Friday, June 23, 2006

The Best and Worst 2006 World Cup Jerseys

Living overseas as a teen, I'll never forget the day my sleepy town's soccer team won a promotion to the country's top league. The whole city was electrified, and my father brought me home two of the team's new jerseys. Thus began my passion for soccer and for soccer jerseys.

Technically, it doesn't matter what you wear when you play soccer, but I find it hard to cheer for a team that has an ugly jersey. I think this holds true not only on the club level but also on the national level. If I am going to buy and wear your replica jersey, the least you can do is not make it hideous.

Obviously, sometimes you are just stuck with a country that has an unfortunate color pattern going. For example, I am a huge fan of the Argentine national team. Unfortunately, light blue and white vertical stripes are not the most aesthetically pleasing combination. That is why I would only purchase and wear the Argentine team's second jersey, which is usually a sharp-looking navy blue.

Since this is the last day of group play in the World Cup, and half of the teams will be going home now, I thought I would round up the best and the worst of this year's team jerseys.

Some generalizations first: if you are a very poor country, or an Islamic country, your jersey will probably be made by Puma (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Angola, Togo, Paraguay, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia). Switzerland, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic buck the trend by also using Puma jerseys. Puma is by far the largest manufacturer at this World Cup, and I think they've done a decent but boring job. I like that all of the jerseys have the same design in the back and lowercase font for the names. The African jerseys are cool because of the nice colors (green and orange for Ivory Coast, yellow and green for Togo). Unfortunately, Poland and Switzerland have basically the same red and white boring jersey. Italy's all-blue outfit is an abomination with it's gold numbers and lettering. Also, I think the Puma jerseys look cheap because they don't seem to absorb any sweat at all. The players look like they've been doused with a bucket of water.

If you're wearing a Nike jersey, you're probably going to the second round (Brazil, the Netherlands, Portugal, Mexico, Australia) (sorry U.S., Korea, and Croatia). Nike's jerseys are always clean and classic. I especially like Portugal's wine and green colored jersey.

Umbro has only two teams, England and Sweden, and they decided to stitch into the shoulder seams an awful-looking St. George's and Scandinavian cross respectively. Umbro is usually a quality manufacturer; I don't know what got into them this year. England's second jersey is solid red and thankfully doesn't have the cross in the shoulder seam, but it does have reflective gold numbers on the back. I think Umbro really dropped the ball.

My wife commented favorably on Lotto's Serbian and Ukrainian kits. I don't like the asterisk pattern, but I have to admit that these are the only jerseys that take advantage of the shorts.

Adidas runs the gamut this year, in my opinion: from boring (Germany) to sublime (Trinidad & Tobago) to classic (Japan, Argentina) to awful (France and Spain). The new Darth Vader collars are really ugly too.

The two dark horses are Costa Rica sporting an amateurish jersey by Joma, and Ecuador with an even worse jersey by Marathon. It looks like a jungle cat has scratched the Ecuadorian national colors into the middle of the jersey.

Best Jersey: Trinidad and Tobago. Classic and simple with bold piping, and I love the asymmetry of the design around the neck.

Worst Jersey: (tie) Ecuador and Italy.

What do you think?


Tom said...

I hate asymmetry.

Portugal has the most attractive color scheme. I love the maroon.

Argentina's dark blues are sharp.

Brazil's yellow shirt/blue shorts kit is great. The white shorts suck.

MaioCampo said...

I have to say as a Portugal RM that I like Portugal's jersey.

I like Brazil as well and sport a Brazil cap with around town (who woulda thunk that Portugal would field as good a team as they have?)

I like the Sweden yellow (Steelers fan here).

I chuckle at the Netherlands' jerseys... the numbers look like someone fashioned them after electric tape.

Aw heck... as a player and fan, soccer is a damn good sport in my eyes and I like them all. Just play the game!


NFlanders said...

Tom-- I totally agree on Brazil's white shorts. They looked like half-peeled bananas out there.

MaioCampo-- Great call on the Dutch player numbers. During the Neth/Arg match, I was staring at a jersey and I couldn't tell for the life of me whether it was a 13 or an 8. It was a 13, I think. Or a B.

NFlanders said...

Also-- please note that some of the links above may not go to the corresponding photo. The FIFA photo sets are apparently dynamic. D'oh!

I would have included all the photos, but I couldn't get Blogger to display them.

Anubis Anonymous said...

I like the Dutch jerseys this year. While Orange might be considered an extreme color, it's traditional for the Netherlands, and Nike did a great job giving the jerseys an old school 90's collar look.

The Dutch away jersey in particular really has a nice feel to it.

I also like the American jersey (what a shame we won't see it anymore). The only problem with the American kit is the cheesy three star shield. That crest needs an update since it currently reeks of Youth Soccer.

For worst jeseys, France, Italy and Germany take the crown. Adidas likes these minimalist curves and colors that are way too understated. When you're watch the game from any reasonable distance, you want to clearly know your team by its kit.

The Dutch with their bright, awesome orange know this. That's why they have the sweetest jerseys in the Cup.

NFlanders said...

Anubis-- It doesn't look like we'll see the Dutch away jersey at all this tournament. I thought we'd have to see it for certain against the Ivory Coast, but no luck.

Maybe the Dutch orange and Portuguese maroon will be too close, and we'll see it next game. Is it navy blue with orange accents?

Speaking of which, I wonder why so few club teams utilize navy blue. It almost always looks good.

Stephen said...

My wife is a Brazil fan all the way ;)

She even speaks two dialects.

Anonymous said...

WORST is Italy, and who would expect such an abysmal jersey from such a stlylish country.

The problem with them is the color scheme (dark shading under the arms) looks like armpit-sweat stains (at least on TV).

It is a horrible look..

Anonymous said...


You really need to get an RSS feed link for this blog. Can you even get those with Blogger?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me.

Seth R.

Hellmut said...

Hey! There is nothing boring about the German Jerseys! Their colors reflect the Prussian flag, which in turn represents the heritage of the Teutonic Knights.

Imperialist and intolerant, may be, but definitely not boring.

Don in DC said...

I remember the great jersey worn by Germany when they won in 1990. The white shirt had a black colllar and a black/red/yellow stripe around the chest that dipped like a lightning bolt below the crest. I wish I'd bought one then! Does anyone know where I might find one?

NFlanders said...

Don-- I'm glad someone else understands my obsession. I'm sure there is some site out there that sells a used 1990 Germany World Cup jersey... though you may need to pay in Euros.

On a related topic, I have to say that I love the new Euro 2008 German jerseys. I didn't think anyone could make that white jersey interesting, but Adidas has succeeded. I love the rounded black, red, and yellow detail on the front. I may have to do a new post on Euro 2008 jerseys.

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