Why even bother mentioning the armbands farrago. I don’t mind a little spinelessness as long as you own it. And you’ve got to admire the Football Association for taking total ownership of their armbands and putting them quietly back in their closet.
Well. This is our fifth men’s FIFA World Cup together, stretching back to 2006. 2006, David Beckham was a player then. Remember him?
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to address the controversy over, usually in England, the national team’s World Cup shirt. Maybe every time. Why, it’s as if the quad-annual shirt controversy was somehow manufactured by the shirt manufacturers to draw attention and generate sales after another exercise in don’t frighten the horses generic design rendered the shirt updates otherwise unnoticed.
And then there were those French shirts from 2010, that made the entire team look like they were built like The Rock, and had been issued with something in XS.
I go back a long way with England shirts. I can remember when the England team, and their opponents played in black and white kits. On grey grass. In stadiums full of grey men. It wasn’t until around 1973 that I saw images of England winning the World Cup on that July day in 1966, in those brightly coloured iconic red shirts. So vivid it looked like an early attempt at retrospective retouching.
I remember when the Admiral sports brand got involved. God that design was sick making. And look at what they started with 70s club sides…
What about the probably not widely reviled Peter Saville design, reviled according to the some parts of the media, for incorporating according to some fans, a little too much inclusivity. Like… Would you put your boy in a kit like that on a Sunday morning training session with other kids. Jesus, what life was like way back in the 2010s.
So what’s up in 2022? England? The controversy. Anything that doesn’t evoke 1966 is a problem, or 1945 and there wasn't even a World Cup in 1945. Of course it's a problem. Those fucking British modernizers. Shirts that weigh several kilo’s more after a rainshower that would generally help to quieten the naysayers. So 2022. Too much blue. Those shirt designers over at Nike, totally unleashed, freelancing, moodboarding or whatever they do do, didn’t check the archives, don’t know anything about football and less about patriotism, probably. 2022 - too much blue. On the shoulder parts. And not even any red. Have you seen the flag of St. George? I know right, barely enough to raise a pulse, a flicker. At least Saville, got St. George bit right, despite his overarching inclusivity. Best to get right with the dead Saints.
Meanwhile, the 2022 World Cup finals will actually feature one of the most radical shirt designs of all time.
Created by Danish sporting goods giant, Hummel, renowned for their work with Everton, Southampton (the Saints!) and AC Horsens. The red Danish national team shirt, designed as a protest against the World Cup being hosted in Qatar, features a muted colour coded red Hummel logo, corporate chevrons and national team badge. A monotone. It’s exceptional. "We've toned down all the details – including our own Hummel logo and chevrons – because even though we love football and the feeling of togetherness it gives us, we don't wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives," said the brand. Brandspeak.
If you’re not watching on TV and still want to see the shirt designs before they reach Qatar, they can be found in this weirdly carbon (and more neutral) feature on Dezeen. Reads like they don’t love the beautiful game all that much though.
Being here again, checking the kits this time, I have to wonder whether it isn’t Project Runway time to help out with 2026? The World Cup Shirts World Cup. How exciting. Come ready to settle your invoices, Netflix, let’s make a deal.
The World Cup at Outsideleft is here (there could be more but I have a train to catch)
World Cup 2022
Toon’s World Cup 2022 Boycott
World Cup 2018
World Cup Shirts
World Cup 2014
I Know It’s Over
World Cup 2010
World Cup 2006
England 95% Off
What to expect from the 2006 World Cup Robotic Giraffes (with David Beckham)