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What is a ‘guard of honor’ in soccer? When do teams do it?

After being crowned Premier League champions Manchester City can expect a round of applause from Chelsea players at the Etihad Stadium.

What is a guard of honor?

Manchester City host Chelsea on Sunday in their first match since being crowned Premier League champions. Pep Guardiola’s side secured the title without kicking a ball on Saturday after Arsenal lost against Nottingham Forest.

Chelsea are expected to give City a guard of honor at the Etihad Stadium to mark their title win.

A guard of honour is often given as a show of respect after the opposing team have won a trophy. The team giving a guard of honour arrange themselves in two parallel lines, allowing the winning team to walk between them and receive a round of applause.

In Spain the practice is referred to as a pasillo, or a ‘corridor’. On Saturday, hours after City’s third consecutive Premier League title was confirmed, Real Sociedad gave LaLiga winners Barcelona a guard of honor at Camp Nou.

Notorious guard of honor incidents

The guard of honor is a symbol of respect towards the victorious team, one that is designed to demonstrate the sporting spirit, regardless of rivalries.

In 2020 there was some uncertainty as to whether Manchester City would perform a guard of honor for Liverpool, who had recently been crowned Premier League champions.

“We are going to do the guard of honour, of course,” Guardiola said at the time.

“Always we receive Liverpool, when they came to our house, in an incredible way. They cannot complain. Of course we are going to do it because they deserve it.”

But in the tense world of high level football that attitude is not always on show.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville compared giving a guard of honor to Chelsea in 2005 to being forced to help your ex-partner move in with their new lover.

“[It’s like] being asked to hang the new bloke’s clothes up in your old wardrobe,” Neville famously remarked.

In Spain Real Madrid broke with tradition by refusing to give Barcelona a guard of honor in 2018 after lifting the title. Then-Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane claimed that Barcelona has previously failed to give the champions a pasillo and that his team would not be marking Barça’s win.

“On the notion of a guard of honour, I wouldn’t do it for anyone, nor would I want it to be done for us,” Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde said at the time. “It has now lost the essence that it had a few years ago.”


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