Guard of Honor has been a very special tradition, especially in the military. In the United States, it is known as an honor guard and in the United Kingdom, it is known as a guard of honor.
In the military, the tradition is used to honor fallen heroes, a practice which is mostly referred to as a guard of honor of the wounded soldier. The practice is also used in military ceremonies and in most countries as a means of welcoming high-profile official guests from other countries.
Historians believe that the guard of honor began at the cross of Calvary during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Then, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John, and Saint Mary Magdalene stood by the abandoned Cross when the Heart of Christ was pierced by the lance. In Catholicism, it is known as a guard of the sacred heart.
What is the Guard of Honor in soccer
In soccer, a guard of honor is a tradition reserved mostly for winners of soccer competitions. It is just a conventional way of showing respect to a winning side either after a tournament or on the first match involving the club that has just been confirmed champions of the league.
How the honor guard is used in soccer
- To show respect for winners of a tournament before they are handed the trophy:
After a final of a tournament like the FIFA World Cup final, UEFA Champions League final, etc., the players of the losing team in the final are expected to form a corridor on the path that leads to the podium where the trophy will be handed to the winners.
The players of the winning team are expected to walk through the corridor while the players of the losing team applaud them.
2. Before the first game after a club has been named champion:
In leagues like the Premier League and the Spanish La Liga, the first club that plays the winners of the league is expected to form a corridor through which the new winners will pass through to enter the pitch. The players of the club are expected to applaud the league champions as they make their way through the corridor.
3. Before testimonial games or to honor special achievers
Before the kick of a testimonial game, a guard of honor could be mounted for the person the testimonial game was organized for. The two teams for the testimonial game are expected to form a corridor through which the celebrant will walk while they applaud him.
In 2013, Manchester United’s legendary coach, Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed this kind of privilege when he took charge of his last game in charge of the Premier League club which was against Swansea.
Is it compulsory?
A team or a soccer club is not bounded by any law to participate in a guard of honor. It is a matter of choice and no one is expected to be forced to participate in the tradition.
It is believed that Manchester United started the culture in soccer in 1955 when they decided to carry out one in honor of Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola’s two-time title winners give a Guard of Honor to the newest Premier League champions. 👏 pic.twitter.com/3fMAAHm9WM— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) July 2, 2020
Has any team or club refused to participate in it?
There are no rampant cases of clubs refusing to participate in the guard of honor. However, the biggest incident in which a club refused to carry out a guard of honor happened in Spanish La Liga in 2018.
In the said year, when FC Barcelona were confirmed champions of the Spanish La Liga before their league game against Real Madrid, the Madrid team refused to carry out an honor guard as a sign of respect for the league champions.
Recall that FC Barcelona reportedly started the culture in Spanish La Liga in May 2008 when they decided to carry it out after Real Madrid were confirmed champions of La Liga in the 2007-2008 season.
But in December 2017, Barca refused to carry it out again for Real Madrid when Madrid won the FIFA Club World Cup days before they played against Barca. Hence, Madrid paid them back in 2018.
What is the most controversial guard of honor in the history of soccer
One of the most controversial guards of honor was the one Arsenal had to give to Manchester United during the 2012-2013 season after winning the Premier League title.
It became a big controversy because the summer before the season commenced, Robin van Persie who was Arsenal’s best player then decided to force his way out of the club to join Manchester United.
Then, the news was that van Persie left Arsenal because he wanted to win titles which he did in his first season at Manchester United. Hence, both Arsenal’s players and the club’s fans were not happy that they have to carry out a guard of honor in honor of Van Persie and United.
As the guard of honor was going on, Arsenal’s fans at the stadium booed Van Persie which was a scenario that has never been seen in the history of the culture.