Nike releases US World Cup jerseys some criticize as bland
NEW YORK (AP) — Nike released the United States’ World Cup jerseys Thursday, including a mostly white design for home matches that was criticized in advance by a pair of American players and some fans.
The home jerseys have red and blue stripes on each sleeve, somewhat similar to the stripes down each side of the Americans’ 2002 World Cup uniforms.
“We just as angry as y’all !!!” forward Tim Weah wrote last month after a version of the home jersey was posted online.
“Tried to tell them,” midfielder Weston McKennie wrote.
The bright blue away jersey has an ice-dying technique somewhat akin to a tie-dye pattern.
More than 100 people signed a change.org online petition calling for different designs.
“I rate it in the middle,” American midfielder Yunus Musah said during an Aug. 25 conference call. putting his right thumb sideways. “It’s not there,” he said with a thumbs up, then flipping to a thumbs down, “or there. It’s the middle.”
Donald Wine, a national board member of the American Outlaws supporters group, said he likely will purchase one of the new jerseys but hoped Nike and the U.S. Soccer Federation would take criticism into account in future designs. Wine said fans prefer a more distinctive look the team could become known for, such as Croatia’s adoption of a checkerboard pattern.
As an example, Wine cited the red and white horizontal stripes of the 2012-13 U.S. jersey that became known as Waldo, after the character’s attire in a children’s book.
“The outcry is not necessarily over the design of the jersey, or at least lack of design on the home, but it’s about the fact that I think a lot of people are looking for a jersey identity to call their own,” Wine said. “I am one of those people who have been long in the team Waldo camp for it being a permanent national team jersey. I think in the end people just want a jersey identity and these don’t do that. ”
Aaron Barnett, senior product director of Nike global football apparel, said Rolando Cruz, the apparel product line manager, coordinated with the USSF on the design.
“We know that our products always will elicit response,” Barnett said. “We’ve been doing products for multiple sports, not just soccer. And so we’re going to have some athletes that are super-excited about it and some they’re not excited about. And that’s just the balance that you always have in the process.”
The U.S. is back in the World Cup for this year’s tournament in Qatar after failing to qualify for 2018. The Americans open Nov. 21 against Wales
Barnett said most of the jersey manufacturing takes place in Asia. He said he did not know whether the workers who manufactured the kits were unionized.
Nike took over as the USSF equipment supplier in 1995 from Adidas, which had provided uniforms since 1973. The USSF announced a longterm extension with Nike last November without specifying a length.
Nike released the jerseys of 12 of its 13 World Cup teams Thursday: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The company delayed announcing England’s designs until Sept. 21 following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Adidas supplies seven — Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Wales — and Puma six — Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Serbia, Switzerland and Uruguay.
New Balance has Costa Rica and Panama, while four brands have one each Errea (Iceland), Hummel (Denmark), Marathon (Ecuador) and Majid (Iran).
Defending champion France has jerseys inspired by Toile de Jouy fabric that includes subtle prints of famous landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Old Mill of Vernon, a Romanesque tower
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By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer