Do Soccer Players Get a New Shirt Every Game?

For the average soccer/football player, a kit naturally comprises a number of items. The items include shorts, socks, shin guards and cleats. For distinct players like goalkeepers, specialized gloves, padded uniforms and even protective headgear (like in the case of former Chelsea goalie Petr Cech) are also part of a kit. No article is however more important or symbolic than the jersey/shirt.

Do soccer players get a new shirt every game? It really depends on the level of the league a soccer player belongs to. Players in top-tier teams may wear a shirt once whereas those in lower-level teams and leagues are likely to wear a shirt more than once.

We take a n in depth look as to when soccer players get a new shirt each game or if they are just washed and returned to the player for the next game.

The Difference Between Then and Now

Soccer players didn’t always have the luxury of wearing a shirt once. In fact, two or so decades ago, it was quite normal for players to wear a shirt and indeed the whole kit on numerous occasions within a season.

Ex-Blackburn Rovers ace, Graeme Le Saux, played during the aforementioned time/era and is thus privy to reliable information on what used to happen. In a past interview, Le Saux disclosed that in the 1990s, it wasn’t uncommon for players in lower-level leagues to have to take their kits (including shirts) home and wash them.

Le Saux even disclosed that unlike the present day where swapping shirts is considered to be part and parcel of the game and is therefore not penalized, clubs often deducted an arbitrary amount of around £50 a month from a player’s wages during his era as recompense.

What Happens Now

Nowadays, things are different especially for players in top flight leagues such as the EPL. Teams have adopted the practice of providing a player with three kits for every match – one kit for each half of action plus an extra kit to be used in case either of the two kits are unwearable.

Though this action may initially appear a little excessive on the club’s part, it is actually well-thought out for scenarios such as if a match is being played under wet conditions or instances where a player’s kit rips.

With shirt/kit sponsorships being one of the major ways of raising funds, there may be certain legal obligations that a team may be required to adhere to such as having the sponsor’s name visible at all times during a match or always having a kit in a presentable condition. 

Having multiple shirts (and kits) ensures that such requirements are met even when matches are played under unfavorable weather conditions. This norm of players having multiple shirts available is however not written in stone for a number of reasons.

One such reason is because of the nature of shirt sponsorships. A sponsor may have dealings with more than one team in the same top-tier league but to different extents. A more popular or better-performing team is more likely to receive a more lucrative sponsorship and thus afford the luxury of providing players with new shirts for every game than a less popular or underperforming team in the same league.

Again, this practice may change depending on a team’s internal policies. In 2016, fans of English giants Manchester United were surprised to find out that the club’s management had instructed players not to swap shirts because it was “not cost-effective”.

The directive was issued at a time when the club was in the second year of a 10-year, £750 million kit deal with sports apparel powerhouse Adidas – a kit deal that was expected to make sales of up to £1.5 billion during its duration.

Why Soccer Players Need New Shirts for Every Game

There are quite a number of reasons a soccer team may have to provide their players with new shirts for every game. They can however be condensed into the following:

1. To continue the shirt-swapping tradition

Unknown to many, soccer players didn’t always swap shirts with their opponents after matches as a sign of mutual respect. Many soccer historians believe that the tradition of shirt-swapping started in Paris in the year 1931 during an international match between England and France.

Before the historic match, France had never beaten England despite having clashed on numerous occasions. France had however managed to best the Three Lions 5-2. The outcome prompted French players to ask their English counterparts for their shirts as mementos. As a sign of sportsmanship, the English players accepted the request and by doing so started one of soccer’s most beloved traditions.

The COVID-19 pandemic recently threatened the long-standing tradition of shirt-swapping between players. As part of the measures put in place after the resumption of play in mid-2020, shirt-swapping was banned since it would have increased the likelihood of transmission from one player to another. The ban was however lifted recently.

2. To gift to fans

Like every other sport in the world, soccer is nothing without its multitude of loyal fans. Fans are the lifeline of the teams they support and willingly invest their time and money into growing them. It is therefore not unreasonable for fans to have expectations that the support they show will be reciprocated in kind, or in this case in shirts.

Fans, especially younger ones, have even been known to carry signs to matches requesting that their favorite player gives them their shirt. Knowing that a new shirt will be available for their next game allows soccer players to extend this courtesy.

3. To give to charity

One of the most common reasons soccer players get a new shirt before every game today is because many players donate theirs to charities of their choice after matches. Such donations are made by the players themselves or through the team/club.

Donated shirts are mostly auctioned by the charities in order to raise funds for the many worthy causes they support. In the year 2020 alone, it is believed that around 500 EPL players donated their shirts to raise funds for a number of UK’s National Health Service (NHS) charities.


I started watching football in the early 90s and was hooked. I fell in love with Chelsea and have supported them ever since. I have also written a book on Corporate Governance and Firm Performance in England and Scottish football.

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