Kit Capsule 2021: Old Badge Breeds Bad Blood in Florence

There’s a real retro feel to this season’s Fiorentina shirts by Kappa.

Think of the Opel sponsored Ennerre shirts worn by Sócrates in his only season at what was then the Stadio Comunale and you see what Kappa are going for.

Socrates, Fiorentina
Socrates wears the Pontello era battle-axe badge in his only season in Serie A

Whilst this season’s set of Fiorentina shirts has delighted all those with a penchant for classic Serie A styling, the return to the club’s 1980s badge has not gone down so well in Florence.

Fiorentina were taken over by Flavio Pontello in 1980 and the man who’d made his money building houses, had a look around the old place and decided he needed to make some changes.

Out went the club’s anthem and most controversially, their fleur-de-lis badge, a symbol borrowed from the city of Florence itself; was not to Pontello’s taste and was given a makeover.

Fiorentina, 2021-22, Kappa, Kit
Striker Dušan Vlahović in this season’s Fiorentina shirt by Kappa

If you’ve ever experienced rich new owners coming into your club and messing with the traditions handed down from generation to generation, then you’ll understand a little of why this behaviour caused so much anguish among Fiorentina’s fans.

Then, after 10 years that saw i Viola challenge for domestic and international honours but somehow keep losing out to Juventus; them crooked economic vultures began to circle around Pontello and he started selling off the club’s prime talent to stave off bankruptcy.

Fiorentina avoided relegation from Serie A on the final day of the 1989-90 season, but would lose to Juve once more in that year’s UEFA Cup Final.

Fiorentina, 2021-22, Kappa, Kit
Fiorentina’s femminile team in the full kit by Kappa

All this was nothing compared to the anger Fiorentina’s fans felt when their idol, Roberto Baggio, was sold to their fierce rivals from Turin for what was then a world record fee of around £8m.

The tifosi took to the streets, reportedly armed with chains, bricks and Molotov cocktails and Pontello was finally forced to leave the club after days of rioting had left 50 people injured.

Therefore, the half fleur-de-lis/half “F” emblem became synonymous with the unpopular owner and whilst romantic fans of retro kits rejoiced at its return, those among Fiorentina’s faithful with longer memories were not so enamoured by the return of a badge they never really thought was “all that” anyway.

Fiorentina, 2021-22, Kappa, Kit
Fiorentina’s collection of 3rd, 4th, home and away shirts by Kappa

Of course there are those among the Gigliati (The Lilies) fanbase who see past the bad blood and animosity and see the shirts as beautiful designs in their own right, but it feels like the club’s current board have misjudged the situation.

As neutrals we might love Kappa’s nod to the past, yet this would be like QPR fans having Flavio Briatore’s opulent crest plastered across their shirts for a season, or Manchester United and adidas releasing a Glazer family tribute kit, only multiplied by at least ten.

Lovely looking shirts as these are, some things, like the old Pontello era Fiorentina battle axe badge, should just be left alone.

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