Inside the world of football fetishism

From steamy gay porn scenes to anonymous fetishists on Twitter, the sexual lust for football kits is at an all-time high. But what lies beneath the knee-high socks? THE FACE finds out.

Fetishes exist for seemingly everything, from the tepidly tantalising to the blatantly bizarre. You might be into clowns, often upheld near the apex of weird sexual desires, or balloons, and balloon popping. There are the more regular candidates, like feet or light bondage, and some even get off to douching with enemas (that one has a delightfully ornate Greek name: Klismaphilia.”)

Most of us have thirsted over at least one professional football player in our time, and extensive articles have been dedicated to the empirical and objective study of which ones are the most fuckable. But an entire sexual subculture exists – propagated and informed across porn, individual fantasies and organised, cruisey club nights – geared towards not just hot players but also the players’ kits themselves.

Fetish is generally geared towards objects or tangible things,” says Robin Craig, PhD student and writer of a Substack centred on the various taboo” kinds of porn. To further illustrate the myriad nature of fetishism, he points to other disparate examples: latex, drinking piss, wearing a dog collar. But why do we have them in the first place, and how are they formed?

That’s the million-dollar question,” Craig says. I don’t believe there’s one specific reason fetishes develop. I think, like everything else that forms our personalities and desires, fetishes are informed by the culture we live in, and our life experiences — particularly in adolescence and early adulthood when we’re becoming sexually aware.”

The majority of us have fetishes, Craig argues, but the more mainstream our desires are, the more likely they are to be described under more respectable terms — a sexual preference,” as opposed to something evocative of social taboos. The most normalised kind of sexual desire is male, heterosexual desire, often in the context of a monogamous relationship,” says Craig, so the further something strays from that, the more likely it is to be considered taboo.”

When someone wears a football kit in a gay sexual situation, they tap into this idea of the football lad and that brings in with it a host of power dynamics.”

ROBIN CRAIG, PhD STUDENT

Football kits, then, seem like an unsurprising candidate: we associate them with rugged, full-throttle machismo and salacious, sweaty stenches; the stacked footie lads that dominated our precocious queer fantasies; and Jack Grealish.

Kits signify a patriarchal hierarchy dominated by heterosexual men and the stereotype, for better or worse, of the homophobic football lad”. When someone wears a football kit in a gay sexual situation,” Craig adds, they tap into this idea of the football lad and that brings in with it a host of power dynamics.” And this is where kit fetishism primarily intersects with kink: where one might derive sexual gratification from power play, and myriad variations on submission and dominance.

One anonymous gay guy in Australia, who goes by @footballsoxjock on Twitter, has been posting self-shot scenes to PornHub – mostly in knee-high football socks, as the handle suggests, but sometimes wearing shirts of clubs like Chelsea and Barcelona. He has dabbled, too, in lycra and superhero costumes, like Spiderman, since 2018, and gives his stage age” as 28 (“heck, people think I’m 24 sometimes”).

Speaking to Craig’s suggestion that fetishes are cultivated early on, @footballsoxjock says he found football socks and kits sexy from a young age: I think I knew as early as 13 or 14,” he says, but my interest probably formed more fully a few years later, at around 18”. It would be a while until he started making videos, but he played with his nascent desires in other ways. I would gather photos of football players, and look for football-themed porn,” he adds.

When he started hooking up, he would bring up the fetish with partners, and ask people to wear his socks and kit. It was a huge turn on,” he says. Like Craig, he reckons the imagined dominance of hyper-macho fans is at the core of the fetish. He suspects his first forays into the sportswear scene, more specifically, to have been triggered by an attraction to superheroes. I was really into the very fit and macho appearance, with their colourful skin suits and boots,” he says, I then probably saw [football] players and found similarities in that.”

You might think, too, that wider cultural exposure to football could inspire kit fetishism, but audience stats shared by @footballsoxjock suggest otherwise: China, USA, Thailand, Taiwan and Australia make up his top five countries by follower percentile. Most, save for Thailand – where 78% of the population, according to Nielsen, are either interested” or very interested” in football – do not boast the fervent footballing fandoms typical of Europe. But football is, nevertheless, the world’s most ubiquitous sport: the same report indicates that 40 per cent of the adult population worldwide consider themselves fans.

Other than finding it, well, hot, @footballsoxjock further notes that he started making content as a way to connect with other guys with the same, sexy footballing proclivities. Which begs the question: just how big is the kit fetish scene?

The first JOCK Club, a club night with an all-underwear or sportswear dress code, was hosted five years ago at The Eagle Bar in Manchester. I’d say we push underwear a little more, but we have sports-themed parties, too,” says MJ Palmer, who runs the event. As MJ describes it, the vibe isn’t too far from a Berlin-esque techno rave, albeit a few increments higher on the scally scale.

Gays like to take something straight and queer it up in a sexual way. It’s almost like we shouldn’t be allowed to because we’re gay, but we’re doing it anyway.”

MJ PALMER, JOCK CLUB

There’s vocal house music, a few hundred guys in jockstraps, sports kit or fetish gear, and attitude-free enjoyment,” he says. While it’s rare to see someone in studs, and the night isn’t exclusively football-themed, guys do turn up in full kits – and it’s definitely encouraged by me,” he continues. Here, the sexy theme of subverting masculinities is brought up: I suppose the appeal is the macho bravado that comes with the kits,” MJ says.

Gays like to take something straight and queer it up in a sexual way,” he continues. It’s almost like we shouldn’t be allowed to because we’re gay, but we’re doing it anyway.”

The night has now expanded out of Manchester to see iterations in Birmingham and, as feels a natural evolution, London. It’s also in the capital that you’ll find Club Shoot: a monthly event hosted at The Underground Club in King’s Cross exclusively for football kit fetishists. (“We have a strict dress code,” the website says, outlining that spares” are available for the kit-less. Which absolutely has the potential to be a fetish in itself.)

While they note that most of their visitors are gay men, these days, sexuality and gender is a lot more fluid”. Anyone is welcome, it would seem, as long as they’re kitted up. Perhaps that speaks to broadening societal sexual desires, as social stigmas around gender and sexual expression are more widely challenged.

It’s fair to presume, too, that not only cis gay men carry the residual, locker room trauma fuelling desires into adulthood. Suffice to say: there’s enough to go around.

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