Edinson Cavani’s Rifle Celebration Goes Very Wrong

So, you probably heard that Edinson Cavani got sent off against Lens for a celebration he does all the time.

Well, yes and no.

The basics of the issue were that Cavani scored on a penalty, and celebrated by pulling his customary “rifle” salute – which he does all the time. Referee Nicolas Rainville (who, I must say, looks like he just stepped out of GQ) took exception and yellow carded him. No harm, really. Just a warning.


Cavani, however, was shocked that anyone would question his pretending to shoot a rifle into the opposing crowd, and grabbed the referee’s armRainville, who looked like a zombie anaconda had just wrapped itself around him, immediately pulled the second yellow.

Harsh? Hell, yes.

But here’s the deal, guys:

Yes, Cavani got sent off for doing things he and others have done before, but just because they’ve gotten away with it doesn’t mean all referees will look the other way.

The celebration – Excessive celebration is in the eyes of the referee. Guys do harmless things all the time and are yellow carded for excessive celebration. Taking off your shirt doesn’t hurt anyone (especially in the eyes of women fans) but you’ll get a yellow card for doing it. Hell, Michael Oliver just recently carded Nacer Chadli for putting his hand to his ear.

It does seem harsh, considering that Cavani’s done this before and hasn’t been called out. But it was within Rainville’s rights.

The grab – This is what Cavani was sent off for. Players should never grab or touch the referee, and if they do, they shouldn’t be surprised if he tosses their ass.

I know many referees don’t pull cards when someone touches them. I’ll never forget Milorad Mazic declining to punish an Iranian player at the World Cup who actually body checked him in anger, or Howard Webb brushing Raheem Sterling away like a pesky gnat.

So, no, many referees don’t react with a card when a player touches them, but it’s still not allowed and they can and – in my mind – should.

So, I think this is a classic case of running into a strict referee, when you’ve gotten used to lenient ones.

It doesn’t mean the referee is wrong, though.


  • Cavani did not get a second yellow; he got a yellow, followed by a straight red card for violent conduct.
    It is harsh, and I might have been more supportive of a yellow for unsporting behaviour than of a red (I don’t really see what is “violent”). That being said, Cavani must never, ever, touch the referee. He was stupid, and paid for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d have to look at it again, but I thought the intention was yellow to red.

      In theory, though, grabbing the referee could be considered violent conduct and Rainville would still be in the right. Obviously, the referee was not at all happy with the behavior.


      • Once he is grabbed, he pulls out a straight red. The yellow was for the celebration. The Ligue 1 match report states that Cavani got a yellow and a red in the same minute.


        • I’ve watched this again and I must say that this is VERY harsh. There is a touch on Rainville, and I get that that’s a no no, but it’s not much of a touch. Seems a bit of an overreaction…


          • I agree with you; however, I would have recommended a yellow card for unsporting behaviour (you cannot grab the referee, no matter how light the grab). So, in my book, Cavani was going out nonetheless.


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