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J. Gvardiol

Why is Croatia's Josko Gvardiol wearing a mask at the World Cup?

21:15 GMT+3 13/12/2022
Josko Gvardiol Croatia 2022 World Cup
The highly-rated defender has stood out at the World Cup for his performances, but also because he's donned a mask. Here's why.

The RB Leipzig defender has done himself no harm in earning a big money move away from Germany during the World Cup. Heavily linked with Chelsea last summer, Gvardiol looks destined for the top of European football as he has shown his impressive credentials on the biggest stage.

He has been a stalwart of Zlatko Dalic's defence, playing in every minute of Croatia's World Cup campaign thus far. Gvardiol is now just one win away from reaching the World Cup final, with Argentina standing in Croatia's way on Tuesday evening.

However, the 20-year-old has been even more noticeable because of the mask he's sported in every game, too. It clearly has not impeded the defender but what is the reason for it?

Why is Josko Gvardiol wearing a mask at the World Cup?

Gvardiol has had to don the mask due to an injury he sustained while playing for Leipzig prior to the start of the World Cup. He collided with defensive teammate Willi Orban during their 3-1 win over SC Freiburg and, unfortunately for him, broke his nose as a result. Discussions between the Croatian medical staff and Leipzig's then followed and it was decided that, in order for Gvardiol to feature, he'd have to wear the protective mask.

He was back in action soon after, featuring in Leipzig's fixture against Werder Bremen a week later, the final game before the World Cup break.

There was little concern as to the defender's involvement at the World Cup as Sasa Jankovic, Croatia's doctor, confirmed soon after the injury, saying: "Although it's an unpleasant blow, we don't need to worry about Josko in the context of the World Cup."

The mask is designed to prevent any further damage to facial bones and are classed as 'non-dangerous protective equipment' by the International Football Association Board. This allows their use in football.

He joins South Korea's Heung-Min Son in sporting such a mask after the Spurs man suffered a broken eye socket before the start of the tournament.

Where to buy protective face masks

Protective face masks are medical equipment and can be sourced through a hospital, doctor or pharmacist.

As well as eye injuries, they are designed to protect a broad range of facial bones, such as the nose, cheek and orbital.

They can cost from $60/£60 upwards and you should consult with a doctor if you believe you should wear one.