Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the world. With more than 3.5 billion fans across the globe, the beautiful game is beloved on every continent. And soccer has a unique fan culture, much of which is tied up in the wearing of merchandise, including scarves.
If you've ever been to a soccer match or seen one on television, you'll notice the vast majority of fans wearing or holding a scarf adorned with their team's logo and colors. But why are scarves so important to soccer fans? Many outsiders or casual fans don't have much understanding of the importance of soccer scarves.
Want to learn more about the history and culture surrounding these important soccer artifacts? Read on. We'll give you the lowdown on soccer scarves and their place in soccer fandom.
The History of the Soccer Scarf
Before we dive into the modern culture of scarf-wearing at soccer matches, it's necessary to understand a little bit about the history of these unique items of clothing.
The soccer scarf phenomenon began in the early 1900s in the United Kingdom. Before the scarf came into vogue, fans showed their team allegiance through the wearing of ribbons and rosettes, as well as carrying items like wooden rattles.
Remember, this was long before the advent of replica shirts. Most fans attended games wearing formal, dark clothes, and so a small splash of color was more than enough to demonstrate undying allegiance!
Soccer scarves were often worn on the freezing terraces of soccer hotspots in Scotland and the north of England. When the rain is driving down and the wind is blowing on an uncovered stadium in Manchester or Glasgow, the fans definitely need a little extra something to keep the cold out!
Scarves weren't originally mass-produced items sold by clubs. Instead, they tended to be homemade affairs, sewn by mothers and wives of male supporters. In these early days of soccer fandom, attitudes were very different from the modern age, and it was practically unheard of for women to attend soccer matches.
In the 1960s and '70s, soccer clubs began to recognize the moneymaking potential of club scarves and use them for the occasional soccer fundraiser. Teams started to sell scarves in their club shops for a modest fee. With mass production taking hold, scarf designs became a little more complex, often featuring club logos along with the traditional colors.
Soccer Scarf Displays
At games across the world, scarves are an important part of fan displays within stadiums. They can be used to add a dash of color to the terraces and spur their team on.
The scarf wall is a part of scarf culture. This occurs when fans raise their scarves in unison, creating a block of color in a section of the stadium. Remember, soccer fans are normally segregated into fans of home and away teams, making it easy for supporters to combine and show their team spirit.
Perhaps the best-known example of a scarf wall can be seen at Anfield, the home of Premiership side Liverpool FC. There, fans raise their scarves in unison, to the accompaniment of the club's famous song "You'll Never Walk Alone." It's one of the most remarkable sights in world sports and it's all made possible by the mighty soccer scarf!
How to Wear a Soccer Scarf
Wearing a soccer scarf is a fairly informal business. There are several different ways the average fan might choose to wear their scarf.
- Tied around their neck with a simple knot
- Draped over the back of their neck and tucked into a coat
- Pulled high around the face
Wearing a scarf around the face is especially popular for fans attending games in very cold places who may need to shield their faces from the cold.
In general, you should feel free to wear your scarf however you like. Choose whatever feels easy and comfortable for you.
The Advantages of Soccer Scarves
For many fans of the beautiful game, soccer scarves are the ultimate piece of memorabilia. Why? There are several reasons.
The first is versatility. A scarf is light and small, so it can be carried easily from place to place. In cold weather, it's perfect for wrapping around the neck or face, while in warmer climes, it can be waved in the air or draped over the back of a stadium seat.
Scarves are also versatile in design. Many fans choose simple scarves featuring their club's colors and logo. Others may opt for customized scarves or designs featuring the emblem of their fan group chapter.
The next is cost. Scarves are significantly cheaper than other forms of memorabilia, like replica shirts. Fans can easily pick up one or more scarves at merchandise stalls or online without breaking the bank.
You might think a simple colored piece of fabric couldn't be used to make a social or political statement. In fact, soccer scarves are often used by fans as a way of sending a message.
A key example of this came from Manchester United fans protesting against their club's ownership. Instead of wearing scarves in the Red Devils' famous colors of red and white, many fans wore green and yellow scarves.
These scarves represented the original colors of the team from their founding days. Fans wore these scarves as a call back to decades ago when fans feel the game was closer to its roots.
The Half and Half Scarf
Half and half scarves show the logos of two different teams. These unique scarves are a hot topic of debate among soccer fans the world over!
On the one hand, some hardcore soccer fans think it's a kind of sacrilege to wear a scarf with the logo of two different teams on it. For example, an AC Milan fan wearing an item of clothing featuring the Inter Milan crest might be seen as sacrilegious in some spheres of soccer fandom!
On the other hand, these scarves are often created as unique pieces of memorabilia to commemorate specific games. Advocates of half and half scarves argue they're remarkable collector's items, perfect for commemorating major events in soccer history. Who wouldn't want a half and half scarf from a World Cup final?
While most soccer fans have only one or two scarves to wear to games, a certain subset prefers to cultivate vast collections. These collectors may boast scarves from dozens of different teams, from different countries and continents.
Some scarf collectors double their fun by swapping scarves with other fans. This is a great way for fans to meet and form lasting bonds.
Some clubhouses or bars are bedecked by scarves from around the world. One bar in Portugal boasted a collection of more than 600 scarfs! Some clubs display different scarves in their stadiums as a memento of previous opponents and games.
Super Rare Scarves
Some soccer scarves are worth more than others. Some of the rarest sell for hundreds of dollars online. Extremely rare scarves include commemorative items made to commemorate major cup finals.
Even a regular scarf you buy from a club's store or from our shop could one day be a collector's item. Imagine if, for instance, you bought a Columbus Crew FC scarf. If one day the team changed its name, logo, or colors, your scarf with the original design might be worth something.
Or what about a scarf from a smaller, obscure team? Imagine if you designed custom scarves for your high school team and one of the players later went on to make it big on the international stage. That rare high school scarf could become a much sought-after collectors' item.
All the Scarves You've Ever Wanted Are a Click Away!
The history and culture of soccer scarves might be more detailed than you thought. Like many other aspects of soccer fandom, it's governed by an unwritten set of rules that may seem strange to newcomers. But to hardcore lovers of the beautiful game, they're a code to live by.
Whether you're a lifelong fan or a newcomer to the sport, you need your own scarf. After all, it's the best way to show your support and become part of a tight-knit community of soccer fanatics.
Whether you're looking for custom scarves with a logo, some rare items for a collection or you just want the scarf of your favorite team, we can help. Check out our scarf shop and you can get all the scarves you've ever dreamed of.