There are two particularly emotionally charged moments in football. The first is when a goal is scored, sparking wild celebrations among players and causing fans to cheer at the top of their voices. Memorable examples of players’ goal celebrations include Bebeto ‘rocking the baby’ at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™ and Miroslav Klose’s somersaults.
The mascot of MLS team Portland Timbers, ‘Timber Joey’, also has a unique way of marking the occasion whenever his side score: he cuts a piece of wood from a huge tree trunk with a chainsaw. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich fans can look forward to 100 litres of free beer at the club’s end of season party for every goal the team scores at home throughout the campaign.
Meanwhile, fellow Bundesliga side SC Freiburg came up with an environmentally friendly way of celebrating their goals. In collaboration with a sponsor, the Black Forest outfit plant a tree in the region every time they find the net, something that has happened 35 times in 33 matches this term. They could even add to that tally in their final fixture of the season this weekend in their relegation six-pointer away to fellow strugglers Hannover 96. Should Freiburg win, the environment would too, and the club’s supporters could rejoice in having avoided the drop.
One of Croatian side NK Zagor’s backers likewise employed a nature-inspired approach at the third division club. He promised to give every defender a live sheep for every goal they scored. That seems to have been the perfect incentive for 29-year-old semi-professional Ivica Supe, who hit the target 16 times and now has his own sheep herd.
Another defender to have received a special goalscoring prize is Preston North End’s Scott Laird, although in his case it is more of a long-standing custom. "Every time we scored as kids, my grandmother used to give me and my brothers a pound," the full-back told BBC Somerset. "Even though I'm 26 now, I still carry that tradition on." Indeed, on 16 February earlier this year Laird put the League One side 1-0 up in their 3-1 FA Cup defeat against heavyweights Manchester United.
After the game the first person he called was his grandmother, and he even asked for more money because he had scored against a Premier League team. “She told me that wasn’t in the contract,” he said with a grin. In the end, however, she ended up giving him 27 pounds.
The second of the aforementioned two most emotional moments in football is winning a title. For sportspeople there may be nothing better than receiving a trophy and displaying it proudly, but that does not mean other incentives are not occasionally offered. For instance, an aerospace company promised to send the Dutch national team into space if they won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“Out-of-this-world achievements deserve out-of-this-world rewards,” a company spokesman said of the unusual award, the idea for which was reportedly coined after Robin van Persie’s headed goal against Spain. A somewhat less spectacular, but no less unconventional, prize was awarded to Germany’s women’s national team by the country’s football association following their maiden European Championship triumph in 1989. After the 4-1 victory over Norway in the final, every player was given a 41-piece coffee set decorated with blue, yellow and red flowers.
Times have changed since then, and if Germany are successful at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, which kicks off in just a few weeks, the players can no doubt look forward to rather different prizes.