Do Soccer Players Wear Cups?

Published date: December 15, 2021

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For most of us, it’s enough to just slip on a pair of boxers every morning to keep things well-ventilated and comfortable down there. But for sportsmen, it’s an entirely different ballgame (see what we did there).

It’s difficult to imagine the amount of stress one might feel on the pitch, in the midst of all those hard balls and heavy bats wavering dangerously close to one’s area. The amount of courage it must take to willingly set foot on that field with no guarantee that your jewels will return unscathed is probably what separates the professionals from the amateur league (i.e. those of us who scream when a ball comes within a yard of our bodies).

Of course, there’s a sensible method of preventing such agonizing injuries, and most sportsmen sensibly take advantage of it. Most, but not all. Below we are going to take a look at the question, do soccer players wear cups and if they serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

The Big Question: Do Soccer Players Wear Cups?

Cups are a regular feature in most sports, notably American football and ice hockey, where one can expect a fair bit of aggressive resistance from the opposite team. Black eyes, broken arms, shattered teeth - it’s all par for the course in these sports and is a big reason as to why there always seems to be a great turn-out even at amateur games. Folks just can’t resist a hardy bludgeoning it seems - all in the spirit of good sportsmanship, of course.

On the other side of the pond, however, where football means something else entirely, you can expect things to be different.

In general, most soccer players - especially professionals - will not wear cups. In fact, they’ll often sacrifice heavy padding in most areas for more dexterity and fluidity of movement. But European football is by no means a contactless sport, and while it certainly isn’t quite as brutal as its American counterpart, plenty of soccer players have left the pitch with some truly nasty injuries.

The bigger question, then, is this: why don’t soccer players wear cups?

Youthful football players challenging for ball in goalmouth zone

The Bigger Question: Why Don’t Soccer Players Wear Cups?

Watch any game of American football and take note of how it flows, how the players interact with each other and the ball. Now watch any game of European football and do the same. Beyond the names, you should notice a huge difference between how these two games are played.

With American football, most teams will typically be comprised of men with admittedly impressive physiques, plenty of muscle, and a whole lot of square-jawed aggression. These men may have been gladiators or lion-tamers in another century. On top of all of that muscle, there’s still a pair of shoulder pads and a helmet for you to smash your teeth on. It’s intimidating, to say the least.

Hopping across the pond again, you’ll find that most European footballers are decidedly far more lean and limber, but no less impressive. Additionally, the average soccer kit consists of no less than four articles of clothing: a shirt, a pair of shorts, socks, and sneakers. Anything else is entirely up to the individual player.

Even then, most players will still not elect to wear a cup, because soccer requires a lot of running from everyone on the pitch. It’s not uncommon to see someone leg it from one goalpost to the other in little more than a few seconds. Generally speaking, cups could potentially end up causing more damage than they prevent, not only in terms of slowing players down during gameplay but also in more practical terms. That’s a lot of chafing to contend with.

Despite the apparent laissez faire attitude of most soccer players with regards to their genitals, you’ll find that they are a lot more prudish when it comes to their shins. Although not mandatory, pretty much every soccer player wears a trusty pair of shin guards whenever they’re on the pitch. This makes sense too, as most injuries in soccer are caused by tackles and fouls localized to the general lower leg area. In fact, it’s pretty rare for a ball to go so wildly off-target as to hit someone in their spot with the necessary force to cause damage. It’s a “precision sport”, after all.

That’s not to say it’s entirely unheard of either.

On some occasions, particularly during free kicks, members of the defending team will form a wall between their opponent and the goalposts. When this happens, you can guarantee that each and every one of them will be guarding their family jewels with both hands.

In summary, it’s improbable for a soccer player to suffer a groin injury - but not impossible.

What About Goalies?

So far, we’ve touched on the intricacies of European football, especially the players who run from box to box, but what about those who stay inside the box? Surely they are the ones who are the most at risk.

A goalie’s job is often a thankless one. Everyone loves a good whammy shot or header, but not enough people take the time to appreciate the ones who more often than not will risk life and limb to keep that ball from the back of the net. (Maybe not life, per se).

A good goalie is a stalwart figure, but although he doesn’t run around as much as his team members, he still has to maintain his form and agility if he has any hope of blocking those balls. To this end, even he will forgo the use of a cup.


Although the cup seems like the sensible solution to the age-old problem of protecting one’s genitals from harm, not everyone is as concerned as we are. It’s not just soccer players who are willing to risk damaging their family jewels - basketball players aren’t too keen on cups either, and even some American football stars will swear against them.

If nothing else, the absolute dedication to machismo is commendable.

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