Why Was Edgar Davids Allowed to Wear Glasses on the Pitch?


Edgar Steven Davids is an outstanding midfielder, the main player of that superb Ajax squad that won the 1995 Champions League, and one of the favorite Juventus legends. Fans of football have remembered him as a very energetic and unshakable central midfielder, with unique endurance and aggressive style in tackling. But not only the game qualities made Davids a football legend. He stood out from all other players of his generation thanks to the dreadlocks and the special futuristic glasses. It is about the latter Football Geeks are going to talk today. Why did Edgar Davids wear glasses on the field and why were they unique in their own way? Why did not he try contact lenses instead? Are you ready to get the answer?

Obviously, the glasses were worn by “The Pitbull” not of his own motion. In 1995, Edgar suffered a serious injury, which subsequently led to the development of glaucoma. This condition includes an extensive group of diseases accompanied by increased intraocular [ˌɪntrə’ɔkjulə] pressure. But regardless of the causes, the outcome of glaucoma is always severe – blindness due to optic atrophy. In 1999, Edgar Davids underwent surgery on his right eye and dark glasses were necessary for him in the process of postoperative rehabilitation.

After long meetings, FIFA gave Davids a “special” permission to wear such an unusual attribute in professional football as glasses. In addition, the main football governing body in the world issued a few more permits to the Dutch midfielder, namely, the use of eyewash which contained the substances prohibited by the anti-doping agency.

In fairness, it is important to mention several things about the glasses themselves, because it was their appearance that caught the eyes of fans, and not just the fact of wearing. What features contributed to the uniqueness of Edgar Davids glasses? They were made of durable polycarbonate to protect the player from possible eye injury. Thanks to the plastic material, the weight of the glasses did not exceed 20 grams or just 0,7 ounces. In addition, the glasses had a unique form – quite similar to swimming goggles, but without sharp corners and with a more streamlined form. Owing to their design, the glasses did not fog up while running.

Why didn’t he use the lenses you may wonder? Contact lenses are more convenient and a footballer should not sacrifice the comfort during the game. In fact, everything is quite simple to explain. The operated eye is weak. In Davids’ situation, his eyes would face dust and dirt which are inherent attributes of football pitch conditions. In order to avoid the introduction of a highly undesirable infection, tight-fitting glasses were the only option to continue a professional career. Years later, while being healthy, Davids simply refused to take the glasses off as he was so used to wearing them.

By the way, at the FIFA meeting regarding Davids glasses, there was invoked the precedent in professional football history. The famous Italian striker of the past, Annibale Frossi, wore ordinary glasses, and in 1936 he won the Olympics as the part of the Italian national team. In addition, he became the top scorer of the tournament, netting seven goals in four games.