In March 2003, the FIFA Executive Committee finalised a series of Fair Play initiatives. At the meeting, an official post-match handshake procedure was adopted, a new Fair Play slogan was approved and a concrete date was set for 2003’s FIFA Fair Play Day.

For football’s world governing body, the decision to introduce a mass handshake at the end of each match is seen as a step towards injecting a greater sense of Fair Play into the beautiful game. The grand gesture will be incorporated into all FIFA final tournaments with immediate effect.

Hands across the sea
At all FIFA events, the teams and match officials enter the field of play according to a choreographed procedure, which includes the players from both teams and the match officials shaking hands. However, there is no set procedure once the final whistle has gone.

For FIFA, there is something missing – an appropriate and dignified end to the proceedings. Once the battle on the pitch is over, the teams and match officials will now come together again and officially end the match by way of a handshake – a gesture of mutual respect in the true spirit of the game.

This will bring the match full-circle from beginning to end. And the players will also be sending a positive signal to the fans in the stands: despite a hard battle, friendship and fair play have been maintained. The procedure acts as a way for the players to thank their opponents, the fans, and match officials for a good match played within the Laws of the Game. And once it is over, everyone leaves together, in many ways, as one.

FIFA also sees a further welcome side effect – the approximately two-minute procedure will provide a cooling-off period for tempers frayed by the game. It will have a positive effect on early television interviews that often take place immediately after the final whistle. Having had a chance to calm down, there will be less danger of a player saying something in the heat of the moment that he might later regret as it may tarnish the image of football.

The official procedure, slogan, and FIFA Fair Play Day
After the final whistle goes, the match officials will meet in the centre circle. They will then signal for the teams to join them. The team captains will ensure that each member of the squad lines up behind him/her, and will then begin the handshake proper. Each player will also shake hands with the match officials. Following the ceremony, the players will wave to the fans and leave the pitch with the match officials.

The FIFA Executive Committee also approved the use of a new slogan: “My Game is Fair Play”. The slogan will be translated into many languages and appear at all FIFA final tournaments in various forms, including stadium advertising boards and television commercials.

This year’s FIFA Fair Play Day will be held on 27 – 28 September to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup China PR 2003.