Football Myths – Part 2: I’m the Captain

Posted: May 5, 2014 by thirdblindmouse in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Patrice Evra, Giorgos Karagounis, Steven Gerrard, Philipp Lahm, Fabio Cannavaro, Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, and Lucio….What do they all have in common?

They are all, or have been, the captain of their respective national teams!  But, what does that really mean?  Does being the captain really give you any special privileges or powers?  Is the football captain’s role really as important as it seems?  Yes and no – It all depends on what aspect of the game you are talking about.

Although many sports choose a team captain, given the free-flowing nature of the game, the role is particularly vital in football.

Unlike basketball coaches, football managers do not have the luxury of calling a timeout when their teams need to stop and regroup.

American football coaches can send a sub into the huddle, armed with a new play, but football managers are limited to just three substitutions for the entire match—even if it goes into extra time.

So they put their faith in the team captain, also known as a “skipper.”

To borrow a term from its American counterpart, a football captain is a lot like a quarterback.

Although the coach is ultimately calling the shots from the sidelines, it’s up to the captain to inspire the other players on the field and make any necessary on-the-fly adjustments (since the manager cannot call a timeout).  (

But, this blog is not about everyday, run-of-the-mill football talk.  NO!  This blog is about the Laws of the Game and how they apply in our everyday situations.  So, the question is this…under FIFA’s Laws of the Game, does a captain have any special powers or privileges which give him the right to question referee’s calls, or pretty much do whatever they want on the field of play?

It’s all too often that us referee make a call and all of a sudden there is a furry of players starting to swarm, each giving their own opinion and interpretation of the incident in question.  What usually transpires is the referee telling all the players to just get lost and get on with the game and then one lone players continues dissenting and usually says something like “but ref, I’m the captain…can you at least listen to what I have to say and explain it to me?”  The answer….NO!!!!  You’re not special!!! Although you have a degree of responsibility for your teams demeanor and behaviour while on the FOP, in no way do you have any special powers that allow you to dissent any time you feel hard done by.

Law 12 states that “A player who is guilty of dissent by protesting (verbally or non-verbally) against a referee’s decision must be cautioned.”  

It goes further to specify that “The captain of a team has no special status or privileges under the Laws of the Game but he has a degree of responsibility for the behaviour of his team.”  (FIFA LOTG – Interpretations: p. 124)

Where do captains everywhere get the idea that they are above the law, and that they can say or do anything they want?  Does that little armband come with special powers?  The power of self entitlement, maybe!  Listen to me football captains of the world…all that little arm band is good for is to stop your blood from circulating properly…that’s all!!!  I don’t care that you’re the captain…I wouldn’t care if you were the pope, the president, Allah, Jesus, or God himself…on the FOP, the referee is the law and I’m sorry to tell you but, the truth hurts – YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL!!!

Happy Whistling!

The Third Blind Mouse

  1. Scot Woods says:

    Good post. This is a myth strongly reinforced by referees ourselves. And in some ways, developing that avenue of communication with the captain is good game managment. I freely admit that I’m going to take more time to address concerns from the captain than from other players, provided it’s polite, inquiring and sincere. Does this encourage some players to think that captains have “special” rights? Perhaps, but at times it has been very useful to hear from a captain something like, “You’re calling this game really tight.” It helps me gauge the team’s mood, and may help guide how I manage the match. I’ve also spoken to captains to reinforce a verbal warning given to a player, or warn them that a teammate is on the verge of a caution — the captain can be a powerful ally to keep a game on a positive vibe. This never means the captain’s above the law, of course. But when there’s a controversy, it’s good game management to explain a decision to the captain. If you want match control, making calls the players don’t understand undermines your authority.


Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s