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A Historical Look at Soccer Scarves
Unity, identity, affiliation, pride, devotion and solidarity: all words that have come to epitomize the soccer scarf.
As most fashions and trends originate, the scarf was originally a functional tool, much like the handkerchief, used during Roman times so wipe one’s face. The women then started making distinctive colors and designs, using them on their heads, again as a functional piece, but we know that as the fashionable head scarf today. Similarly to the ancient scarf, soccer scarves originated where soccer originated, Jolly Ol’ England.
Just about 1900, soccer emerged from the hedgerows, and the worldwide phenomenon had begun. As Europe developed their respective countries’ leagues, many, including England, found the season taking place in the winter. This meant that team colored shirts or jerseys were not visible beneath the heavy coats, jackets and pea coats, so something else was needed to show support. Well everyone has a scarf!
Thus began the badge of honor that is the soccer scarf, each its own story from its travels, trials and tribulations. It is said that the ancient Chinese military gave different scarves to officers to show rank, accomplishments and faction affiliation. Many supporters groups take a similar approach to this day with giving new members certain scarves, and having to earn their next tier rank, so to speak.
It is not just cold weather playing clubs and leagues that have taken on the soccer scarf; you will find them in warm climates just the same. Maybe not wrapped twice around supporters necks or tucked into jackets, but held high and waved around with the same fervor as their European counter-parts. They are truly a globally accepted and understood representation of fandom, even here in the U.S.
Now scarves have been so prevalent that collectors have begun to emerge, buying, trading and creating unique, rare and limited edition scarves to tell their own story as a fan. They create scarf walls in their homes as trophy displays, clubs have begun to start their own inside stadiums so visiting supporters can trade their scarves for one from that match, forever leaving their mark on the opponent’s stadium.