. Is that rude?"

- Canada's chances of qualifying for the World Cup may be somewhere between slim and none, but it could be worse. At least we have a stadium to play in.

Costa Rica's Saprissa Stadium, the venue for last week's World Cup qualifier - which saw Canada defeated 1-0 by the hosts - was closed shortly after the game when authorities claimed they were owed an estimated $500,000 US in taxes.

Maybe Canada, after enduring some questionable refereeing decisions during a draw with Honduras, should offer to stage Costa Rica's next game at Commonwealth Stadium.

As a reward, FIFA could always throw a few World Cup points our way. Or give us a more understanding referee.

- Real Madrid's David Beckham, who inspired the hit movie Bend it Like Beckham, has signed yet another huge endorsement deal - despite playing like a man weighed down by too many tattoos. His contract for plugging Gillette razors and blades will earn him about $79 million Cdn and, apparently, they've already settled on a new slogan for the ads: "Shave it Like Beckham."


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