Why Do Soccer Players Trade Jerseys?

After a hard-fought match, soccer players stand around on the field and end up talking to their teammates, as well as the opposition. As long as no controversy goes on in the middle of a match, it is usually a pretty cordial time. In fact, there is one particularly friendly ritual, and new fans of the game might not know exactly what is going on at first.

Why do soccer players trade jerseys? The tradition of soccer players trading jerseys started in the 1930s. It is a sign of respect and sportsmanship. Players will exchange jerseys after a clean, fair match, and individual players can have their reasons why they pick someone. Many players end up collecting all the different jerseys.

Sportsmanship In Soccer

After a grueling 90 minutes on the pitch, there is usually a winner or a loser. That means that one side feels much better than the other, but that does not mean that there has to be any animosity after the whistle.

The exchange of jerseys is a way to show respect and sportsmanship. Players do this exchange at all levels, and as one might expect, the most talented players are the most coveted jerseys out there. The player who gets an opportunity to exchange jerseys with the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are likely cherishing that jersey for the rest of life.

Even the top players in the game also love exchanging jerseys. They might not be building a collection of players quite on their level, but it is a way to reminisce about some of the best battles.

For example, Messi has one of the best collections in the game right now, and he shows it off in social media circles quite a bit. It becomes a memorable part of their career, and they can even go back and build out a closet or a room to display everything.

Occasionally, players will also use the jersey exchange down the road to help with some type of funding. Exchanged jerseys have popped up in charity events, and they even have been sold off by players who struggle later on financially. Although it is sad to see players struggling, it is a way for fans to get an opportunity to collect match-worn gear.

Who Started The Jersey Exchange Trend?

The story goes that when France finally beat England for the first time in 1931, the winning side wanted to exchange jerseys to have as keepsakes. Even though France was the better team that day, England was known for their legendary soccer status. England showed that they were a good sport that day, and went along with the exchange.

After losing 5-2, most of those English players were not in the best of moods. They could very easily deny this exchange and go on with their lives. In many ways, that set the tone for changes in today’s world as well. Players might not necessarily be happy after a loss, but refusing to exchange jerseys can make a player look bad.

Do Teams Always Exchange Jerseys?

As long as the match goes without incident, chances are they will be a few jersey exchanges at the end. However, if there is some level of hatred, teams may refuse to go with the tradition. This can either be a refusal from an individual player, or an entire team.

This might be a little shocking when fans see this happen, but it is not the end of the world. It is not a requirement, and it might be better to avoid any tricky situations instead of forcing something to happen.

Generally speaking, big matches tend to have more jersey exchanges. Some teams will have special jerseys for that match, so they do not necessarily need them again after the match.

When Are Jerseys Exchanged?

Except for very extreme situations, jerseys should only be exchanged at the end of a match. It makes sense in many ways because players need to have their jerseys on when the match is going on in the first place.

Some players might be tempted to switch jerseys before the match is over, especially if the two players are not participating in the match. However, this is usually frowned upon, and is not considered proper jersey swapping etiquette.

There is really no rhyme or reason as far as who initiates the exchange in the first place. Some people believe that the better player should be the one who dictates who they exchange the jersey with, but that might not always work out the way it should.

Will The Trend Continue?

If anything, the trading of soccer jerseys is starting to take off more than ever before. Not only is it happening in soccer, but other sports as well. It is a great sign of respect, and it is also one of the most memorable pieces a person can pick up during their playing days.

In particular, it seems like a professional sport that is starting to do this the most is basketball. Players about to retire can exchange their jersey with another player on the opposite side as a sign of respect and as a way to pass the torch. Dwyane Wade is one recently retired player who really bought into this tradition. 

This trend can only happen in certain leagues, as lower-level leagues do not have the budget to buy new jerseys all the time. There are some variations though, including players exchanging another piece of clothing or wristbands to show respect.

All in all, it does seem like a soccer tradition that is here to stay. Players love it, the top leagues can afford it, and fans are willing to spend good money when they hit the open market.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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