Football helps players realize the importance of teamwork and fair play. As from an early age, coaches are trying to teach footballers compassion for their fellow teammates and instil true values that will guide them throughout their life. Football Associations across the world are always looking for a way to show that one of the main football values is respect towards others and that is truly the case with many football players. They are aware of their influence on the public today, so they will attract attention to them when they feel the urge to do something meaningful. When watching football games nowadays, you might notice that, sometimes, footballers wear black armbands.
Footballers wear black armbands as a token of respect, worn to show sympathy and compassion after some kind of tragic event. As a part of Western culture, a black armband signifies that the person wearing it is in mourning, or wishes to identify with someone who mourns. The black armband was first adopted as a sign of mourning in 1770s England. During the Regency Era in England from 1795 to 1830, all men and male children were expected to wear black suits and black armbands. Mourning attire reached its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria reign in England, from 1837 to 1901. Following the death of the Queen’s beloved husband, Albert, in 1861, all royal servants were commanded to wear black crepe armbands for at least eight years, in his honour.
How & When do Footballers Wear Black Armbands?
When it comes to football, footballers wearing black armbands is common after a tragic event happened to a former or current team member or manager. The appropriate way to wear it is on your right arm, so it is not confused with the captain’s armband, which is usually on the left arm. There are different kinds of occasions on which players show their support or pay their respects.
Footballers Wear Black Armbands after Catastrophic Events
Footballers wearing black armbands is a showing of their respects after natural disasters happening in their own country or around the world. These incidents are shocking and unexpected, often with catastrophic outcomes. Some natural disasters treat the entire humanity, and players will join the fight and try to raise awareness of the issue. Tsunamis in Japan, earthquakes in Mexico and floods in Spain are just some of the natural catastrophes where players raised their voice symbolically to increase the public’s knowledge of the problems and show their solidarity with the victims and their families.
Footballers Wear Black Armbands on Specific Dates
Unfortunately, throughout our history we had many events that brought us destruction and chaos. This includes wars, terrorist attacks, accidents and other unfortunate events. Therefore, it is not strange why such dates awaken powerful emotions in people, as well as football players, who feel a strong desire to connect with others and share the pain and show their respect to victims.
World War One Remembrance Day
In Great Britain, it is a tradition to remember the sacrifices the nation took in World War One, for the commemorative holiday Remembrance Day 11th of November. Not only Great Britain, but many other countries celebrate this day as a national holiday. In 2017, England and Germany played a friendly match in which players from both teams wore black armbands with a poppy symbol, as a sign of solidarity and unity. Other countries, such as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland adopted this gesture, and wore the same symbols on their international games.
Paris Terrorist Attacks
Football players in both Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 wore black armbands to pay the respect to victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. The Bundesliga also honored the victims of a racist terror attack in Hanau. During the game Bayern Munich vs Paderborn, footballers wore black armbands as a sign of respect. Other teams from top tier Bundesliga as well as Bundesliga 2 teams, together condemned this attack and sent their thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims.
AC Torino Plane Crash
The football game at the International Cup 1949 between Italy and Austria was a special game for the Italian team. It was not only because they won 3 – 1. This game was extremely important as it was the first game Italy played after the plane crash disaster, when the entire AC Torino football team died. All the Italian players at this game were wearing a black armband at their left arm in order to pay tribute to the memory of the dead players.
Munich Air Disaster
Every year, Manchester United staff members, both current and former players, pay their respects to the victims of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster. Eight United players and three staff members, as well as eight sports journalists, lost their lives in a plane crash. The plane crashed while they were on their way home from a European Cup game against Red Star in Belgrade. To this day, they are known as the Flowers of Manchester. At the games held around 6th February, the day of the disaster, Manchester United players, as well as the players of opposing teams, traditionally wear black armbands as a symbol of keeping the memory of the victims alive.
Footballers Wear Black Armbands when Tragic Deaths of Individuals Occur
It is common for players to show their respect to people who had an important role in their life or career. Sometimes, if any or many of the teammates face tragic death and the loss of someone important in their life, at that moment all the players show compassion and togetherness.
Jack Charlton | 1966 World Cup Winner
This year, Premier League teams paid their tribute to the 1966 World Cup winner Jack Charlton, who died at the age of 85. Players paid their respects to the England national team player and national hero by wearing black armbands in his memory.
John Steven Taylor | Blackburn Rovers Supporter
In 2010, Blackburn Rovers marked the death of a team supporter, who died of a head wound while attending their game. John Steven Taylor was a big fan of Blackburn Rovers and the entire team viewed this as a great tragedy for them. As a token of respect, two minutes of silence were held and footballers wore black armbands at their game against Hull.
Kobe Bryant | NBA Superstar
AC Milan honoured the death of one of the best basketball players and the All-Star legend Kobe Bryant. Bryant died on Sunday 26th January 2020 alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Kobe Bryant often spoke about his love for football and was a known football fan who grew up supporting AC Milan. AC Milan showed their respect with the footballers wearing black armbands for their Coppa Italia football match against Torino. Players of the Torino team also wore black armbands at this game. Some of the players paying the tribute to a NBA legend include Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Lukaku, and Mbappe.
Princess Margaret | Countess of Snowdon
The England national team paid their respects to the tragic death of Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret. She died after a stroke in 2002. The English team played with black armbands in her memory at their friendly match against the Netherlands in the Amsterdam Arena. English footballers wearing black armbands at the game was a token of respect in the name of the Queen’s sister.
Why are Footballers Wearing Black Armbands during the COVID 19 Pandemic?
As the new virus COVID 19 is still spreading at a fast pace, people from different parts of the world are faced with this danger. The spread of the coronavirus has already taken many lives throughout the world and it is still a challenge for the entire humankind. All those people working in medical care, supplies of medicine and other sectors in numerous countries are the ones who are working tirelessly in this fight against the pandemic. As a show of respect to all who have lost their lives and as a token of gratitude to medical workers, footballers in German Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 wore black armbands during their games. Other leagues in Europe also did the same in memory of COVID 19 victims and as an expression of support to their medical workers.
Do Footballers Wear Black Armbands because of the Black Lives Matter Movement?
Footballers wear black armbands with the aim of conveying messages is also a frequent phenomenon. We have seen an example of this with the Black Lives Matter movement, as this was the message printed on black armbands footballers wore during the games. In that way, they paid their respects to George Floyd who was killed as a result of police brutality and as a sign of support to the struggle of black people in achieving justice.
As a sport, football values compassion and sympathy between the players. Footballers wear black armbands as a way to pay respect after some tragic and unfortunate event occurs, whether if it happened to them, to people close to them, or anywhere else in the world. Footballers wearing black armbands is a frequent symbol of regard to all the people they relate to at that moment of grief. It is also a way for people to show togetherness and to connect at the time of need.