Soccer is arguably the only contact sport where the athletes wear minimum protective gear. In football, you will see the players with helmets and shoulder pads.
The appearance is similar in hockey and amateur boxing. In the latter, the boxers wear mouth guards in addition to helmets.
Soccer balls are often projected at a very high speed. Likewise, soccer players often raise their legs to very dangerous heights.
Therefore, the first thing that will likely come to the mind of a prospective soccer player that is conscious about safety is whether soccer players wear cups.
A cup is a piece of hard plastic designed to fit into the pants of males and the sole purpose is to protect the male reproductive organ. Call it a helmet for the private parts and you won’t be wrong.
Protective cups are often called jockstraps and are worn in the groin under the athlete’s clothes. Cups are mostly made of firm foam material (usually a blend of polyester and cotton) and come with an adjustable waistband to improve fit and comfort.
Cups are usually comfortable and have enough space to allow the player to move around. But, if it is really comfortable, how come they seem unpopular among soccer players?
Do soccer players wear cups? If they don’t, what could possibly be their reason notwithstanding that cup can be a lifesaver in the face of an accidental hit on the male organ?
Still wondering if soccer players wear cups? You will find all the answers in the subsequent paragraphs.
Do soccer players wear cups?
Since soccer is a contact sport, soccer players often encounter brute force that can cause severe harm to their genitals if they are not properly protected. A fast-moving ball or a hard kick with the boots can lead to blunt trauma injury when it hits the groin area in boys.
From internal bleeding to severe bruise and testicular rupture, a lot can go wrong during an impact in this area. If a testicular rupture or torsion (a rare medical condition where the testicles twist against each other) is not treated immediately, they can lead to the loss of the testicles.
Medical experts recommend cups for all boys—regardless of their age—that are into contact sports like hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer, and football. Obviously, the wearing of cups can only come up for male soccer players.
Inasmuch as males and females can wear cups, females don’t have testicles that can be damaged upon contact, so, they don’t need cups. But, what does the soccer regulatory body say about wearing cups?
The only protective gear that is compulsory for soccer players to wear according to the Law of the Game is shin guards. Since cups are not compulsory, you will rarely see soccer players wearing them—but there are still a handful of players that wear them.
Instead of cups, soccer players prefer jockstraps, tight underwear and depend on their instincts to protect their genitals. That is why you will see most soccer players covering their genitals after forming a wall during a freekick.
In 2017, a Spanish second division soccer player was kicked by a teammate in the groin area and had to receive 10 stitches on his penis. This kind of ugly incident would have been prevented if the soccer player was wearing a cup.
Soccer goalkeepers are usually more prone to wearing cups because their position exposes them to more direct hits from either players or the ball. Therefore, they stand a higher chance of sustaining testicular injuries than other soccer players.
So, if cups are that important, why don’t soccer players wear them? We have a few ideas that may justify the ditching of this protective gear by soccer players.
Why don’t soccer players wear cups?
Although cups are not part of the team kits, we are yet to hear that any soccer player was sent off the pitch by match officials for wearing one. As long as a wearable doesn’t cause harm to the player or other players, match officials will allow them—and we don’t think that cups are a threat to other players.
Ask different soccer players why they don’t wear cups and you would likely get a flurry of answers. Inasmuch as soccer is a beautiful game, the male productive organ will always be at risk of injury unless it has adequate protection.
Even when the ball is not kicked hard to cause a serious injury, the pain of an impact to the scrotum is second to none. A soft cup, at least, can be enough to shield you from the pain or the risk of permanent injury during such impacts.
So, can any reason be good enough to justify the non-wearing of cups by soccer players? See some of the common reasons why soccer players ignore cups regardless of their perceived advantages and judge for yourself if the reasons are good enough or not.
1. Restricts movement
When it comes to soccer, freedom of movement is golden. In fact, the success of any soccer player hugely depends on how fast they can wriggle away or outrun their opponents.
No other sport requires the participants to move their hips, legs, and groin as much as soccer. Therefore, every additional gear worn by a soccer player (especially around the groin) can negatively impact their movement.
Cups can potentially cause discomfort when the player makes certain movements or even restrict them from making certain movements. Cups, even the soft ones, can lower the speed of a soccer player on the pitch, giving the opposing players an unfair advantage against the player wearing the cup.
If you notice, some soccer players wear ridiculously small shin guards—notwithstanding that it is the only protective gear mandated by law. Their reason is that the longer ones often cause discomfort when they run.
If soccer players think shin guards limit their performance, how much more vile they will think cups are. Generally, soccer players love to keep themselves as light as possible when they are on the pitch in order to maximize their potential.
2. Avoiding stereotype
A lot about not wearing cups in soccer boils down to stereotypical masculinity in the sport. Imagine how you would feel if you show up in the stadium only to discover that you are the only one wearing cups.
Surely, that would make you look like a weakling, right? Soccer players often resort to playing dirty to dampen the spirit of their opponents making it harder for them to concentrate on the game.
When your opponents discover that you are wearing cups, you may become the target for bullying from the opposing team—especially if you are their most dreaded opponent. It is harder to play soccer when you are not in control of your emotions.
Every soccer player knows this, which is why they try to avoid any circumstance that may make it easier for their opponents to target them.
3. Ignorance of the importance of cups
We cannot deny the fact that a lot of soccer players don’t use cups simply because they are not aware of their existence or importance. Many soccer players will only get to know about cups when they have suffered from a blow to their groin.
If there is improved sensitization on the importance of the use of cups among male athletes, we should see an increase in the number of soccer players making use of it.
4. It is not a trend yet
Many soccer players are good at following trends. One player shows up with a bandana today and many more will imitate the next day.
No doubt, a lot of our actions today are dictated by trends since no one wants to be left behind—and soccer players are not immune. If the wearing of cups becomes a trend today, many soccer players will jump on it.
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5. Taking a hit to the groin is rare
Taking a hit to the groin is very rare and this rarity is why the majority of soccer players don’t consider wearing cups important—just yet.
If there ever comes a time when every single game records two or three players taken out because of testicular injury, many soccer players will have a rethink.
If soccer players have no problem wearing bandanas, bras, or compression shorts, which are not protective gears, they should not have any problem wearing cups that are protective.
However, soccer players can argue that the aforementioned wearables do not affect their performance in any way. While most soccer players don’t wear cups, most of them wear jockstraps.
However, jockstrap alone is not effective in preventing blunt injury to the groin. Players that decide to wear cups should always consider their protective quality—and this boils down to the material the cup is made of.
The combination of a jockstrap and cup is usually more effective in protecting the groin area than the use of either of them alone. Some players will wear more than one cup at a time for extra protection albeit it may come with additional discomfort.
To minimize discomfort when wearing this protective gear, it is important to find the size that fits you perfectly. Silicone gel cups are usually more comfortable without sacrificing the level of protection they offer.
Nevertheless, don’t blame soccer players that refuse to wear cups because the most effective of them all is usually made of hard plastic which is usually uncomfortable. Most soccer players will never use cups in their careers after their first try.
Whether you wear a cup or not as a soccer player, it is paramount that you take steps to prevent direct hits in your groin area. You should always be alert and anticipate hits either from the ball or from another player—and use your hands as a shield when necessary.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!