International football kit design is not an area in which it is easy to make mistakes. The basic colours and styles have long been traditionally established, often to the point of also being the team’s nickname, and you don’t have any fiddly or awkwardly coloured sponsors logos to factor in. And yet some countries continue to get it all wrong, all very, very wrong. Here Twinty Tin looks at those who have taken to the field with all the sartorial style of Dame Edna Everage
Before I continue with the tounge-twister that is the Twinty Tin Top Tin Worst World Cup Kits I should point out that I am excluding kits from this year’s tournament. So Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Slovenia can sleep easy knowing that their respective affronts to the notion of an away kit will not appear on such a list for another four years at least. And, for ease of purpose, I am also excluding goalkeeper kits from this list. The chief reason being that as Mexico’s Jorge Campos illustrates below, they would render the whole exercise pointless… even more so than it already is.
10. France (third) 1978
This kit is unique within this top ten as unlike the other inclusions this one is nobody’s fault. It hasn’t been crafted in a studio by a frustrated fashion student who had expected to be dressing waif-like models in see-through lingerie in their working life and not putting footballers in polyester. Instead it is born by accident and chance. As yet no-one has designed a kit featuring green and white striped shirts, blue shorts and red socks, this thankfully just came about due to a kit clash causing France to borrow the shirts of a local amateur club in order to face Hungary in this 1978 Group game.
9. Ecuador (home), 2006
Ecuador’s home kit of 2006 makes the top ten because it came so close to being a decent strip, only to fall apart at the last minute. When your traditional colours are the three primary ones then you will always be hard-pressed to include them all in an attractive kit, yet a designer at Marathon had just about cracked it and took his design of red socks, blue shorts and yellow shirts with blue sleeves to the company board. Sadly though they did not go with his final design, and inexplicably picked an earlier draft, one where the designer had mistakenly dropped his red and blue felt tips on the body of the shirt, before he’d got round to colouring the other sleeve in.
8. Russia (away) 1994
Following the break up of the Soviet Union, Russia was having something of an identity crisis. They had competed at the 1990 World Cup as the USSR, and then at the 1992 European Championships as the CIS, before taking to the field for their first World Cup finals as Russia in 1994. Reebok it seems were also having an identity crisis and hastily through this design Russia’s way for an away kit predominantly blue, but with patches of transport cafe table-cloth sewn on.
7. Austria (home) 1990
The late 1980s and early 1990s were dark days in the world of football kit design. That said, some shirts from the period have become cherished as classics, displaying an element of retro chic. The Austrian home kit of 1990 is not one of them.
6. Republic of Ireland (away) 1994
The Republic of Ireland squad of 1994 was arguably the least fashionable World Cup side ever. Every aspect of them, from players, to management, to fans decidedly un-cool. Pasty skin, garish nylon-clothing, ill-advised hairstyles, badly fitting baseball caps. They were the anti-Fonz. This kit suits them perfectly. Three half-arsed green stripes bordered in orange, as sensible an idea as Steve Staunton playing without sun-block.
5. Jamaica (home) 1998
If you think all the references to Bafana Bafana this year have been irritating then you obviously were not around for The Reggae Boyz of 1998. Jamaica’s first and only World Cup appearance featured some dubiously qualified Jamaicans, such as Burslem’s own Robbie Earle below, playing in an even more dubious kit. The only consolation was that the even worse green away kit wasn’t needed in the tournament.
4. Scotland (away) 1990
Umbro were short of cupboard space in the late 1980s and early 1990s and so with nowhere to store all their unwanted designs they began releasing them as Scotland away kits instead. Horizontal stripes were quite fashionable in the mis 80s, sadly for Scotland this kit was released in 1990 and was duly worn in the defeat to Costa Rica.
3. USA (away) 1994
As hosts of the 1994 World Cup the US elected to show patriotism in their kits for the tournament and so duly based the designs of both home and away shirts on the national flag. The home kit got the stripes, a wavy red and white number, the away kit got the stars.
2. South Africa (home) 1998
How on earth did South Africa wind up wearing this monstrosity at the 1998 World Cup? How could this design have gotten all the way from the design table at Kappa to the changing room without somebody, anybody, voicing any sort of dissent? From collar to colours there is genuinely nothing right about it.
1. Nigeria (away) 1994
Behold, the worst ever World Cup kit, the pyjama like Nigerian away kit of 1994. I have no more to say on it… just take it in.