Why Do Soccer Players Exchange Jerseys?


Swap and pose.

As the 2022 FIFA World Cup rolls on, one of the common post-game practices you might see players involved in is exchanging jerseys. 

It’s why you’ll often see a player like Neymar of Brazil hold up a Switzerland jersey after an international game, which could be the case when the two nations square off in Group G this year.

But why do soccer players exchange jerseys? Let’s dive more into it as it’ll likely be a frequent occurrence in Qatar:

Why do soccer players exchange jerseys?

When soccer players exchange jerseys, it’s usually a sign of mutual respect between the two players, similar to what we see in the NFL and NBA. 

Typically the exchanges are done by the stars on each team as a way to recognize one another after a tough battle on the pitch. 

Sometimes, though, there might be a moment where a young up-and-coming player gets to exchange his jersey with one of the renowned, established players who may have served as a role model for the youngster growing up. 

When did swapping jerseys start in soccer?

Swapping jerseys in soccer is said to have started in 1931, according to FIFA.com (h/t The New York Times). 

In a game between England and France, when Les Blues were not yet an international powerhouse, the latter came out on top 5-2 to the surprise of The Three Lions. As a result, the French players asked if they could keep England’s jerseys as a memento. The English players agreed, thus beginning the tradition. 

And according to FIFA.com, the first jersey swap at a World Cup did not take place until 1954.

Is it required for soccer players to exchange jerseys? 

No, soccer players are not required to exchange jerseys after a game. If they do, it’s because both players agreed to it and no one told them to do so. 

It might be more difficult to see two rival players exchange a jersey because of the bad blood between the teams, but if the two exchanging players are on good terms, it may happen. 

What if two teammates want to swap jerseys with the same player? 

It’s not surprising if two teammates want to swap jerseys with the same player on the opposite team. 

For example, Inter Milan’s Javier Zanetti and Marco Materazzi once tried getting Thierry Henry’s Arsenal jersey after the two sides played.

These instances could lead to debates between the teammates because Inter and Arsenal are clubs from two different countries, so the odds of them facing off on a regular basis is extremely low. 

But if two players in the same league want to exchange kits, that’s usually not a problem since players are issued fresh jerseys for every game. 

In the end, Zanetti ended up getting Henry’s kit, but it all comes down to the communication and respect between the players.

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