Monthly Archives: April 2016

Worst Soccer Kits

A soccer kit (for the uninitiated, the wee British term for a soccer uniform) creates the identity of the team. The home kit is iconic, centered around a core club color or two, and gives fans a way to be recognized as fans of a particular team instantly.

The away and third kits vary from year to year – it gives designers a landscape for play, clubs a yearly chance to change looks (and sell jerseys), and in some unintentionally entertaining instances, an occasion to celebrate Mistakes That Were Made in lists like this. Though, as we’ll see, it’s easy for designers to screw up home kits as well—especially in the early ‘90s, the Golden Age of Terrible Kits.

1. Cardiff City (Home), 2012-13

Sometimes, a jersey can look just fine, and yet terribly wrong in the eyes of the fans. Since 1910, Cardiff City (Nickname: “The Bluebirds”) had blue jerseys. But new owner Vincent Tan, knowing that red brings good luck, and dragons bring good luck, and that the Welsh flag has a red dragon on it, decided to transform the team’s jersey (from blue to red, and with a dragon hovering above a small bluebird on the crest) to “turn the club’s fortunes around” (read: sell crazy amounts of Cardiff City jerseys in Asia).

You could argue that it worked; in its first year in the red jerseys, Cardiff won promotion to the Premier League, and initially looked like a team that might stay up under the guidance of manager Malky Mackay. But Tan fired Mackay mid-season, the team floundered, and home crowds still showed up in blue jerseys – in part to adhere to tradition, but in larger part in defiance of Tan’s leadership. Next year, Cardiff will be wearing its good luck jerseys in the Championship.

2. Deportivo Wanka (Home), 2003

This Peruvian side rolled out this mildly terrible home kit in 2003, with a very unfortunate treatment of the club name, particularly if you’re a Wanka fan in England. Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.

3. Liverpool (Away and Third Kit), 2013-14

Warrior, fairly new to the soccer kit-making game when it won the Liverpool account, wanted to make a splash with the alternatives to the classic, can’t-possibly-screw-these-up home reds. The away kit featured an awful red and black flecking and bizarre red stripes down the front of the jersey (and on to the shorts!), distracting from what could have been a simple white design, and the third kit was a purple and black quilt of awfulness. The “Rise Up” campaign featured pictures of Liverpool players barely able to conceal their disbelief and disdain for the jerseys.

4. Recreation Huelva (Away) 2012-13

To paraphrase Lil Jon collaborating with LMFAO, “Dots! Dots! Dots! Dots! Dots! EVERYBODY!” Polka dots somehow look great on Tour de France racing jerseys, but something gets lost in the translation to soccer.

5. Shrewsbury Town (Home) 1992-93

Diamonds are forever. Fortunately for Shrewsbury fans, diamonds only lasted one year on this ill-advised home kit.

6. Arsenal (Away), 1991

Although Arsenal fans associate yellow away kits with great seasons, this particular jersey is awash in a confusing array of upward and downward pointing chevrons, with Adidas’ three stripes somewhere in the mix. Shockingly, one of Adidas’ last offerings for the club before Nike took over in 1994.

7. Huddersfield Town (Away), 1991-92

Just one question on these red-and-blue tie-dye jerseys: Did they make them themselves?

8. Chelsea (Away), 1994-96

Dismal gray was paired with solar orange and unfortunate stripes to make the magic happen for this mid-’90s offering for a club that typically does better with its away kits (save for the recent blue shoulder grid on black offering).

Swiss Soccer Jersey Fails

Puma SE became the latest sportswear brand to suffer an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction after several players on the Swiss national soccer team had their jerseys torn in a match against France at the European Championship.

At least four of Switzerland’s red jerseys were torn in the course of Sunday’s game, which resulted in a 0-0 draw, leaving players running around with large parts of their backs exposed until they could get a replacement from the bench. Three of them ripped around the numbers.

Puma on Monday said it has opened an investigation into the cause of the tattered jerseys.

“Our analysis of the Swiss home jersey from Sunday’s game shows that there was one batch of material, where yarns had been damaged during the production process, leading to a weakening in the final garment,” the German company said.

The sportswear maker said the defective material, a mix of elastane and polyester, “was used in only a limited number of Swiss home jerseys.” Puma said a check of its inventory found no problems for the four other national teams whose jerseys it sponsored in the tournament.

Asked about the ripped jerseys in his post-match press conference, Switzerland manager Vladimir Petković joked, “Do you sell Nike products?”

“If a shirt is pulled, occasionally they can come apart at the seams,” he added.

“What can I say? It can happen. That means that it was a fight on the pitch,” Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer said after the game. “I can’t say that we have to change, because Puma is great!”

Sportswear malfunctions in professional sports are an occasional headache for manufacturing companies.

Runner Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who is endorsed by Nike Inc., shuffled through the majority of the 2015 Berlin Marathon with the insoles of his Nike sneakers flapping in the wind, winning the race but coming up short on his goal of breaking the world record.

At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, members of the U.S. speedskating team blamed their poor performance on their Under Armour Inc. skinsuits.

Some skaters thought the suits caused too much drag and it became a point of tension within the team for the duration of the Games.

An Under Armour seamstress traveling with the team made adjustments on the fly to assuage the skaters.

The Swiss jerseys weren’t the only piece of equipment to fail on Sunday night in Lille. Caught in a particularly physical clash between Swiss defender Valon Behrami and France’s Antoine Griezmann—or at least their cleats—the match ball burst.

The “Beau Jeu” edition soccer ball had been manufactured specifically for the tournament by Adidas AG.

An Adidas spokeswoman said Monday the ball incident was “extremely rare” and the company was examining “how this could have occurred.”

National Soccer Team Jerseys Tips For Men

When a national soccer team wins a FIFA World Cup, it marks the accomplishment by embroidering a small star onto its uniforms—the sporting equivalent of Dr. Seuss’sSneetches on Beaches. After Germany’s men’s team won in Brazil this summer, its fourth World Cup victory, Adidas couldn’t keep up with demand for the team’s new four-star jerseys. In the U.S., the men’s national team has zero stars; the women’s team has two. Nike sells replica jerseys for both, and their design, other than the stars, is the same. Nike doesn’t, however, sell the two-starred jerseys in men’s sizes.

The small symbols have large significance. And their absence in men’s sizes has frustrated at least one customer wanting to display his allegiance to the women’s team at the 2015 World Cup in Canada next June. On this week’s Men in Blazers podcast, a weekly chat on all things soccer by two British expats, hosts Michael Davies and Roger Bennett discussed an e-mail from a reader complaining that he was “stuck either wearing a jersey without the stars or trying to squeeze into a youth jersey.” Bennett addressed the apparel brand directly: “Nike, it’s a plea from us to you: Don’t be sexist. Let us support our women without losing our dignity.”

Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins confirms that the company does not offer jerseys with stars in men’s sizes. The converse is also true: Jerseys without stars do not come in women’s sizes. Nike, Wilkins says, fears that adding stars to the men’s replicas would be interpreted as a false claim that the men had won two World Cups.

In any case, if there are scores of frustrated men looking for a pair of “stars upon thars,” they’re keeping quiet about it. “We’ve rarely heard this be an issue,” Wilkins says. A visit to the WNBA online store suggests that Adidas, like Nike, doesn’t offer women’s replica gear in men’s sizes, though sleeveless basketball jerseys are basically unisex.

Nike, says Wilkins, would be open to selling women’s replicas for men if the two jerseys were not otherwise identical.