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Do Soccer Goalies Wear Cups?

Do Soccer Goalies Wear Cups?

It is no secret that soccer players face various injuries in the course of their careers. Soccer in itself is a competitive sport that involves a lot of physical contact among the players.

Live television and modern images enable fans to see it all. The wild tackles, body charges, jumping, heading and awkward falls can all contribute to injuries in soccer.

In fact, there are leagues in soccer that have highly notorious physical players such as the Italian league popularly known as Serie A, where the emphasis has been mainly on defending.

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On a good day, a soccer player can get away with a minor scratch, knock or muscle cramp that they can easily recover from.

On a more severe scale, soccer players can suffer torn ACL or even worse, a skull fracture. No fan, even from the opposition, wants to see a player stretched off after a nasty injury. It is sad to see a soccer player’s career altered because of an injury.

In 2008, Arsenal’s Eduardo da Silva was the victim of a horrific tackle from Birmingham’s Martin Taylor. The disturbing images showed Eduardo’s leg almost forming a shape that almost resembled the ‘number 7’ from the upper side of the ankle.

It is in these kinds of moments that all stakeholders from the soccer players, fans, kit manufacturers and even club owners think critically about safety in the sport. Rules are also being revised periodically to help contain the use of physicality up to an acceptable level.

Due to the nature of soccer, many players are at risk of incurring different injuries. One of the most painful injuries is in the groin area. It could happen when a player is running or when they are hit by the ball.

When this happens, it is common to see players either go to the ground writhing in pain or hold the groin area in an attempt to shake it off.

It begs the question, what can be done to mitigate such injuries? Soccer players have shin guards to protect their legs against any contact with studs from the opposition players.

In some cases, soccer players wear different forms of face and head gear to mitigate the damage done from a previous injury. Think of Petr Cech, the former Chelsea goalkeeper who made headgear famous after donning the rugby-style scrum headgear from 2006 to 2019.

What other forms of protection do goalkeepers have? What about cups? Do goalkeepers need cups as part of their equipment? Let’s look at answering all these questions.

Cups are a form of protective gear worn by male athletes in the groin region. They are typically made of hard plastic or softer plastic to protect the reproductive organs from harm that may occur during matches.

Cups are more common in sports like baseball, cricket, field hockey and ice hockey. The speed at which the balls used move and the hard materials they are made of, make it imperative for athletes to wear cups.

Do soccer goalies wear cups?

Soccer players do not wear cups inside their shorts. Goalkeepers, who are accorded additional protection in soccer, do not wear cups when between the goal posts.

Imagine a match situation where a soccer ball is kicked at speeds that average 40 miles/hour. This could cause serious injury to a player when it hits them on any part of the body.

the player is kicking the ball

What about when the same ball hits the sensitive groin regions? It could prove to be too painful to bear.

Even though cups offer more safety to athletes, goalkeepers do not typically wear them for a number of reasons such as:

  1. It limits movement

Due to the nature of cups, they may limit player movement. Remember, soccer players including goalkeepers are required to move about in the field and sometimes dash from the 18-yard box to clear the ball.

Cups restrain that free movement that makes goalkeepers perform in-game tasks such as jumping. Additionally, it affects other aspects of play such as how they kick the ball.

  1. It is not common

Soccer players generally do not have that kind of protection. The most common type of protection for soccer players that is mandatory is shin guards. This is clearly outlined in the FIFA equipment rules.

some soccer equipment on the field

Shin guards are worn before being covered by socks as extra protection to the front part of the legs. Cups are not found in the equipment policies and guidelines laid out for individual players.

Which professional soccer player would want to be the talking point of the whole world by being the only player to wear cups in a match? Some may view them as weak.

What soccer players do is to cover their groin area with both hands during a set piece such as a free kick. This is an accepted practice and in the event the ball hits the arm, the players will not be penalized when protecting their sensitive area during a set piece.

Should soccer goalies wear cups?

To answer this, we have to look at how the game is played and the risk factor to goalkeepers. Because of the nature of the sport, it is not recommended for a professional goalkeeper to wear cups.


I mean, who would want a goalkeeper whose movement, flexibility and overall reactions are delayed as a result of having this protective gear? Wouldn’t they be more susceptible to making errors that lead to goals?

It is not too common for a goalkeeper to be hit in the groin area by a ball. Outfield players such as those defending set pieces and shots are more likely to face this than goalkeepers.

On the flip side, cups would really offer goalkeepers that priceless protection for their reproductive area. Remember that damage caused by a ball or otherwise in that region could have severe consequences on their ability to reproduce.

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Protection of our athletes in particular goalkeepers is something that should be given utmost importance and thought as discussions on how to better improve soccer going forward continue.

At this point and time, the use of cups as protective gear can be detrimental towards the performance of soccer players including goalkeepers.

In the 2000s, we did not have video technology to review live pictures and help referees in decisions but we have that today. Maybe as we go along into the future and more study as well as innovation continue, we may see changes in protection for goalkeepers.

We do not know how soccer would look like in the next 10, 15 or 20 years. When it comes to goalkeepers wearing cups, the first stage would be ideally testing to see how it fits and make recommendations that may or may not be adopted. But as they say, never say never!