If you’ve been left wondering why some of the world’s most popular football players such as Son Heung-min, Joško Gvardiol and Ellyes Skhiri have been wearing Hannibal Lecter-esque masks in Qatar, you’re not alone.
However, the solid black masks made from polycarbonate are far from a fashion statement.
The masks are worn by footballers who’ve injured their faces and the masks ensure that they can play on safely without hurting themselves even more
South Korea’s Son Heung-Min fractured his eye socket back in early November while playing for his clubTottenham Hotspur and has been seen on the pitch at the World Cup wearing one of the distinctive masks.
The footballer told press after his first training session in Qatar: “I don’t think it was bad because the mask was more comfortable than I thought. In fact, it was a little more comfortable from when I used it in England. Except for sweating a lot because the weather was hot, there was no big difference.”
Tunisia’s Ellyes Skhiri is another World Cup 2022 footballer spotted wearing one of the distinctive masks while on the pitch.
The 27-year-old broke his cheekbone in October and to prevent any further damage, the FC Koln player has donned a 3D printed mask shaped to his facial contours.
World Cup viewers have also been left baffled over why some footballers have opted to cut holes in the backs of their socks – if you’ve spotted the odd styling, you can find out the reason why here
Reason some World Cup stars are wearing black masks at Qatar 2022
Face masks are used to protect players who have recently had a facial injury. The masks are made up of materials such as polycarbonate and are hi-tech protective devices
The masks allow players to play on after a face injury and reduce the risk of sustaining further damage. Many of the masks are 3D printed to ensure that they fit a scan of the contours of a footballers face to produce maximum protection.
Why are players wearing Batman-style facemasks in Qatar
Son got injured in early November while playing for his club Tottenham Hotspur. It was during a Champions League game that Son had a head-on collision with Marseille defender Chancel Mbemba’s shoulder and fractured his eye socket. He was not even sure whether he could play in the World Cup or not. But then he got hold of the polycarbonate-made and 3-d printed mask which would protect his eye sockets and thus his dream of playing the World Cup was realised.
Son was not the only one wearing that mask as a Croatian player, Joško Gvardiol was seen with a similar mask as well in his team’s match against Morocco. He wore a similar mask against Canada too. The reason behind his mask is also an injury that he suffered during a Bundesliga game he was playing for his club, RB Leipzig.
Another masked man in this World Cup is Tunisia’s Ellyes Skhiri. His team played a draw against Denmark in their first game. They lost by a solitary goal to Australia in their second game and now play France in their final game. The 27-year-old Skhiri suffered an injury in October this year and broke his cheekbone. To make sure that it doesn’t happen again, the FC Koln player has decided to protect his facial area with 3-D printed masks.
The only player who did not come prepared to wear a mask, but rather was forced to wear one is Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. He got injured in the country’s World Cup opener against England. He had to be substituted very early in the game as his face was damaged. Therefore in the second game against Wales, he came in with a face mask.