David Luiz scored an important and unexpected goal, helping his team advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League despite being a man down for 90 minutes. Naturally, he celebrated that goal, expressing the pure joy that we all chase, but experience far too rarely. And since this all happened to occur while he was facing his former club and doing so in their stadium, he ended up apologizing for his celebration. Because we live in a miserable world where people feel compelled to apologize for expressions of happiness.
Prior to facing Chelsea for the first time since leaving the club for an obscene £50 million that they happily accepted, Luiz said, “If I score against Chelsea I won’t celebrate out of respect, but of course I would be happy.” But then it actually happened, and in supremely dramatic fashion. So when PSG’s incredible comeback was complete and the euphoria subsided to manageable levels, Luiz apologized. Not for elbowing Diego Costa in the face. For celebrating his goal.
From ESPN FC:
“I said before I didn’t celebrate but there was so much emotion I cannot control and sorry because I celebrated because of the emotion but I am so happy to qualify.”
This is a man who endured the misery of captaining Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup last summer (which he also apologized for). And now that he’s done something positive — something that will be remembered as a great moment in PSG’s history — he feels compelled to apologize for that too, since large and vocal segments of the press and fans of the game have decided to villainize joy.
Luiz’s apology and others like it are widely hailed as a classy show of class, and they are, but they really just demonstrate how much more emotionally mature these players are than many of the people who scrutinize their every move. It’s possible to respect a former club and still express one’s happiness after scoring against them. In fact, it’s not only possible, it’s a natural part of competition. For that to not be clear to anyone over the age of four is disturbing. And yet, here we are.
If the pandering to these people doesn’t end, the game is going to be reduced to a drab and robotic series of actions carried out by players who closely guard their emotions in the hopes of avoiding tiresome outrage and endless groveling. That’s not fun. And football is supposed to be fun. Even when you score against your old club.