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?