Hugging football players now risk fines up to €10,000

Hugging football players now risk fines up to €10,000
Credit: Belga

Football players who hug each other on the pitch while celebrating a goal or a victory risk fines of up to €10,000 for their clubs, the Belgian Pro League decided.

On Wednesday, the governing board of the Pro League (the top league competition for association football clubs in Belgium) decided that violations of the coronavirus protocols - such as group hug celebrations after a goal or a match - will be punished with an administrative fine.

The continued jumping in each other’s arms and hugging fellow players on the field has sparked a lot of criticism in Belgium, as the country's coronavirus measures dictate that everyone can only have one so-called “cuddle contact.”

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An initial idea had been to punish the behaviour with a yellow card for the players involved, but the Board decided against it as there were too many practical objections.

Based on additional footage and reports that will be made up by the Match Delegate, fines of up to €10,000 (in division 1A) and €5,000 (in division 1B) will be imposed on clubs which have been found to have committed infringements.

Individual players and staff members breaking the rules will also have to pay an additional fine of €750.

In a comprehensive communication to all clubs on Thursday, the Pro League will reiterate the provisions of the protocols, and will urge all clubs to ensure that all rules are strictly adhered to in future.

The fees will be paid in full by the Pro League to Tele-Onthaal, a 24/7 anonymous crisis hotline in Belgium.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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