Kissing the badge is one of the most hideous clichés of modern football. But that doesn’t stop players puckering up and planting a smacker on the crest in desperate displays of cloying insincerity.
Obviously, you have to be terminally stupid not to realise the striker drooling on a jersey and beating his chest as if he trying to stave off an imminent cardiac arrest is just as likely to be making the same display of lifelong loyalty at another club in a season or two.
So why, every time this laughable minipantomime happens, does one end of the ground erupt in fury, while the other comes over all sentimental: ‘Look, he’s kissing our badge, he must love the club like we do’? Wrong on both counts.
Ask football supporters what they think of the whole badge kissing routine and practically every single one of them will profess to see it as a cringeworthy embarrassment nothing more.
But have a look at the crowd the next time a player does it.
You’ll see widespread adulation for the individual snogging his shirt from his own supporters, no matter that he has kissed more synthetic material over the years than Pamela Anderson’s collected boyfriends.
We invest all sorts of emotion in our football clubs and deceive ourselves that the players somehow feel the same sense of loyalty and duty.
We assume they share our passions and that the name of our Beloved FC is tattooed on their heart.
The truth is different. Most feel as much loyalty to the club badge they are pecking at oh-so-theatrically for the cameras as they do to the logo of the kit manufacturer stamped alongside.
But when they move clubs, supporters still brand them as traitors.
Effigies are hung from lampposts. Internet forums crackle with misplaced disgust.
True supporters stick with one club through thick and thin; they make a lifelong commitment. For players it’s just a job.
If you worked for Microsoft and Apple said they would double your money, throw in some foreign travel opportunities and even a little worldwide fame, you’d be out the door.
But if a player flies the nest, he is cast as Judas.
A few top names have found a home where they do not have to sacrifice their long-term alliances in pursuit of a bigger stage or salary.
So if Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and a few other notables want to kiss the badge, fair enough.
They’ve remained one-club men and are lucky enough to be in a position where they don’t have to break away to progress.
But if you see anyone else puckering up, don’t bother to get angry. Just blow them a kiss.
Written by Des Kelly for The Daily Mail. Read the article in full.