Do Footballers Wear the Same Kit Twice?

A strong case can be made for the average joe when it comes to choosing to wear the same outfit twice or even three times within a week.

Now although body perspiration has to be accounted for with things like a fresh vest, clean underwear and a new pair of socks, the decision to don a t-shirt or a trouser that was already worn on the previous day is largely acceptable within various cultures throughout the world.

The common reasoning behind this is…

If an item of clothing is devoid of any stains, unpleasant smelling odours and is generally considered clean enough for another wear, then it’s okay to put on for a second or even a third time at a push.

But have you ever thought about whether your favourite soccer stars sport the same athletic attire for each competitive game?

Well, I have!

And from my research findings I managed to make a significant discovery.

Players generally wear football kits repeatedly, as kit men are employed by clubs to launder and recondition them after each game. However, sometimes player jerseys are only worn on a single occasion due to factors like shirt swapping with opponents; giving them to fans as souvenirs or even choosing to donate them to local or international charities.


What happens to player jerseys after matches?

With that said, let’s take a more precise look at the different journeys a football kit can take once a match is finished.

If you’re strapped for time, watch the video below which gives a short 3-minute-long summary of the topic at hand.


1. Kit laundry

Former professional Graeme Le Saux provided his own personal account on football kit use within the game to The Guardian in 2013.

He recalled that after matches were played during his time in the Premier League, all he would have to do is throw his dirty kit on the floor in the dressing room and a kit man employed by the club would take it away for washing.

The former Chelsea and England national team player also gave a recollection on his stint at Blackburn Rovers in the 1990s.

He mentioned that due to the relatively smaller financial stature of the club, he and his team mates were forced to take their training kits home – in football kit bags – for personal washes after each session.

It’s also now pretty common for players to have two or three pairs of kit for a single game – one for each half plus an extra spare in case of emergencies.

Once these kits are cleaned and ironed, they are also checked for minor damage and if any small tears are spotted, the kit man simply stitches these up one at a time.


2. Charity donations

Footballers are some of the most publicly sought-after professionals within the world that we live in today.

Lots of young people look up to players as idols and role models, and are often filled with a lot of excitement when they receive a sporting object that previously belonged to one of these widely acclaimed stars.

This is why footballers sometimes choose to donate their jerseys or shorts to local charities either by themselves or through official channels at the club that they represent.

A great example of this took place in the year 2020, when 500 Premier League players chose to donate signed shirts as part of a campaign in the United Kingdom to raise money for National Health Service (NHS) charities.


3. Swapping with opponents

do footballers wear the same kit twice - jersey swap with opposition

If you watch matches play out until the very end, you will have undoubtedly noticed that footballers sometimes exchange jerseys with their opponents at full-time.

Once the referee blows his whistle, players are usually seen removing their own shirts and trading them with members of the opposition.

However, it is not an act that is universally accepted across all football teams.

At one point, Manchester United’s club leadership discouraged their own players from shirt swapping in a bid to save money, as they pointed towards the cost-ineffectiveness of the habit.


4. Public auctions

As footballers are massive public figures, they are able to spring themselves into the media limelight with relative ease.

Sometimes, they are known to sell their previously worn kits as cherished memorabilia on various online marketplaces.

One of the best examples of this happened recently when Manchester City midfielder İlkay Gündoğan auctioned the shirt he wore in the Champions League first leg tie against Borussia Dortmund, to help raise surgery funding for a young girl that was battling a rare skeletal disorder.


5. Tossing towards fans

Lastly, footballers occasionally give up their shirts to their club’s own fanbase.

When a match concludes, it’s not a rare spectacle to see a player running or slowly jogging over to the touchline where a section of fans still reside and giving a young child or teenager the jersey that they wore during the game.

In some cases, fans come to the stadium ground prepared with a written placard indicating that they would like to have a particular player’s shirt after the game as a souvenir.


Final thoughts

Football players who represent clubs competing at the upper echelons of the game typically wear their kits only once, due to the fact that these teams receive a huge amount of shirt donation requests from local charities. Additionally, there are numerous instances where such players swap shirts with their opponents after matches have concluded.

However, the aforementioned scenarios don’t always play out on a weekly basis, particularly with clubs in the lower league divisions of football.

This is because kit men are employed to collect and launder the worn shirts and shorts, as well as recondition them for re-use in future fixtures.

Samuel Waihenya
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