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The fine art (of sorts) of Euro 2020 football kits

11 June 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Euro 2020 is with us at last. Your correspondent has little time for football but is a sucker for style – and so has been poring over the latest kit designs to hit the calcio catwalk. It is of course de rigueur for every international team – as well as every professional club – to refresh its threads at any possible opportunity. New football shirts come round with the regularity of Panini sticker albums, except for people with big pocket money.

The aesthetes of the Italy squad will be decked out in what its designer, Puma, describes as a shirt with a ‘Renaissance design’. What this means is that the Azzurri kit comes with a vaguely floral decorative pattern – which looks to Rakewell as though it’s been lifted from a William Morris wallpaper design. Anyway, the head of product design at Puma has said that ‘the Renaissance floral motifs represent the universal beauty that was created in Italy’. Well, Leonardo did coach Milan, but he played for Brazil.

The Austria away kit, meanwhile, another Puma confection, was to have something of a Secessionist vibe, with its stylised design of what look like interlocking peacock feathers. Perhaps it was to guard against professional fowls that led them to run with something far more mundane. All the same, its red home kit – says Puma – is a mash up of ‘traditional “Österreich” Alpine outfits’ and a ‘stylized pattern […] inspired by the Vienna Secession art nouveau style movement’ (Klimt in a dirndl, then). North Macedonia, playing in its first major tournament, has also opted for a beastly kit, with a Balkan lynx emerging from the geometric design on its home kit (it looks like an angry cat stuck in a spider’s web).

On the eve of the tournament, meanwhile, Ukraine has been ordered to change its kit to remove the phrase ‘Glory to the heroes’ from the inside of the collar. The words have a military significance, and combined with the map showing the sovereign borders of Ukraine – including the Russian-annexed region of Crimea – on the front of the shirt, have sent Russia into a sulk. By Rakewell’s reckoning, the earliest the two sides could meet is 27 June, in Budapest or Bilbao.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.