With less than three months until the opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Qatar, Adidas and Puma have released a series of new kits for the various national teams they supply, including potential contenders for the trophy like Argentina and Germany.
Puma in particular has caused a storm by insisting on sticking to one overarching concept for all of its alternate shirts, with the 2022 away model seeing a strange “halo” added around the number on the front of each shirt, which has a thematic link with the nation in question.
Unfortunately, this has led to a seamless set of shirts which are proving about as popular as the third European club kits released last year which saw Puma “breaking football shirt composition conventions” by removing the crests and replacing them with large strips of text on the belly.
Have they learned any valuable lessons with this new set of away World Cup uniforms? Apparently not – although it’s fair to say that some of the new kits are better than others.
Here we run through the plethora of new World Cup kits released by Adidas and Puma this week, along with a brief description of each individual design and a no-frills ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ rating.
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Contrasting nicely with the latest version of the famous Albiceleste home kit scratches (which was unveiled last month), the bottom notes of the Argentina 2022 away shirt are a deep, rich purple. The design has been accentuated with a fiery graphic rising from the bottom which Adidas says is meant to mirror the golden sun that appears in the center of the country’s flag.
Departing from the usual template, Germany took a leaf from the Ajax book and introduced a central ‘apron’ to their home kit with a single, wide black vertical stripe housing the crests, logos and numbers. It’s certainly a departure from the standard white shirt generally preferred by the DFB, but it’s a great choice.
Germany away (Adidas)
The predominantly black away shirt is equally exquisite, covered in shimmering gold trim and a dark brown graphic inspired by the angular ‘D’ (for ‘Deutschland’) found on the DFB crest. The letter has also been blurred out as part of the graphic as a visual representation of the fast and smooth football played by Die Mannschaft when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Ghana Away (Puma)
Inspired by Ghanaian textile patterns, the central square graphic block is a reinterpretation of the national flag set against a bright red field. It’s crisp, full of color and one of the few examples of Puma’s core design enhancing rather than diminishing the overall aesthetic.
Japan home (Adidas)
Both Japan World Cup jerseys are inspired by origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. The home shirt is in the traditional “Blue Samurai” color, but also has an all-over graphic that resembles an origami model of Yatagarasu, the mythological three-legged raven that appears on the Japan Football Federation crest.
Away Japan (Adidas)
The pure white away shirt features the same Yatagarasu origami graphic on the sleeves, but also adds a two-tone blur effect to reflect the energetic, fast and fluid style of the Japanese approach to football.
Away Mexico (Adidas)
A jersey steeped in the indigenous culture of ancient Mexico, the alluring away shirt is completely covered in Mixtec art that Adidas says will “invoke the nation’s fighting spirit.” Like the home kit (an instant classic), the deep red design here is inspired by Quetzalcoatl, the ‘feathered serpent god’ and creator of the world and all mankind.
Along with the standard red and green trim you’d expect from the Atlas Lions, a pale gray vertical stripe houses the national federation crest. It was possible to make something special with the use of an intricate pattern inspired by traditional Moroccan mosaics that surrounds the shirt number, similar to the Marrakesh shirt from Puma’s special range of city-themed kits released in 2020, but it was a missed opportunity.
The vibrant green base is nice enough, but the graphic – which Puma says is designed as an abstract rendition of a rampant lion’s gaping jaw – is just too minimal and indistinct to be effective. The reigning African champions deserved better than that.
The central graphic is a stylized reference to the coat of arms found on the base of Prince Mihailo’s bronze monument in Belgrade. With all historical significance removed, you’re looking at a chintzy gold sheriff’s badge on a plain white football jersey. Extremely dull.
Spain home (Adidas)
The Adidas blurb that accompanies Spain’s new home shirt features vague odes to ‘football DNA’ and ‘timelessness’, but essentially what we have here is just a fairly standard arrangement of the old red, blue and yellow found on the national flag. Good enough, but you would have a hard time choosing it from a selection of La Rojajerseys of recent years.
Spain away (Adidas)
The away shirt is a different case, thanks mainly to a wavy wave pattern that was lifted from the RFEF coat of arms used by Spain in 1982, the last time the country hosted a World Cup. The imposing design is likely to divide fan opinion, but at least it’s a bit more visually interesting than the home kit.
Forgetting a football shirt while still looking at it is a funny feeling, and yet here we are. White with a dull gray gradient and an official red graphic that wouldn’t look out of place on a new pack of copier paper.
Puma claims it’s “fearless”, but we’re concerned there’s too much going on for the Uruguayan away shirt to live up to it, as stripes, numbers, crests and a large central shield jostle for position and end up cluttering the design beyond measure.