Deconstructing celebratory acts following goal scoring among elite professional football players

Assaf Lev, Yair Galily, Omer Eldadi, Gershon Tenenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Goal celebration in sport is mostly spontaneous and is manifested via vocal expressions and bodily gestures aimed at communicating emotions. The aim of this study is to deconstruct the celebratory acts among elite professional football players in the European Champions League following scoring a goal, and to capture the multiple acts and functions of the celebrations. In examining the 2018/19 season of the European Champions League tournament, we draw attention to the players’ celebrations and their corresponding social and individual functions. All goals/celebrations (K = 366) were used for the analyses. To analyze the goal celebration acts, a socio-psychological model was established which is comprised of several theories. To describe the goal celebration acts across the competition stages (e.g., preliminary and final), match location (i.e., home or away), time phase (0–15, 15–45, 45–75, 75–90, 90+ minutes), scoring mode (i.e., prior to the goal, after the goal), and players’ continent origin (Europe, Africa, Asia, South/Central, and North America), the number and percent of all the celebratory acts were counted and presented in their respective mode (i.e., single, double, and team). The main findings indicate that (a) most of the goal celebration acts were performed interactively by the scoring player and his teammates, (b) the interactive modes of celebration lasted longer than the modes which were performed non-interactively, (c) the celebration lasted longer following goal scoring in the final stage than in the preliminary stage, (d) the celebration duration lasted the longest time when the goal was scored during the overtime phase (90+ min) of the final but not the preliminary stage, and (e) players from Africa and South America demonstrated religious acts more than their European counterparts. We assert that our conceptual model enables the categorization of a variety of personal and social meanings to the celebrations on the field during the most thrilling moments of the game.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0238702
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


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