Why do soccer players wear masks (fully explained)

When you watch a soccer game on television, chances are you will see players walking around wearing masks. In this blog, we explain why they wear such masks. 

This is why soccer players wear masks:
Soccer goalkeepers wear a helmet during games to reduce the risk of injury to the head. A helmet can also be worn after suffering a (serious) injury to the head. In this case, the helmet is worn as extra protection. 

When you read further we will give more information about why soccer players wear a mask. In addition, we explain whether the mask hinders the players during their game, against which injuries it helps but also which famous players wear or have worn such masks.

More information on why soccer players wear masks

When you see a player wearing a mask, he has already suffered an injury. This could be a broken nose or broken cheekbone, for example. 

There are several reasons why a soccer player wears the mask:

The mask holds the broken bones in position
Because the mask sits firmly around the player's face, it keeps the bones in position. This also allows the injury to heal more quickly.

The mask protects against possible new injuries
A broken bone is much more vulnerable than bone that is just intact. When the player collides with another player, for example, the bone can break again. The mask therefore protects the broken bone. 

The mask relieves pain
The mask can relieve pain. This is because the mask keeps the broken bone in its place.

The mask protects the player face
It protects the player from sustaining injuries to the face. Yet soccer players do not choose to wear a mask in advance. More on this later in this blog. 

The mask allows the player to get back on the pitch faster
In professional soccer, it is important for a player to recover from an injury as quickly as possible. This can be done through training, rest or in some cases surgery. 

Recovery from a facial fracture is done by taking rest. In some cases, surgery is necessary. Because the mask serves as extra protection, a player can get back on the field faster. 

Especially in professional soccer, players cannot be missed for too long. They need to be back on the field as soon as possible. However, it is always carefully considered whether this is responsible.. The medical staff determines with a doctor whether this is the case.

Is a mask worn in advance?

Now that you know that the mask is as protection for the face you might think: why don't the players wear a mask in advance? We don't have a precise explanation for this. However, we do have an idea.

One reason may be that soccer players do not see the point of wearing a mask from the outset. Perhaps they assume that an injury to the face will not happen to them. 

However, the chances of injuries to the face are very realistic. Because soccer is a contact sport involving many head battles, collisions regularly occur between players. For example, an opponent's elbow can hit the face or players can collide with their heads. 

Many professional soccer players are quite vain. Perhaps this is one of the reasons they do not wear a mask. 

Finally; it is very plausible that soccer players think that wearing such a mask hinders them during the game. If this is true you will read below. 

You may also find this blog interesting

Why does a soccer goalkeeper wear a helmet?

Can you properly play soccer wearing a mask?

Wearing a mask during soccer allows you to perform properly. 

This is because the mask can be completely customized. This is often done with optical scanners or CBCT technology. This technique gives an exact copy of the shape of the face. It can also happen that a mold is made of plaster. Then the mask can be custom-made exactly for the player in question. As a result, the mask sits exactly over the player's face. 

The mask is usually made of carbon fiber. This material is light but also very strong. In addition, it has the property that it can easily be made into different shapes. This means that a soccer player hardly notices that he is wearing a mask. So it is also not the case that a player has to carry a lot of extra weight with him during the match. 

Did you know...
Carbon is also widely used in racing cars. Especially in Formula 1, carbon is used a lot. This is because in this sport it is important that a car does not become too heavy. 

Want to learn more about all kinds of masks types? Then read our blog What types of masks are there for soccer players?

Can you head well when wearing a mask?
A soccer player can head the ball well when wearing a mask. The mask sits exactly over the player's head. It has exactly the same shape as his face. This allows a player to place the ball where he wants with his head. 

Against which injuries is a mask worn?

The mask is worn after a soccer player suffers a facial injury. Below is a list of injuries why a mask can be worn:

  • Broken nose
  • Broken cheekbone
  • Cut in the face
  • Bruised eye socket
  • Skull fracture

Injuries to the face mentioned above are common. Read on to find out which famous players wore masks. 

Which famous players wear masks

Chances are you ended up on this blog because you saw a soccer player wearing a mask during a soccer game on television. Below is a list of famous players who wear or have worn a mask. 

Antonio Rudiger
Germany's central defender Antonio Rüdiger wore a face mask during a period at Chelsea. But he has also played with a mask during his time at Real Madrid. Both times he collided with an opponent. At Real Madrid, this happened during the Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk. Ironically, he sustained the injury at Chelsea against his current employer (Real Madrid). Then he collided with Alvaro Odriozola during a Champions League match. 

Robert Lewandowski
The Polish goal scorer briefly played with a face mask during his time at Bayern Munich in 2015. He suffered a broken cheekbone during Der Klassiker (Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund). This happened when he collided with Borussia Dortmund's goalkeeper. Considering a week later an important match was scheduled (Champions League match against FC Barcelona), he wore a mask. This allowed him to be brought back into action quickly. 

Sergio Ramos
The Spanish center defender who played as many as 469 official games for Real Madrid played with a mask for some time. He wore it because he suffered a broken nose. This happened in 2017 when he was kicked in the face by Lucas during the derby against Atlético Madrid. 

Jan Vertonghen 
Jan Vertonghen, the Belgian defender who played for Ajax Amsterdam, Tottenham and Benfica, among others, wore a mask at his time at Benfica. He suffered a cheekbone fracture during one of the games. Fortunately, wearing a mask allowed him to be prepared in time for international matches with Belgium's national team. 

Other professional players who wear or have worn protective masks:

  • Harry Kane
  • Raheem Sterling
  • Paolo Maldini
  • Victor Osimhen
  • John Terry
  • Fernando Torres
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  • Daniele De Rossi
  • Memphis
  • Diego Costa
  • Petr Čech 
  • Cecc Fabregas
  • Pedro
  • Mario Mandžukić
  • Johnny Heitinga


Wearing a mask during soccer is worn mainly so that players do not suffer further injuries, so that they can get back on the field faster, so that the fracture heals faster and to relieve the pain.

Although a soccer player will not be bothered by wearing a mask, it will not happen quickly he will wear one in advance. We must apologize for not giving you a precise explanation about why this is the case.
Curious about more blogs about protection for soccer players? Then click here.

January 19, 2023
Published: January 19, 2023