Euro 2020(1): The 200% Kit Review
Each major international tournament draws immediate attention to the kits being worn by the competing nations. So, with football kit design having reached strange and interesting new places over the last couple of years, here’s Edward Carter with a rundown of who’ll be wearing what, and loudly we should be laughing at it all.
GROUP A begins with a prime example of exactly how it should be done. TURKEY will wear white with a red chest band bearing their flag’s crescent moon and star. Their change colours feature an identical design in two-tone red. It is all any football team needs to express the fundamental truth that they are representing Turkey and that’s all you could reasonably hope or expect. Turkey: I commend their kit to the house.
ITALY retain a traditional colour palate but the shirts themselves are intricately and ornately patterned. Someone, somewhere in the bowels of the Puma factory has managed to get hold of a Jacquard loom. Nevertheless, both the first choice and change strips look pretty much OK. The ludicrous, completely unnecessary, bottle green third strip however should be ritually burnt as the preposterous marketing ploy it is.
WALES have some standard Adidas templates and as such look very smart. However, the choice of yellow trim instead of white seems wilfully unusual. Yellow is also favoured over white for the change colours which, combined with green shorts, leaves Wales looking more like Australia. There’s also a disappointing lack of dragons.
SWITZERLAND‘s kit is a mess – a conglomeration of several different designs hurled at a wall to see which ones stick. The use of deep red, rather than white, as the second colour is wholly unsuccessful and ugly and I hate it. Their change kit is less offensive on the eye but just as vexatious on the other organs: an all white kit featuring interlaced stripes in four different colours. The design is presumably meant to evoke the Alps, whilst the four colours are meant to represent the four different official languages of the country: French, Swiss, German and wait, did I already say Swiss? Latin?
The Swiss kit also features the Helvetica typeface for all numbering and lettering, so as to ramp up the Swissness of the whole affair. It’s a reasonably interesting concept but could yet be the thin end of the wedge, if Switzerland turn up for World Cup qualifying dressed in a kit fully armoured with Toblerones. And besides, I’ve always been more partial to Frutiger, as Swiss typography goes.
GROUP B is far more of a blessed relief. DENMARK‘s kit – made by Hummel, as should be law – only features one daft gimmick, which is a sublimated waveform graphic across both shirts. Apparently this was taken from a spirited rendition of the Danish national anthem by a crowd of 34,000 assembled for a match against Ireland in 2019. So there you go.
FINLAND have never qualified for a tournament finals before and are rather pleasingly going to be wearing their own flag as a first choice kit. Their all blue change colours are also suitably refined and Finnish. I hope they do well.
BELGIUM have reverted to a more traditional all-red colour scheme and although the shirt features great swathes of needless embellishment, it doesn’t detract from the overall Belgium of proceedings. Change colours are an off-the-peg all white Adidas number.
RUSSIA perservere with their slow and steady transformation back to the Soviet Union. Their first strip is now just lacking the “CCCP” and a May Day parade of ICBMs through Red Square, both presumably slated for a later date. The away kit is a busier effort which is supposed to reflect the colours of the national flag. Apparently Adidas’ first effort accidentally got the blue and red bars in the wrong order. The offending designer has not been seen with fingernails or functioning kneecaps in some time.
GROUP C is a goulash of oranges and reds simply bound to make anyone’s fruit bowl feel a pinch of envy. THE NETHERLANDS persist with their recent trend, an all-orange kit with black trim. It’s distinctively and obviously a Dutch kit, but personally I’ve always preferred white as their accent colour. Their change colours are a mirrored version of the first strip. Shrug. Of more immediate concern is the florid sublimated pattern that festoons the shirt. It is supposed to be the mane of the Dutch lion but looks like its pubes.
UKRAINE‘s kit is all yellow and their change colours are all blue. The longer they are in the tournament, the more elements of Russia’s kit will be represented, starting with one red sock and then one of those furry hats.
AUSTRIA‘s kit looks like a child’s drawing of a strawberry, with white sleeves. A horrendous spectacle, it reminds us all that up until recently, Austria played in white and black with red as their change colours. I’m actually OK with the switch to red and white – Austria in white and black was always a bit Anschlussy for my tastes – but it does rather hinge on white and black being retained for the change colours. Instead, when there’s a colour clash at Euro 2020(1), Austria will be resplendent in a ghastly Art Deco print black and turquoise affair. Like a photograph of a snake eating a duck.
NORTH MACEDONIA are representing the Northern Macedonians at a major finals for the first time. Agonisingly, their magnificent yellow and red sunburst flag is not represented in their kit, a major opportunity for some Brasso tin kit fun thrown away. Instead, they will play in a refined and smart wine red kit, with a geometric lynx pattern. Fair enough, but imagine the fun we could have been having. Their change colours are white and third (!) kit is all black.
GROUP D is the worst group, containing as it does two representatives of Europe’s lousiest country. ENGLAND go into a major international tournament wearing a kit that doesn’t make me want to tear my fucking eyes out for the first time since I don’t even know when, so that’s a blessed relief. Their change kit, however, is all royal blue. England famously wore all-blue for their 1-0 defeat to the United States at the 1950 World Cup and as such, this cynical unit-shifting ploy will hopefully have similiarly humiliating and hubristic consequences.
CROATIA are, of course, possessed of the best kit in international football. However, I’m always at a loss to explain why they don’t carry the checkered pattern over into their change colours. Instead, they persist with a kit similar to the change colours they wore at the 2018 World Cup, all black and the inside of a cataract.
SCOTLAND (stop laughing at the back) return to an international tournament finals for the first time since 1998 with some rather plain Adidas efforts: all navy blue for the first choice and all white for the change kit. It’s a bit of a shame they’re so dull, because Scotland have form for some exceptional kits. My own personal favourite was the yellow and pink hooped affair, the traditional colours of Lord Rosebery. While we’re on the subject of suggested improvements, the first kit needs white shorts and red socks.
The CZECH REPUBLIC seem to have abandoned their attempt to rebrand as Czechia for the time being but on the plus side, have produced a very smart red and blue kit. The all-lime green change colours are rather more challenging, but it is supposed to represent the leaves of the linden tree, graphics of which subtly cover both shirts. The linden tree is a popular symbol representing freedom in Slavic countries, but is more famous in the UK for being the tree that smells like spunk. Does the kit smell like spunk? Watch this space. (Edit: he’s just booked an Uber to a garden centre.)
GROUP E is one of the more aesthetically pleasing. SPAIN‘s traditional colours have been embellished by some sort of Piet Mondrian-inspired graphical pattern but is sturdy enough to stand up to the assault. It is backed up by a plain white change strip. Really, all anyone needs is an all-white change strip.
SWEDEN have gone darker with their blue than in previous years but the overall effect is so relentlessly Swedish you’ll hardly notice. Their change strip persists with pinstripes, which is good news for everyone.
POLAND will, unsurprisingly enough, be playing in a Poland kit. The eagle crest has been brought into the centre of the chest, though, which is a nice touch. They should have made it bigger.
SLOVAKIA are a bit more of a challenge. They are another country who have gone for two-tone, rather than a contrasting accent colour. As such, they’re playing in a blue and bluer kit, the shirt of which features a graphic print of what appears to be the surface of the moon but is supposed to represent the Tatra mountains. Just because the technology exists to create all these elaborate sublimated prints, you don’t HAVE to use it, you know? Still, at least they have listened to me with regard to their change colours, which are plain white.
GROUP F is probably the group of death, for people who care about such things. I only care about kits, and there are eight of them on display. HUNGARY are keeping it fairly traditional, although their home shirt features – shock – a sublimated graphical pattern. This one is meant to be evocative of the waves of the River Danube, although maybe it is supposed to be the waves of filthy immigrants that their country’s vile President imagines every time he closes his stupid eyes. The prick.
PORTUGAL are the reigning champions (stop laughing at the back) and have at long last abandoned their all-red strip for a welcome return of green shorts. It looks good, which is a relief because their change colours were designed by a child on a bus. An all-silver kit peppered with hoops made up of black, red and green. It looks like cross channel interference on an old CRT television set.
FRANCE boil my piss on a recreational basis at this stage. Their change colours are good enough to eat – all white with their traditional red and blue Adidas stripes (doubly impressive, as this is a Nike kit). The first choice colours, however, are a complete dog’s dinner. Positives include the red chest bar, making a welcome return to action, and the red socks. Negatives include everything else, including the sick-making array of different shades of blue and the lack of while shorts. This is a relegation kit and I hope it hurts.
Finally, GERMANY have stopped messing about, with a reasonably traditional white and black kit. The pinstripe hoops are perhaps a bit needless but I’ll allow it. The change colours are as black as the album cover of Smell The Glove by Spinal Tap. They could get none more black. As well as the kit, the trim pieces are also in black with only the typography in a contrasting white colour. Presumably so as to keep Guy Mowbray’s hair from spontaneously bursting into flames.