If you’ve ever sat and watched football, a player’s shin pads is probably the last thing on your mind. Well, that is until they get slide tackled by the opposition and you’re shouting “Ref!” at the television screen with your hands up in the air.
They were made mandatory by Fifa in 1990, and were brought in to provide protection for the shin bone. As we’ve seen in football – apart from the Oscar winning performances – players can get kicked and seriously hurt through tackles and bumps endured during play. They were created to fit the lower leg, size dependent on whether you were a child or adult for obvious reasons.
So you might be asking yourself, why does Jack Grealish, Aston Villa’s midfielder, wear shin pads way too small for him? Good question. According to Birmingham Mail, he said: “Obviously your socks are supposed to go above your calves.
“But one year when I was here, the socks once shrunk in the wash. So they wouldn’t go higher.
“That season, I ended up playing really well. So it became a superstitious thing for me. I thought ‘I’m going to keep doing this because I’ve done well’.”
The good thing here is that he is still wearing shin pads. He wouldn’t be allowed to play if he didn’t have the correct kit, of course. But the question is, why haven’t officials pulled him up on it? Surely we should be made to wear kit that is adequate for our size to maximise protection.
Some footballers have argued that smaller shin pads don’t interfere with their style of play as much, but should this be enough reason to compromise safety? They’re not allowed to wear jewellery for the fact it can be pulled or ripped away from the skin, but a football boot into the shin bone is just as painful.
“I don’t mind it to be honest,” said Sam, 28, from Brighton. “However, I wonder if the FA will implement rules on the shin pad when a player does get hurt by wearing ones way too small for them.”
Shin pads have become a ‘wear what size you want’ part of the kit, but do you think rules on the kit should be more strict when it comes to items that protect yourself? Players get booked for taking their shirt off, which doesn’t affect play at all.
Tune in next time for: Should Players be Allowed to chew Gum on the Pitch? Sigh…
Photography by Phillip Kofler