From Beckham’s mohawk, to Messi’s beard, fashion is a huge part of football. So we’ve done our sartorial duty and ranked every one of the 32 World Cup kits to be appearing at this month’s tournament. But which nation will reign supreme?
With the state of world affairs at a pitiful low, we can only thank the gods above for the forthcoming World Cup. One of the things that makes football so universally beloved is that it’s about far more than just sportsmanship. National pride and entertainment have always been essential to the beautiful game, as has style, undoubtedly — which is where we come in.
In anticipation of this year’s tournaments in Russia, we’ve ranked the World Cup kits of the 32 competing teams from worst to best. Like the characters in a riotous spaghetti Western, some are good, some are bad and some are downright ugly.
Senegal decided to play around with a lion motif for its World Cup kit. At least we think that’s a lion staring at us. It could be a tiger. Listen, we’re not zoologists, all we can say is that this jersey takes the cake in terms of tastelessness.
This jersey looks as unsightly as Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music sounds. The emblem is all right and all, but what’s going on with that collar? We thought the Nehru had been consigned to history, as with powdered wigs before it. Go for Nehru collars on blazers, but for the love of the game, keep them off the field.
The Spanish football team has obviously been spending far too much time at their local McDonald’s PlayPlace. That’s the only explanation we have for this monstrous melange of red, purple, and yellow. The Spaniards might be one of the tournament’s favourites, but this kit is getting dumped out in the group stages.
Is this a jersey fit for a world-class football team, or the outfit of a Marvel superhero that never made it on paper? Only the Colombians would know the answer to this one. The Colombians and Stan Lee, that is.
This is what happens when you leave it to Timon and Pumbaa to design a football jersey. Yellow all around with zebra stripes? Mufasa would be disgusted.
A novel approach here by the Swiss: blending the aesthetics of splattered brains and regurgitated spaghetti to ghastly effect. As they did in the Second World War, this lot might have done better to stay neutral in terms of their shirt design.
As it turns out, there is something worse than the painfully outdated baby blue football jersey: a painfully outdated baby blue football jersey with an emblazoned sun on the front. One can only hope that Uruguay’s footballing will prove more contemporary.
We’re all for “retro” every now and then, but Morocco’s national jersey, with its chunky block numbering and excessive use of white lines, looks as if it was cannoned out of the Seventies. We can almost hear Steely Dan jamming away in the background.
Four words sum up our thoughts here, and not in a good way: Fruit Of The Loom.
23. South Korea
Not even the tiger can save this Seoul-starved jersey from looking bland
As recent events have shown, Russia doesn’t care what the world thinks of it. That’s just as well, seeing as this red-and-white affair is bang average.
Would it be too much to ask for a Lego-themed jersey? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean you have to be boring when it comes to your kits, Denmark. To your credit, though, the typography on that emblem is far out.
The Iranians had no shortage of imagery to play around with, from ancient Persian symbols and mythological creatures to medieval miniatures and beautiful calligraphy. But no – they thought a boring old tee would be more befitting. Cyrus the Great is rolling in his grave.
19. Costa Rica
Who knew that the Iranians and Costa Ricans shared the same taste in insipid football jerseys? Someone at Fedefutbol needs to get on the phone with their kit sponsor. That’s the Costa Rican Football Federation, fact fans.
Few places in the world are as colourful and lively as Mexico. Considering this, it’s almost heartbreaking to think its players will be clad in such a drab kit. Whatever happened to that far-out Mesoamerican-themed one from 1998? Those were the days.
If Jack and Meg White were footballers, they wouldn’t be able to resist throwing on a couple of Serbian football jerseys. Featuring a very chic coat of arms and accented throughout with a healthy dose of white, it’ll serve the Serbs well in their fight against a 31-nation army.
While lacking in the inspiration department, the Egyptian jersey isn’t all that bad. We dig the vibrant hue of red its opted for, as well as the subtle chequered pattern in the background and use of black as a contrasting trim.
The only thing saving England’s home jersey from being a piece of M&S underwear is the legendary Three Lions emblem. Given its place in history and sheer visual appeal, its all this shirt really needs.
Spartan and no-nonsense, this jersey embodies the very spirit of the German team. Being this year’s World Cup favourite, the Germans don’t need a fancy design – they just need something über efficient.
13. Saudi Arabia
Their biggest export – oil – may be crude and unrefined, but this jersey definitely isn’t. Like the Nigerians, they have us daydreaming about spearmint gum and all, thanks to their very minty-looking kit for this year’s Cup. Less is more, as the Saudi national team shows. Unless we’re talking about goals…
In contrast to the extravagance for which their haute couture is so prized and famed, the national jersey of the French is modestly and beautifully blue. And no one, of course, rocks a cock like the French.
If you’ve ever wondered what a running, sweating, growling, panting bottle of Sobieski vodka looks like – one look at the Polish national jersey will do much to jog your imagination. Minimalistic, refined and elegant, with just the right amount of detail, the Polish kit hits all the right notes.
This shirt shakes things up on every level. The placement of the emblem in the centre of the jersey is a departure from the ordinary, and so as is the horizontal Burberry-esque pattern. It’s the dark horse of these rankings, just like the Belgians themselves in the tournament proper.
What’s there not to like about Iceland? Friendly people, volcanoes, Björk – and now, football jerseys. This no-frills jersey is uncomplicated and classy, with just the right amount of embellishment added by the detailing on the collar and red gradations on the shoulders. Russia today, Valhalla tomorrow!
Like Brazil, Sweden has been blessed with a delicious little flag. As such, it requires a particular talent to make a hash of any jersey associated with it. We’re loving the vibrant colours here, as well as the collar that gives it the feel of a polo shirt. We only wish it wouldn’t bring to mind cheap furniture and missing screws.
There’s an aura of royalty surrounding the jersey of Portugal’s national team. Maybe it’s thanks to the sumptuous emblem it boasts. Or the very smart-looking green collar, which helps accentuate the dominant lush red. Whatever the case, we don’t know why Ronaldo is always so eager to take this gorgeous jersey off.
It’s only natural that the nation we have to thank for Comme Des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and the denim to beat all other denim has us turning our heads already. Opting to embroider their flag on a tastefully patterned blue background rather than going for a plain old white-and-red colour scheme, the effect is simply sublime.
Forget about Neymar, this jersey is the Brazilian team’s MVP. Simple and beautiful, like the game itself, it’s impossible to look and feel less than a million wearing one of these, which look like sunshine in garment form.
Ah, those stylish Peruvians. If regal is the effect Peru was going for when it designed this jersey, regal is what it got. ‘Cos you can’t actually wear a sash while dribbling a ball between your legs, you can always just stitch a mock one on your top.
Undoubtedly one of the most well-known in kits football, the appeal of Argentina’s getup lies in its pastel colour combination and use of vertical lines, which make for a flattering slimming effect. Messi is going to look dapper as hell when he’s lifting that trophy.
Inspired by its chessboard coat-of-arms, Croatia’s eye-catching kit is something we’d be comfortable sporting both on and off the field, making it a thing of rare beauty in football jerseydom. From a people who gave us the cravat, we expected no less. Checkmate.
Nigeria’s offering for the 2018 Cup is eccentric and off-the-wall in the best possible way. The heady mixture of cool green, white, and black evoke sensations of spearmint gum, while the blurred chevrons ooze cool. The bad news? It’s already sold out in the UK.