World Cup 2018: The truth about Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration and Jose Fonte staying on the pitch

Jack de Menezes

Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliant free-kick to draw Portugal’s opening World Cup 2018 encounter with rivals Spain football sparked wild celebrations among his teammates – except one of them.

As the rest of the Portuguese team rushed to congratulate Ronaldo on his hat-trick-securing goal in the 88th minute last Friday, former Southampton and West Ham defender Jose Fonte chose not to join in with the celebrations.


With the footage going viral on social media since the Group B encounter, many theories have emerged trying to explain what has happened. The main one suggests that Fonte stays on the field of play to prevent Spain from taking a quick restart while the Portuguese are still celebrating, giving them a potential 10-on-one chance against goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

It’s been claimed that one outfield player is needed on the pitch to prevent this, but it simply isn’t true.

Neither is the claim that by standing in the opposition’s half the restart is prevented. If Fonte had been off the field joining his teammates, the restart could still not take place.

This scenario is addressed in Fifa’s Laws of the Game under Law 8, which lays out the regulations regarding the start and restart of play.

Under Fifa’s laws, a restart can be taken once all of the following parameters are met:

  • after a team scores a goal, the kick-off is taken by the other team.
  • all players must be in their own half of the field of play
  • the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play
  • the ball must be stationary on the centre mark
  • the referee gives a signal
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
  • the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player

That all the outfield players are off the field of play plays no part in allowing a restart, the simple matter of fact is that all 11 players (or fewer if players have been sent-off previously) must be inside their own half before the referee allows the restart to be taken.

So while Fonte may have thought that by staying on the pitch he was preventing the restart – particularly as one of his teammates appeared to gesture for him to remain in the field of play – it had little bearing on the restart.

Nearly all the Portugal players rushed over to celebrate Ronaldo's equaliser - nearly all of them (Getty)

One past incident in which a team was caught out though came in the 2015 Uefa Development Tournament between Gibraltar Under-16s and their Macedonian counterparts. After Macedonia scored, all 11 players ran back to their own half to celebrate with their teammates on the bench. However, with the players still on the pitch, the referee deemed the rules for a restart to have been met, and Gibraltar ran through and scored what proved to be the winning goal.

Watch the video below...

With Ronaldo leading the World Cup Golden Boot so far, Fonte should keep it in mind that the next time the Portuguese have reason to celebrate he can join in the celebrations without fearing any repercussions at the other end of the pitch.