It was a big week of Champions League action with lots of interest in the kits worn by Europe’s elite clubs.
This year has seen another string of top tier teams provided special edition strips for European competition, by major brands like Puma, Nike and adidas.
That’s seen clubs like the FCBs of Barcelona and Bayern stepping out in street-smart kits that have split opinion between fans who prefer a more traditional look, and those fashion-forward supporters who just can’t get enough of spectacular shirts with graphical representations of mountain ranges and cityscapes drawn across their heroes’ torsos.
Perhaps much of the demand for the variety in choice of kits that any one team can wear on a Tuesday or Wednesday night in Tiraspol, comes from games like FIFA and PES where gamers can flick between the designs available and select what their team will look like as well as the players who will take to the field.
This is not a new thing of course, fans of Subutteo often hand-painted their own favourite kits before crushing plenty of little plastic men and reaching for the super glue to fix their miniature heroes.
Amid the dizzying designs on display this week, no team caught the eye quite like Borussia Dortmund.
BVB often wear a separate kit for cup competitions but received their version of Puma’s controversial 2021-22 3rd shirts late after fans reacted to leaked images of the proposed design with a fair and understandable degree of hostility.
Drawing on the positives, from a distance, the luminous 90s look of the kit looked stunning on the pitch as Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland helped BVB to a 2-1 win over Besiktas in Istanbul.
The central issue here is the lack of the Borussia Dortmund badge at the heart of the design.
The noise around the kit led to an apology from Puma:
“We regret the fans’ anger and would like to apologise to them,” Gulden told dpa. “The fans’ criticism relates to the fact that the BVB logo is merely incorporated into the material tone-on-tone several times, as well as embossed on the chest of the jersey in a larger size, but is just not clearly highlighted as the club crest.”
“We have really taken the feedback to heart and will take it into account for future jerseys – just as we have done in the past.”Björn Gulden, Puma CEO
All publicity is good publicity as they say and there are those who love the new direction the brand have taken with this season’s designs.
We just wish they’d followed the same brief as the clean, minimalist Italy away shirts from Euro 2020 that gave proper reverence to the national team’s badge of honour.
Elsewhere, the inclusion of “Three Little Birds” on the back of Ajax’s shirt threw UEFA into a flap.
Those elegant little details had tied the popular adidas jersey to the Bob Marley song that became a terrace anthem for the Amsterdam club, but fell foul of regulations that dictates the nature of symbols that can be shown on a shirt in European competition.
According to UEFA, “graphic identifications” must be either a team emblem, mascot, club symbol, national flag or symbol, or the coat of arms or flag of the team’s city or region.
As football fans rolled their eyes at those pesky, bureaucratic fun-sponges and their rules meant to protect the sanctity of the football shirt, we wonder if this season’s Puma designs will prompt governing bodies to provide protective status to what must be the most important feature on any team’s jersey; the club badge.
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