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Some commentators suggest that the tradition of pre-game handshakes _ in soccer as well as other sports _ has become more trouble than it is worth and should be abandoned.

But it does at least serve to give the impression that the players have a minimum of respect for one another, for the match officials and for the rules _ even if they don’t subsequently display that on the field. It also reminds everyone, not least the excessively tribal soccer fans, that this is sport, not conflict. And all of that makes this tradition a worthwhile one.

If Ferdinand is still harboring a grudge, so be it. Refusing to shake hands with Terry and Cole would telegraph that. But would it say much more? No.

That was also true of Wayne Bridge’s refusal in 2010 to shake the hand of Terry. That was after newspapers reported that Chelsea’s captain had an affair with Bridge’s former partner, Vanessa Perroncel. Bridge perhaps felt that he made a point by studiously ignoring Terry’s outstretched right hand, but what that point was exactly was never clear. Terry surely didn’t lose sleep over it.

Hughes and Roberto Mancini, the manager of English champion Manchester City, also looked silly when they had a handshake spat in February last year. After their teams drew 1-1, Mancini pointedly didn’t look at Hughes as he extended his hand. Hughes took offense and snatched his own hand away.

“I am little bit old-fashioned,” Hughes said. “Maybe I misread it, but I just felt Roberto didn’t really acknowledge the efforts of my team and how well we’d done by the manner of the way he offered his hand.”

It was all very petty. That is often the case when sportsmen make mountains out of handshakes. Shaking hands can reflect well on them. It at least can make them look like adults capable of putting personal differences aside for the duration of a game or able to graciously accept defeat _ even if they are seething inside.

But, often, making an issue of what really is a token gesture can make them look small-minded.

So get on with it.

Shake. Move on.


John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at) or follow him at