Shocking shirts and questionable kits
© FIFA.com

What do a glass of beer, the tentacle of an octopus, a dinner jacket and a dragon have in common? The answer, believe it or not, is that they all feature in some of the latest football shirt designs. FIFA.com has all the details on these outlandish jerseys and more, as well as a colourful photo gallery that proves we are not making it all up.

Our football fashion review starts with Real Madrid, who have already been turning heads with an eyecatching hot pink third strip and are set to make a splash in the UEFA Champions League with a black shirt emblazoned with two intertwined dragons: King Dragon, which symbolises greatness, glory and power; and Dragon Bird, which represents resistance and agility.

“I identify with both of them, though probably more with King Dragon,” said a smiling Marcelo, one of the models at the unveiling of the new shirt, the creation of Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto.

Real Madrid’s dragons are not the first beasts, mythical or otherwise, to find their way on to a football top. In the 1990s, English side Hull City sported a tiger-print design in tribute to their nickname. Though animal print was all the rage at the time, the club’s garish pattern failed to catch on.

Trendsetters
As Spanish third-tier outfit Cultural Leonesa are attempting to prove, elegant attire is not out of place on the pitch, with the team adopting a tuxedo-style strip for the new season, complete with bow tie. The kit has proved a big hit with the fans, who have snapped up 5,000 of the shirts so far. It is all in a good cause too, with ten percent of the sales proceeds being set aside to provide free football coaching for disadvantaged local children.

Olympique Marseille are no strangers to the fashion stakes either, having opted in 2008 for a fetching Argyle diamond pattern in two shades of blue, a design reminiscent of the classic golf sweater. Adopting the premise that football is war, some clubs have gone for a military look, among them Napoli, who last year came up with a collection that went by the name of Camo.

“It’s our uniform for battle,” said club president Aurelio De Laurentiis of the controversial camouflage shirt, which has been reworked this year with the addition of sky blue and yellow to the colour scheme. With a top like that, Rafael Benitez’s players have little chance of fading into the surroundings.

Serie B side Reggina Calcio sported a different type of camouflage two seasons ago, a figure-hugging shirt replicating the chiselled torso of an Ancient Greek statue. Available in grey and red, the flattering jersey lent the Italian outfit plenty of muscle.

Continuing with the theme of unconventional prints, perhaps the strangest of all was designed for Athletic Bilbao’s 2003/04 UEFA Cup campaign. Created by Basque designer Dario Urzay, it took the team’s traditional red and white stripes and converted them into blotches.

Dubbed the “ketchup” shirt, the novel pattern was hailed by the art world and has even earned a place in the nearby city of Vitoria’s Museum of Contemporary Art (ARTIUM). It was less well received by supporters, however, with the club ultimately deciding not to wear it in official matches.

Food and drink
When it comes to advertising, football shirts are an effective tool for pushing products, not least in Spain, where local produce has provided a rich seam for kit designers to exploit. Lesser lights La Hoya de Lorca, who hail from the vegetable-growing region of Murcia, wore a broccoli-themed kit in 2013, with second division CD Lugo picking up the gastronomic baton with some striking designs for their recent pre-season games.

While the ten outfield players pulled on shirts adorned with a glass of the beer made by their sponsors, the team’s goalkeeper sported a jersey bearing the tentacle of an octopus – a much-appreciated delicacy in Galicia. No doubt there will be occasions, however, when he wishes he had the other seven to help him keep opposing strikers at bay. The design has gone down well with the townsfolk, so much so that the club is contemplating wearing the kit in their away games in the league.

USA went for an appropriately patriotic look when they hosted the FIFA World Cup™ in 1994, donning the so-called “Denim Kit”, a blue number dotted with white stars. Though alluring, it failed to meet with the players’ approval.

“Not even John Harkes could make this kit look good,” said midfielder Tab Ramos in reference to his handsome team-mate, who appeared in People magazine’s “World’s Most Beautiful” list in 1994. The now-defunct Colorado Caribous went one step further with the Americana theme back in the 1970s, running out in a white and brown shirt complete with a cowboy-style leather-tassel fringe.

Another side with a penchant for the patriotic are Bayern Munich, whose away kit for last season borrowed from Bavaria’s traditional lederhosen design, all rounded off with a matching Alpine-style parade jacket. These are just some of the most striking and unique kits that we could think of. No doubt, you have a few more in mind.

Have your say
Which football shirt designs have left you lost for words?