News recently broke of how Gareth Bale has trademarked his now famous “heart” celebration. The celebration, now known as The Eleven of Hearts ™ has been registered with the Intellectual Property Office.
The celebration first came about as a tribute to Bale’s girlfriend as he’d been out injured. However, the celebration has since become synonymous with Bale’s (often fantastic) goals and fans now expect it following yet another left footed strike.
However, cynics may argue that this is taking something away from goal celebrations and the game as a whole. Gary Lineker once famously suggested that scoring a goal was better than sex. Scoring a goal brings a huge outpouring of emotions for players, fans and coaches alike. There is no better feeling in football. Anyone who has ever experienced being in a crowd to witness a last minute goal or a goal of the season contender, would testify that the sudden release of noise, colour and excitement is why people attend football matches. All the previous passages of play, near misses are erased in the small time it takes the ball to hit the back of the net. Sky Sports marketed last season’s Premier League coverage as “Every goal matters” linked to footage of crowds celebrating their team’s goals. The ad served to show just how much a goal means.
Bale’s trademarking of a goal celebration seems clinical and another example of how some of today’s footballers market themselves to make as much money out of the game as possible. Beckham trademarked a logo, so did Ronaldo but this appears to be the first case of trademarking a celebration. Does this mean Bale can sue if another player does it? Robbie Keane may now wish he did the same with his cartwheeling, Shearer with his right arm aloft.
Picture the scene; Spurs need to win their last game of the season to qualify for the Champions League. They are awarded a free kick, Bale duly despatches it into the net and White Hart Lane erupts. The players mob him, and then the choreographed celebration. It becomes rehearsed, expected and takes the spontaneity out of the moment.
The flipside to that view is that Bale is merely making the most of the avenues available to him and who can blame him for doing so? Most of us would do the same given the opportunity in our current jobs. Why should footballers be any different? Bale is cashing in on his current popularity and guaranteeing his financial future for himself and his family. The trademark could ultimately raise his profile to make him become one of the world’s leading players.
Bale’s celebration is a show of affection to his girlfriend; other players do similar celebrations to their families. They may argue that the celebration demonstrates passion towards the people who matter most to them.
However, in today’s modern game the temptation to become a commodity rather than a passionate sportsman is a temptation that many will give into.