A testimonial match or testimonial game, often referred to simply as a testimonial, is a practice in some sports, particularly in association football in the United Kingdom and South America, where a club has a match to honour a player for service to the club. These matches are always non-competitive.
The practice started at a time when player compensation, even those at top professional clubs, was at a level that made it difficult to maintain it as a primary form of employment therefore retirement savings might not exist. These matches are generally well-attended and the gesture by the club can give the honoree income that enables a retirement income base or enable the honoree an opportunity to establish themselves in other employment when they finished playing. This is still the main objective of testimonials in Australia, Ireland and some other countries.
Clubs typically grant testimonials to players upon reaching ten years of service with a club, although in recent years they have been given to players for particular circumstances such as approaching retirement. Typically, the club invites (depending on the career of the honoree) current or retired teammates (typically the honoree's club and national team) to participate in the match or with the associated festivities. All proceeds from the match go to the player which depending on the applicable country laws may be tax-free. These matches have become less frequent as changes have occurred in football that make the original purpose less needed or appreciated. Wages have increased, players may not stay with a club as long as they had formerly and those top players that have the esteem of the public and in the past had financial need for such assistance make it less likely for the public to support the purpose of these matches. However, testimonial matches for players who have given many years of service to the club (i.e. one-club men) and are popular with fans have a higher turnout.
Testimonials in top-level football have continued to honour a player but have increasingly become charitable affairs, in which the player gives part or all of the proceeds to charitable activities. For example, longtime Sunderland and Republic of Ireland star Niall Quinn, in a "friendly" in 2002 at the Stadium of Light, donated all of the nearly-£1-million proceeds of the match to the charitable foundation he started that go to the support of children's hospitals in Tyne and Wear, Ireland, and India. Another high-profile charitable testimonial was that of England rugby player Martin Johnson, held at Twickenham on 4 June 2005. This event, which featured many rugby union stars, benefited children's and cancer charities. On 4 September 2010, a crowd of 35,682 attended Jamie Carragher's testimonial match at Anfield, after fifteen years of service to Liverpool, and helped to raise more than £1 million for the defender's "23 Foundation" charity.
Examples in association football
- Uruguayan Enzo Francescoli from Argentina's River Plate (1983–1986; 1994–1997) on 1 August 1997 between River Plate and Uruguay's Peñarol at River Plate's stadium Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
- Argentinian Ariel Arnaldo Ortega from Argentina's River Plate (1991–1996; 2000–2002; 2006–2012) on 13 July 2013 between River Plate and Ariel Ortega's friends XI at River Plate's stadium Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
- Argentinian Fernando Cavenaghi from Argentina's River Plate (2001–2004; 2011–2012) on 1 July 2017 between two River Plate legends XI named "White" and "Red" (clubs official colours) at River Plate's stadium Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
- Uruguayan Carlos Alberto Aguilera from Uruguay's Peñarol (1987–1988; 1994–1999) on 24 June 2000 between Peñarol and a stars team of notable players linked with Aguilera at the Estadio Centenario.
- Uruguayan Antonio Pacheco from Uruguay's Peñarol (1994–2000; 2003; 2007–2011; 2012–2015) on 30 July 2016 between Peñarol and an Antonio Pacheco's friends XI at Peñarol's stadium Estadio Campeón del Siglo.
- Uruguayan Rodrigo Nicanor Mora from Argentina's River Plate (2012–2013; 2014–2019) on 13 July 2019 between River Plate and a Rodrigo Mora's friends XI at River Plate's stadium Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
- Argentinian Sebastián Battaglia from Argentina's Boca Juniors (1998–2003; 2005–2013) on 8 July 2015 between two Boca Juniors legends XI named "Blue" and "Yellow" (clubs official colours) at Boca Juniors stadium Estadio La Bombonera Alberto J. Armando.
- Argentinian Ángel Clemente Rojas from Argentina's Boca Juniors (1963–1971) on 27 May 2002 between a Boca Juniors legends XI and an argentinian league's old glories IX at Boca Juniors stadium Estadio La Bombonera Alberto J. Armando.
- Argentinian Diego Milito from Argentina's Racing Club de Avellaneda (1999–2003; 2014–2016) on 12 November 2016 between Racing Club and a Diego Milito's friends XI at Racing Club stadium Estadio El Cilindro Presidente Juan Domingo Perón.
- Argentinian Gabriel Milito from Argentina's Independiente de Avellaneda (1997–2003; 2011–2012) on 26 December 2013 between Independiente and a Gabriel Milito's friends XI at Independiente's stadium Estadio Libertadores de América.
- Brazilian Zico from Japan's Kashima Antlers (1991–1994) on 10 October 1994 between Kashima Antlers and a J-League XI at in a match named "Zico's final Carnival".
- Brazilian Zé Roberto from Brazil's Palmeiras (2015–2017) on 13 January 2019 between Palmeiras and a Zé Roberto's friends XI at Palmeiras Allianz Parque.
- Brazilian Rogério Cení from Brazil's São Paulo F.C. (1992–2015) on 12 December 2015 between São Paulo F.C.'s 1992–1994 XI and São Paulo's 2005 IX (the two São Paulo F.C. 's teams which won the Copa Libertadores at that time being Rogério Ceni part of both) at São Paulo F.C.'s stadium Estádio do Morumbí.
- Brazilian-Qatari Émerson Sheik from Brazil's Corinthians Paulista (2011–2015; 2018) between Corinthians Paulista's 2012 Libertadores champions XI and an Émerson Sheik's friends XI on 7 December 2018.
In addition to many exhibition matches which have been organised to raise funds for good causes, often in the style of an all-star game (such as annual Soccer Aid and Match Against Poverty events), some similar matches have been arranged to honour a particular player at the end of their career, with the proceeds going to charity – examples being Gheorghe Hagi and Tomáš Rosický – but these are not testimonials as they are not organised by a club. There are some other cases of matches to honour dead players as a mourning as Liam Miller's case.
- Benefit (sports)
- Benefit season, a similar concept in cricket.
- List of Testimonial players at St Helens R.F.C.
- Len Cantello Testimonial Match
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 September 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Plate, Club Atletico River. "El último acto del Príncipe". caRiverPlate.com.ar (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- Millonaria, La Página. "Las inolvidables fotos de la despedida de Ortega en el Monumental". La Página Millonaria (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- Plate, Club Atletico River. "Cavenaghi tuvo su Despedida Monumental". caRiverPlate.com.ar (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "El adiós del "Pato"". Tenfield.com (in Spanish). 24 June 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- Peñarol, Club Atlético. ""El Tony" Pacheco se despidió a lo grande". Club Atlético Peñarol (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- Plate, Club Atletico River. "Presentación de la despedida de Rodrigo Mora". caRiverPlate.com.ar (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- Departamento de Prensa de Boca Juniors. (12 June 2015). ""Están todos invitados: Es un orgullo despedirme en mi casa"". www.bocajuniors.com.ar/. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "La Bombonera aplaudió a su hijo pródigo: Rojitas". www.lanacion.com.ar (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Un ídolo, una despedida". Racing Club – Sitio Oficial (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "InfiernoRojo TV: Especial Despedida Gabriel Milito – Todas las noticias de Independiente | InfiernoRojo.com". www.infiernorojo.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "CLUB HISTORY｜KASHIMA ANTLERS OFFICIAL WEBSITE". www.antlers.co.jp. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Palmeiras confirma os nomes presentes na despedida de Zé Roberto – Gazeta Esportiva". www.gazetaesportiva.com. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Zé Roberto se despede do futebol com craques e festa palmeirense na Arena; R10 não aparece". ge (in Portuguese). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "#PraSempreM1TO: Feliz Aniversário, Rogério Ceni! – SPFC". www.saopaulofc.net. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Nos 23 anos da estreia, a SPFCtv mostra como foi a despedida do M1TO – SPFC". www.saopaulofc.net. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Sheik: "Honrado por ter construído essa história na maior instituição do Brasil"". Sport Club Corinthians Paulista (in Portuguese). Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Corinthians e Emerson Sheik acertam jogo de despedida na Arena". Meu Timão (in Portuguese). 19 September 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "Despedida de Emerson Sheik na Arena é transmitida ao vivo por canal de TV". Meu Timão (in Portuguese). 7 December 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
- "David Beckham and son Brooklyn play together in charity match". BBC Sport. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Steven Gerrard stars as Liverpool beat Real Madrid legends in charity match". ESPN. 25 March 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Diego Maradona restrained by security after clashing with Juan Sebastian Veron at Pope's charity game". The Independent. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Henrik Larsson nets hat-trick in Celtic charity match". The Scotsman. 29 May 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Zidane and France 98 teammates beat Fifa 98 team containing Vieri and Bolt – in pictures". The National. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Milner and Petrov XIs draw 3–3 in Match for Cancer". Liverpool F.C. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Hagi takes an all-star bow". BBC Sport. 24 April 2001. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
- "Arsenal legends reunite for Tomas Rosicky's testimonial". Joe. 9 June 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
- "United win Liam Miller tribute game". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 January 2021.