Along with dubious VAR decisions and plugged-in balls, unsightly holes in socks have become a surprisingly common sight at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Fear not, it appears these ultra-well-paid athletes are not in desperate need of new socks for Christmas. The fashion faux pas is actually to help ease the constriction of the player’s precious legs.
A handful of players have opted for a single big hole at the back of the calf, while a number of others have gone for the Swiss Cheese look. Among the players spotted sporting the trend are Jude Bellingham, Kyle Walker, Gareth Bale, and Bukayo Saka (as seen in the image below).
Footballers are typically given brand-new pairs of form-fitting socks right before the start of each match. Since the pair are so fresh, the synthetic fabric has not had time to stretch out and they can prove to be extremely tight, especially if you’ve got large calves (ahem, Jack Grealish).
The tightness of the socks can prove uncomfortable, restrictive, and can reduce blood circulation, leading to problems like cramping.
To ease the pressure, some footballers will take a pair of scissors and simply cut holes into the back of the mandatory sock. It might look scruffy, but it's a matter of function over fashion, apparently.
"It's about functionality," Jermaine Jenas, former professional footballer and BT Sport pundit, explained in 2018.
Speaking about Walker’s sock slashing, he added: "He obviously thinks his socks are too tight so he cuts holes in them to help the circulation in his calves so he doesn't get cramp.”