French Farce: Ou est les Bleus?

Don’t you just hate it when you turn up to an event to find a rival wearing the same outfit?

As France lined up in the Argentine coastal resort of Mar del Plata to face Hungary at the 1978 World Cup, they spied a problem underneath their opponents’ anthem jackets.

Both sides had turned up in white shirts.

With black and white television still a relatively common feature, Hungary had been instructed to change from their trademark red to avoid a clash with France’s blue.

As the official “home” side, France had made a fashion faux-pas but faced a bigger problem; their regular blue shirts were hundreds of miles away in Buenos Aires.

Merde.

With the world waiting for the match to start, local club Club Atlético Kimberley lent their kits to les Bleus and France turned out in unfamiliar green and white striped shirts with an array of strange squad numbers.

The game itself was a dead rubber with both sides knowing they had already been eliminated from a group which also included Italy, and hosts Argentina who would ultimately be crowned champions. France won 3-1 with goals from Christian Lopez, Marc Berdoll and Dominique Rocheteau.

Kit men across the world regularly make mistakes, but forty years on from the French farce that put the small coastal club of Club Atlético Kimberley on football’s cultural map, we should not forget what remains one of the strangest episodes in World Cup history.

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