Why Do Soccer Players Walk out With Kids? Find out Here!

If you've ever watched a soccer game, you've probably noticed that the players walk out onto the field with children. Why is that? Read on to find out.

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Jul. 27 2023, Published 5:19 p.m. ET

Whether you're a soccer fan or not, chances are you've seen at least one match before and noticed that the players always walk onto the field holding the hands of a child. The cute kiddos, who look like little soccer superstars in the making, also get to stay with the player during the national anthem.

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So, what's up with that? Why do soccer players walk out with kids? Read on to find out!

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Why do soccer players walk out with kids?

The children who accompany a soccer player onto the field are known as "player escorts" or 'mascot children," and they've been around since at least the '90s. The tradition initially called for one escort per team, but since the UEFA Euro 2000, there's a player escort for each player.

There are various reasons why players walk out onto the field with kids, including children's rights. Ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, FIFA and UNICEF partnered on a campaign named "Say Yes For Children," which aimed "to promote and protect the right of all children to healthy recreation and quality primary education."

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At the event, children were "given a prime role at each match, accompanying each player onto the pitch in a symbolic action reminding football enthusiasts that they have a major role to play in building a world fit for children."

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Since 2002, McDonald's has been sponsoring the player escort program at the World Cup or European Championship, offering children the chance to enter a contest to win one of the spots. In 2014, the wildly popular fast-food chain sent over 1,400 kids from 70 different countries to the World Cup in Brazil — insane, right?!

As for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, official sponsor Commonwealth Bank is taking over the program; according to the FIFA press release, the program will see a whopping 1,500 children (between the ages of six and 10) accompany players onto the soccer field before matches.

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Sarai Bareman, FIFA's chief women's football officer, said, "Through their investment in Australian football since 2021, Commonwealth Bank have demonstrated a genuine commitment to growing women's football participation, creating opportunities, and championing leadership."

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"These goals are closely aligned with the objectives of FIFA's own women's football strategy, so this partnership truly is an exceptional fit," Sarai added. "We look forward to working closely with Commonwealth Bank over the coming months as together we aim to inspire kids and communities through the power of women's football."

Sometimes, being a player escort isn't always free.

With it being dubbed a "once-in-a-lifetime experience," it's easy to understand why being a player escort isn't always free. In 2018, The Guardian reported that more than half of the Premier League clubs were charging as much as £450 for children to be player escorts. As a result, they've been accused of "excluding families from poorer backgrounds."

Most of these "player escort packages" include much more than just a place as an escort — the kids are given a free uniform, signed soccer balls, match tickets, and other benefits. These clubs earn so much money already, so why do they need to put a price tag on such a special moment?

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