As Fast as Possible Rather Than Well Protected: Experiences of Football Clothes


  • Viveka Berggren Torell University of Gothenburg, and Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, Ssweden



Interviews, phenomenology, football clothes, conceptions of health, subjectivity


With Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological view that human beings ’take in’ the world and experience themselves as subjects through their bodies as a starting point, players in both men’s and women’s teams, kit men, purchasing managers, sporting directors, and a coach from Swedish football clubs have been interviewed about their perceptions and experiences of football clothing. Since the body is both a feeling and knowing entity, clothes are seen as components of body techniques, facilitating or restricting body movements in a material way, but also as creators of senses, like lightness and security; in both ways, influencing the knowledge in action that playing football is. In this article, the content of the interviews is discussed in relation to health. When clothes are primarily related to a biomedical view that health means no injuries and illnesses, warm pants and shin guards are mentioned by players, who are rather ambivalent to both, since these garments counteract a feeling of lightness that is connected to the perception of speed. Players want to be fast rather than well protected. If clothes, instead, are interpreted as related to a broad conception of health, including mental, social, and physical components, the relation body–space-in-between–clothes seems to be an important aspect of clothing. Dressed in a sports uniform, unable to choose individual details, the feeling of subjectivity is related to wearing ’the right-size’ clothes. Also new textile technology, like injury-preventing and speed-increasing tight compression underwear, is perceived by players based on feelings that they are human subjects striving for both bodily and psychological well-being.


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Theme: Fashion, Market and Materiality