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The triple grand-slam champion Stan Wawrinka became the latest big name to welcome Andy Murray back to the tennis tour on Monday night. “It’s never easy when you don’t see a player like him on the court,” said Wawrinka. “You’re not used to it.” But first Wawrinka had business of his own to attend to, as he claimed only his fifth victory of 2018 over British No. 2 Cameron Norrie. Wawrinka is still in the middle of his own comeback from injury, having undergone two knee operations last year. On Monday, he significantly reduced the amount of running he had to do by belting down 13 aces in a quickfire 6-2, 6-3 win. Wawrinka was aggressive in his returns too, striking a couple of clean forehand winners that flew past Norrie almost before he had completed his service action. Afterwards, he admitted that he had found this victory particularly satisfying in the light of his recent drought, which has seen him win only one match since the first half of February. “Mentally, it's tough when you see how far you are and how long it will take,” said Wawrinka, when asked about his slow march back to a competitive level. “I need to be really patient with myself, to accept less in a way. “I improved a lot physically and I am getting closer at least in the practice court. But I know that the next few months will not be easy. So I just need to take every match, every win as something really positive and keep doing the right job every day.” Wawrinka had two operations last year Credit: PA Tuesday’s centre-court schedule at the Fever-Tree Championships looks like a crowd-pleaser, featuring not only Murray but Novak Djokovic and the new British No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Meanwhile, Dan Evans will be in action on Court 1 against Adrian Mannarino, on the same day that the All England are due to discuss whether to offer him a wild card. For the second time in a fortnight, Evans was the subject of a letter of support on Monday from Toby Perkins, the Chesterfield MP who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tennis. Perkins wrote to Wimbledon’s chief executive Richard Lewis to suggest that Evans is a deserving case.
Stan Wawrinka claims much-needed win with victory over Cameron Norrie at Queen's
The triple grand-slam champion Stan Wawrinka became the latest big name to welcome Andy Murray back to the tennis tour on Monday night. “It’s never easy when you don’t see a player like him on the court,” said Wawrinka. “You’re not used to it.” But first Wawrinka had business of his own to attend to, as he claimed only his fifth victory of 2018 over British No. 2 Cameron Norrie. Wawrinka is still in the middle of his own comeback from injury, having undergone two knee operations last year. On Monday, he significantly reduced the amount of running he had to do by belting down 13 aces in a quickfire 6-2, 6-3 win. Wawrinka was aggressive in his returns too, striking a couple of clean forehand winners that flew past Norrie almost before he had completed his service action. Afterwards, he admitted that he had found this victory particularly satisfying in the light of his recent drought, which has seen him win only one match since the first half of February. “Mentally, it's tough when you see how far you are and how long it will take,” said Wawrinka, when asked about his slow march back to a competitive level. “I need to be really patient with myself, to accept less in a way. “I improved a lot physically and I am getting closer at least in the practice court. But I know that the next few months will not be easy. So I just need to take every match, every win as something really positive and keep doing the right job every day.” Wawrinka had two operations last year Credit: PA Tuesday’s centre-court schedule at the Fever-Tree Championships looks like a crowd-pleaser, featuring not only Murray but Novak Djokovic and the new British No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Meanwhile, Dan Evans will be in action on Court 1 against Adrian Mannarino, on the same day that the All England are due to discuss whether to offer him a wild card. For the second time in a fortnight, Evans was the subject of a letter of support on Monday from Toby Perkins, the Chesterfield MP who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tennis. Perkins wrote to Wimbledon’s chief executive Richard Lewis to suggest that Evans is a deserving case.
The triple grand-slam champion Stan Wawrinka became the latest big name to welcome Andy Murray back to the tennis tour on Monday night. “It’s never easy when you don’t see a player like him on the court,” said Wawrinka. “You’re not used to it.” But first Wawrinka had business of his own to attend to, as he claimed only his fifth victory of 2018 over British No. 2 Cameron Norrie. Wawrinka is still in the middle of his own comeback from injury, having undergone two knee operations last year. On Monday, he significantly reduced the amount of running he had to do by belting down 13 aces in a quickfire 6-2, 6-3 win. Wawrinka was aggressive in his returns too, striking a couple of clean forehand winners that flew past Norrie almost before he had completed his service action. Afterwards, he admitted that he had found this victory particularly satisfying in the light of his recent drought, which has seen him win only one match since the first half of February. “Mentally, it's tough when you see how far you are and how long it will take,” said Wawrinka, when asked about his slow march back to a competitive level. “I need to be really patient with myself, to accept less in a way. “I improved a lot physically and I am getting closer at least in the practice court. But I know that the next few months will not be easy. So I just need to take every match, every win as something really positive and keep doing the right job every day.” Wawrinka had two operations last year Credit: PA Tuesday’s centre-court schedule at the Fever-Tree Championships looks like a crowd-pleaser, featuring not only Murray but Novak Djokovic and the new British No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Meanwhile, Dan Evans will be in action on Court 1 against Adrian Mannarino, on the same day that the All England are due to discuss whether to offer him a wild card. For the second time in a fortnight, Evans was the subject of a letter of support on Monday from Toby Perkins, the Chesterfield MP who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tennis. Perkins wrote to Wimbledon’s chief executive Richard Lewis to suggest that Evans is a deserving case.
Stan Wawrinka claims much-needed win with victory over Cameron Norrie at Queen's
The triple grand-slam champion Stan Wawrinka became the latest big name to welcome Andy Murray back to the tennis tour on Monday night. “It’s never easy when you don’t see a player like him on the court,” said Wawrinka. “You’re not used to it.” But first Wawrinka had business of his own to attend to, as he claimed only his fifth victory of 2018 over British No. 2 Cameron Norrie. Wawrinka is still in the middle of his own comeback from injury, having undergone two knee operations last year. On Monday, he significantly reduced the amount of running he had to do by belting down 13 aces in a quickfire 6-2, 6-3 win. Wawrinka was aggressive in his returns too, striking a couple of clean forehand winners that flew past Norrie almost before he had completed his service action. Afterwards, he admitted that he had found this victory particularly satisfying in the light of his recent drought, which has seen him win only one match since the first half of February. “Mentally, it's tough when you see how far you are and how long it will take,” said Wawrinka, when asked about his slow march back to a competitive level. “I need to be really patient with myself, to accept less in a way. “I improved a lot physically and I am getting closer at least in the practice court. But I know that the next few months will not be easy. So I just need to take every match, every win as something really positive and keep doing the right job every day.” Wawrinka had two operations last year Credit: PA Tuesday’s centre-court schedule at the Fever-Tree Championships looks like a crowd-pleaser, featuring not only Murray but Novak Djokovic and the new British No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Meanwhile, Dan Evans will be in action on Court 1 against Adrian Mannarino, on the same day that the All England are due to discuss whether to offer him a wild card. For the second time in a fortnight, Evans was the subject of a letter of support on Monday from Toby Perkins, the Chesterfield MP who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tennis. Perkins wrote to Wimbledon’s chief executive Richard Lewis to suggest that Evans is a deserving case.
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
A former chairman of Watford has been banned for life from the English game after admitting supplying falsified financial information to the football authorities. Raffaele Riva has been punished for submitting a forged banking letter - the existence of which was exclusively revealed by the Daily Telegraph almost two years ago - when Gino Pozzo became the club’s sole owner. The faked filing, provided as proof Pozzo had enough funds to bankroll Watford, allowed the Italian to take full control of the Hertfordshire club. The Premier League side were fined almost £4 million in August after admitting providing a letter fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, to the Football League (now EFL) shortly before their 2014-15 promotion-winning campaign. A copy of the document was obtained by the Telegraph, which it passed on both to HSBC and the police after alerting the EFL, sparking an internal investigation by Watford and a 10-month inquiry by the governing body. The club pleaded guilty to filing the letter and were fined £3.95m - the largest ever EFL financial penalty - by a disciplinary commission and ordered to pay an additional £350,000 in costs. The fine would have been even larger - £5.75m - but it was reduced after Watford were deemed to have fully cooperated with an independent investigation and had met their financial commitments in full. Giampaolo Pozzo (centre) and son Gino (left) took over after the letter was sent Credit: GETTY IMAGES Separate action was launched against Riva, who resigned as the club’s executive chairman a week after the Telegraph revealed he had secured the faked letter. As well as banning him for life, a disciplinary commission fined him £50,000 and ordered him to pay £65,000 towards the costs of the EFL, ruling he would be unable to seek a review of his suspension until at least November 2, 2026. The EFL said in a statement: “Mr Riva accepts that his actions have had a serious impact on the integrity of the EFL and that they have caused embarrassment to the EFL and the club, which Mr Riva very much regrets.” The earlier inquiry found no evidence Pozzo himself had any knowledge a forgery had been obtained or submitted on his behalf, despite it allowing him to succeed his father, Giampaolo, as the club’s ultimate beneficial owner in the summer of 2014. The fabricated document stated that the holding company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment Limited, had sufficient financial resources with the bank for it to issue “a cash-backed unsecured bank guarantee up to the amount of £7 million” during the 2014-15 season. The letter was headed HSBC ‘Premier’, an arm of the bank that did not even deal with corporate customers, while a source told the Telegraph that Hornets Investment had never been a customer of HSBC. The faked document was one of two obtained by the Telegraph dated a week apart and worded almost identically. Riva secured the letters from an associate, who, according to information received by the Telegraph, denied any intention for them to be used in any formal filing. A week before resigning, Riva issued a statement in which he said he said he had no knowledge he had been provided with a forgery until informed by the Telegraph. Watford would not comment on precisely who else at the club saw the document before it was submitted, and accepted by the Football League, amid serious questions about exactly what checks took place to validate it. Before the fake HSBC letter was filed, Watford submitted a two-year-old document from Credit Suisse – with which Hornets Investment did bank – that was rejected by the league as proof of funds because it was out of date. Gino Pozzo was aware of the knockback, as was the club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury - who succeeded Riva as chairman - although the inquiry found no evidence he or anyone else at the club had any knowledge of the forgery. The inquiry also found no evidence Pozzo did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the league over the change of ownership, with Watford deemed to have obtained no competitive advantage by submitting a falsified document. No evidence was found of other irregularities in Watford’s submissions to the EFL. There is no known precedent in professional English football for the filing of forged documents, although Chesterfield were docked nine points in 2001 for financial irregularities, including falsifying gate receipts and giving a player two contracts.
Former Watford chairman banned for life from English football over forged bank letter
A former chairman of Watford has been banned for life from the English game after admitting supplying falsified financial information to the football authorities. Raffaele Riva has been punished for submitting a forged banking letter - the existence of which was exclusively revealed by the Daily Telegraph almost two years ago - when Gino Pozzo became the club’s sole owner. The faked filing, provided as proof Pozzo had enough funds to bankroll Watford, allowed the Italian to take full control of the Hertfordshire club. The Premier League side were fined almost £4 million in August after admitting providing a letter fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, to the Football League (now EFL) shortly before their 2014-15 promotion-winning campaign. A copy of the document was obtained by the Telegraph, which it passed on both to HSBC and the police after alerting the EFL, sparking an internal investigation by Watford and a 10-month inquiry by the governing body. The club pleaded guilty to filing the letter and were fined £3.95m - the largest ever EFL financial penalty - by a disciplinary commission and ordered to pay an additional £350,000 in costs. The fine would have been even larger - £5.75m - but it was reduced after Watford were deemed to have fully cooperated with an independent investigation and had met their financial commitments in full. Giampaolo Pozzo (centre) and son Gino (left) took over after the letter was sent Credit: GETTY IMAGES Separate action was launched against Riva, who resigned as the club’s executive chairman a week after the Telegraph revealed he had secured the faked letter. As well as banning him for life, a disciplinary commission fined him £50,000 and ordered him to pay £65,000 towards the costs of the EFL, ruling he would be unable to seek a review of his suspension until at least November 2, 2026. The EFL said in a statement: “Mr Riva accepts that his actions have had a serious impact on the integrity of the EFL and that they have caused embarrassment to the EFL and the club, which Mr Riva very much regrets.” The earlier inquiry found no evidence Pozzo himself had any knowledge a forgery had been obtained or submitted on his behalf, despite it allowing him to succeed his father, Giampaolo, as the club’s ultimate beneficial owner in the summer of 2014. The fabricated document stated that the holding company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment Limited, had sufficient financial resources with the bank for it to issue “a cash-backed unsecured bank guarantee up to the amount of £7 million” during the 2014-15 season. The letter was headed HSBC ‘Premier’, an arm of the bank that did not even deal with corporate customers, while a source told the Telegraph that Hornets Investment had never been a customer of HSBC. The faked document was one of two obtained by the Telegraph dated a week apart and worded almost identically. Riva secured the letters from an associate, who, according to information received by the Telegraph, denied any intention for them to be used in any formal filing. A week before resigning, Riva issued a statement in which he said he said he had no knowledge he had been provided with a forgery until informed by the Telegraph. Watford would not comment on precisely who else at the club saw the document before it was submitted, and accepted by the Football League, amid serious questions about exactly what checks took place to validate it. Before the fake HSBC letter was filed, Watford submitted a two-year-old document from Credit Suisse – with which Hornets Investment did bank – that was rejected by the league as proof of funds because it was out of date. Gino Pozzo was aware of the knockback, as was the club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury - who succeeded Riva as chairman - although the inquiry found no evidence he or anyone else at the club had any knowledge of the forgery. The inquiry also found no evidence Pozzo did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the league over the change of ownership, with Watford deemed to have obtained no competitive advantage by submitting a falsified document. No evidence was found of other irregularities in Watford’s submissions to the EFL. There is no known precedent in professional English football for the filing of forged documents, although Chesterfield were docked nine points in 2001 for financial irregularities, including falsifying gate receipts and giving a player two contracts.
A former chairman of Watford has been banned for life from the English game after admitting supplying falsified financial information to the football authorities. Raffaele Riva has been punished for submitting a forged banking letter - the existence of which was exclusively revealed by the Daily Telegraph almost two years ago - when Gino Pozzo became the club’s sole owner. The faked filing, provided as proof Pozzo had enough funds to bankroll Watford, allowed the Italian to take full control of the Hertfordshire club. The Premier League side were fined almost £4 million in August after admitting providing a letter fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, to the Football League (now EFL) shortly before their 2014-15 promotion-winning campaign. A copy of the document was obtained by the Telegraph, which it passed on both to HSBC and the police after alerting the EFL, sparking an internal investigation by Watford and a 10-month inquiry by the governing body. The club pleaded guilty to filing the letter and were fined £3.95m - the largest ever EFL financial penalty - by a disciplinary commission and ordered to pay an additional £350,000 in costs. The fine would have been even larger - £5.75m - but it was reduced after Watford were deemed to have fully cooperated with an independent investigation and had met their financial commitments in full. Giampaolo Pozzo (centre) and son Gino (left) took over after the letter was sent Credit: GETTY IMAGES Separate action was launched against Riva, who resigned as the club’s executive chairman a week after the Telegraph revealed he had secured the faked letter. As well as banning him for life, a disciplinary commission fined him £50,000 and ordered him to pay £65,000 towards the costs of the EFL, ruling he would be unable to seek a review of his suspension until at least November 2, 2026. The EFL said in a statement: “Mr Riva accepts that his actions have had a serious impact on the integrity of the EFL and that they have caused embarrassment to the EFL and the club, which Mr Riva very much regrets.” The earlier inquiry found no evidence Pozzo himself had any knowledge a forgery had been obtained or submitted on his behalf, despite it allowing him to succeed his father, Giampaolo, as the club’s ultimate beneficial owner in the summer of 2014. The fabricated document stated that the holding company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment Limited, had sufficient financial resources with the bank for it to issue “a cash-backed unsecured bank guarantee up to the amount of £7 million” during the 2014-15 season. The letter was headed HSBC ‘Premier’, an arm of the bank that did not even deal with corporate customers, while a source told the Telegraph that Hornets Investment had never been a customer of HSBC. The faked document was one of two obtained by the Telegraph dated a week apart and worded almost identically. Riva secured the letters from an associate, who, according to information received by the Telegraph, denied any intention for them to be used in any formal filing. A week before resigning, Riva issued a statement in which he said he said he had no knowledge he had been provided with a forgery until informed by the Telegraph. Watford would not comment on precisely who else at the club saw the document before it was submitted, and accepted by the Football League, amid serious questions about exactly what checks took place to validate it. Before the fake HSBC letter was filed, Watford submitted a two-year-old document from Credit Suisse – with which Hornets Investment did bank – that was rejected by the league as proof of funds because it was out of date. Gino Pozzo was aware of the knockback, as was the club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury - who succeeded Riva as chairman - although the inquiry found no evidence he or anyone else at the club had any knowledge of the forgery. The inquiry also found no evidence Pozzo did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the league over the change of ownership, with Watford deemed to have obtained no competitive advantage by submitting a falsified document. No evidence was found of other irregularities in Watford’s submissions to the EFL. There is no known precedent in professional English football for the filing of forged documents, although Chesterfield were docked nine points in 2001 for financial irregularities, including falsifying gate receipts and giving a player two contracts.
Former Watford chairman banned for life from English football over forged bank letter
A former chairman of Watford has been banned for life from the English game after admitting supplying falsified financial information to the football authorities. Raffaele Riva has been punished for submitting a forged banking letter - the existence of which was exclusively revealed by the Daily Telegraph almost two years ago - when Gino Pozzo became the club’s sole owner. The faked filing, provided as proof Pozzo had enough funds to bankroll Watford, allowed the Italian to take full control of the Hertfordshire club. The Premier League side were fined almost £4 million in August after admitting providing a letter fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, to the Football League (now EFL) shortly before their 2014-15 promotion-winning campaign. A copy of the document was obtained by the Telegraph, which it passed on both to HSBC and the police after alerting the EFL, sparking an internal investigation by Watford and a 10-month inquiry by the governing body. The club pleaded guilty to filing the letter and were fined £3.95m - the largest ever EFL financial penalty - by a disciplinary commission and ordered to pay an additional £350,000 in costs. The fine would have been even larger - £5.75m - but it was reduced after Watford were deemed to have fully cooperated with an independent investigation and had met their financial commitments in full. Giampaolo Pozzo (centre) and son Gino (left) took over after the letter was sent Credit: GETTY IMAGES Separate action was launched against Riva, who resigned as the club’s executive chairman a week after the Telegraph revealed he had secured the faked letter. As well as banning him for life, a disciplinary commission fined him £50,000 and ordered him to pay £65,000 towards the costs of the EFL, ruling he would be unable to seek a review of his suspension until at least November 2, 2026. The EFL said in a statement: “Mr Riva accepts that his actions have had a serious impact on the integrity of the EFL and that they have caused embarrassment to the EFL and the club, which Mr Riva very much regrets.” The earlier inquiry found no evidence Pozzo himself had any knowledge a forgery had been obtained or submitted on his behalf, despite it allowing him to succeed his father, Giampaolo, as the club’s ultimate beneficial owner in the summer of 2014. The fabricated document stated that the holding company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment Limited, had sufficient financial resources with the bank for it to issue “a cash-backed unsecured bank guarantee up to the amount of £7 million” during the 2014-15 season. The letter was headed HSBC ‘Premier’, an arm of the bank that did not even deal with corporate customers, while a source told the Telegraph that Hornets Investment had never been a customer of HSBC. The faked document was one of two obtained by the Telegraph dated a week apart and worded almost identically. Riva secured the letters from an associate, who, according to information received by the Telegraph, denied any intention for them to be used in any formal filing. A week before resigning, Riva issued a statement in which he said he said he had no knowledge he had been provided with a forgery until informed by the Telegraph. Watford would not comment on precisely who else at the club saw the document before it was submitted, and accepted by the Football League, amid serious questions about exactly what checks took place to validate it. Before the fake HSBC letter was filed, Watford submitted a two-year-old document from Credit Suisse – with which Hornets Investment did bank – that was rejected by the league as proof of funds because it was out of date. Gino Pozzo was aware of the knockback, as was the club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury - who succeeded Riva as chairman - although the inquiry found no evidence he or anyone else at the club had any knowledge of the forgery. The inquiry also found no evidence Pozzo did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the league over the change of ownership, with Watford deemed to have obtained no competitive advantage by submitting a falsified document. No evidence was found of other irregularities in Watford’s submissions to the EFL. There is no known precedent in professional English football for the filing of forged documents, although Chesterfield were docked nine points in 2001 for financial irregularities, including falsifying gate receipts and giving a player two contracts.
A former chairman of Watford has been banned for life from the English game after admitting supplying falsified financial information to the football authorities. Raffaele Riva has been punished for submitting a forged banking letter - the existence of which was exclusively revealed by the Daily Telegraph almost two years ago - when Gino Pozzo became the club’s sole owner. The faked filing, provided as proof Pozzo had enough funds to bankroll Watford, allowed the Italian to take full control of the Hertfordshire club. The Premier League side were fined almost £4 million in August after admitting providing a letter fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, to the Football League (now EFL) shortly before their 2014-15 promotion-winning campaign. A copy of the document was obtained by the Telegraph, which it passed on both to HSBC and the police after alerting the EFL, sparking an internal investigation by Watford and a 10-month inquiry by the governing body. The club pleaded guilty to filing the letter and were fined £3.95m - the largest ever EFL financial penalty - by a disciplinary commission and ordered to pay an additional £350,000 in costs. The fine would have been even larger - £5.75m - but it was reduced after Watford were deemed to have fully cooperated with an independent investigation and had met their financial commitments in full. Giampaolo Pozzo (centre) and son Gino (left) took over after the letter was sent Credit: GETTY IMAGES Separate action was launched against Riva, who resigned as the club’s executive chairman a week after the Telegraph revealed he had secured the faked letter. As well as banning him for life, a disciplinary commission fined him £50,000 and ordered him to pay £65,000 towards the costs of the EFL, ruling he would be unable to seek a review of his suspension until at least November 2, 2026. The EFL said in a statement: “Mr Riva accepts that his actions have had a serious impact on the integrity of the EFL and that they have caused embarrassment to the EFL and the club, which Mr Riva very much regrets.” The earlier inquiry found no evidence Pozzo himself had any knowledge a forgery had been obtained or submitted on his behalf, despite it allowing him to succeed his father, Giampaolo, as the club’s ultimate beneficial owner in the summer of 2014. The fabricated document stated that the holding company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment Limited, had sufficient financial resources with the bank for it to issue “a cash-backed unsecured bank guarantee up to the amount of £7 million” during the 2014-15 season. The letter was headed HSBC ‘Premier’, an arm of the bank that did not even deal with corporate customers, while a source told the Telegraph that Hornets Investment had never been a customer of HSBC. The faked document was one of two obtained by the Telegraph dated a week apart and worded almost identically. Riva secured the letters from an associate, who, according to information received by the Telegraph, denied any intention for them to be used in any formal filing. A week before resigning, Riva issued a statement in which he said he said he had no knowledge he had been provided with a forgery until informed by the Telegraph. Watford would not comment on precisely who else at the club saw the document before it was submitted, and accepted by the Football League, amid serious questions about exactly what checks took place to validate it. Before the fake HSBC letter was filed, Watford submitted a two-year-old document from Credit Suisse – with which Hornets Investment did bank – that was rejected by the league as proof of funds because it was out of date. Gino Pozzo was aware of the knockback, as was the club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury - who succeeded Riva as chairman - although the inquiry found no evidence he or anyone else at the club had any knowledge of the forgery. The inquiry also found no evidence Pozzo did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the league over the change of ownership, with Watford deemed to have obtained no competitive advantage by submitting a falsified document. No evidence was found of other irregularities in Watford’s submissions to the EFL. There is no known precedent in professional English football for the filing of forged documents, although Chesterfield were docked nine points in 2001 for financial irregularities, including falsifying gate receipts and giving a player two contracts.
Former Watford chairman banned for life from English football over forged bank letter
A former chairman of Watford has been banned for life from the English game after admitting supplying falsified financial information to the football authorities. Raffaele Riva has been punished for submitting a forged banking letter - the existence of which was exclusively revealed by the Daily Telegraph almost two years ago - when Gino Pozzo became the club’s sole owner. The faked filing, provided as proof Pozzo had enough funds to bankroll Watford, allowed the Italian to take full control of the Hertfordshire club. The Premier League side were fined almost £4 million in August after admitting providing a letter fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, to the Football League (now EFL) shortly before their 2014-15 promotion-winning campaign. A copy of the document was obtained by the Telegraph, which it passed on both to HSBC and the police after alerting the EFL, sparking an internal investigation by Watford and a 10-month inquiry by the governing body. The club pleaded guilty to filing the letter and were fined £3.95m - the largest ever EFL financial penalty - by a disciplinary commission and ordered to pay an additional £350,000 in costs. The fine would have been even larger - £5.75m - but it was reduced after Watford were deemed to have fully cooperated with an independent investigation and had met their financial commitments in full. Giampaolo Pozzo (centre) and son Gino (left) took over after the letter was sent Credit: GETTY IMAGES Separate action was launched against Riva, who resigned as the club’s executive chairman a week after the Telegraph revealed he had secured the faked letter. As well as banning him for life, a disciplinary commission fined him £50,000 and ordered him to pay £65,000 towards the costs of the EFL, ruling he would be unable to seek a review of his suspension until at least November 2, 2026. The EFL said in a statement: “Mr Riva accepts that his actions have had a serious impact on the integrity of the EFL and that they have caused embarrassment to the EFL and the club, which Mr Riva very much regrets.” The earlier inquiry found no evidence Pozzo himself had any knowledge a forgery had been obtained or submitted on his behalf, despite it allowing him to succeed his father, Giampaolo, as the club’s ultimate beneficial owner in the summer of 2014. The fabricated document stated that the holding company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment Limited, had sufficient financial resources with the bank for it to issue “a cash-backed unsecured bank guarantee up to the amount of £7 million” during the 2014-15 season. The letter was headed HSBC ‘Premier’, an arm of the bank that did not even deal with corporate customers, while a source told the Telegraph that Hornets Investment had never been a customer of HSBC. The faked document was one of two obtained by the Telegraph dated a week apart and worded almost identically. Riva secured the letters from an associate, who, according to information received by the Telegraph, denied any intention for them to be used in any formal filing. A week before resigning, Riva issued a statement in which he said he said he had no knowledge he had been provided with a forgery until informed by the Telegraph. Watford would not comment on precisely who else at the club saw the document before it was submitted, and accepted by the Football League, amid serious questions about exactly what checks took place to validate it. Before the fake HSBC letter was filed, Watford submitted a two-year-old document from Credit Suisse – with which Hornets Investment did bank – that was rejected by the league as proof of funds because it was out of date. Gino Pozzo was aware of the knockback, as was the club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury - who succeeded Riva as chairman - although the inquiry found no evidence he or anyone else at the club had any knowledge of the forgery. The inquiry also found no evidence Pozzo did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the league over the change of ownership, with Watford deemed to have obtained no competitive advantage by submitting a falsified document. No evidence was found of other irregularities in Watford’s submissions to the EFL. There is no known precedent in professional English football for the filing of forged documents, although Chesterfield were docked nine points in 2001 for financial irregularities, including falsifying gate receipts and giving a player two contracts.
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 kits: ranked - Every strip assessed including Peru, Nigeria, England and Panama
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup hype is to be discouraged, especially if it’s about England’s chances. Nevertheless, here is a grand statement: this is the best World Cup for kits of all time. Recent tournaments have been weighed down by a few templates dominating the overall set, this year the majority of teams have something unique. There is a pleasing mix throughout of tradition being respected, but playfully twisted. Astonishingly, among 64 kits not one is entirely horrendous. As ever, these rankings are entirely subjective but they are also entirely correct. To my mind a good international tournament kit is five things: Correct for its time, slightly different to what has come before, aware that it will be seen on TV far more often than in person, memorable, and, perhaps most important of all, not all-white. For those keeping score at home the manufacturers count this year breaks down as follows: World Cup 2018 kit manufacturers With that bit of thrilling administrative business taken care of, let's begin our countdown with the very worst kit of this year’s World Cup. 64. Switzerland home Credit: PUMA The trouble with the aforementioned lack of honking clangers in this year’s collection is that someone still has to come bottom. Luckily no-one will shed any tears for Switzerland, seemingly invited to every World Cup despite never bringing anything good to drink. This is a marble cake monstrosity, an OS map of a doomed hike, a pattern in lieu of a personality. The overly-relaxed promotional shot also suggests Switzerland just aren’t taking this competition seriously enough. Too late to swap them out for a more interesting team? 63. Australia away Credit: NIKE Always a worrying sign when it’s hard to picture Mile Jedinak in a kit but no struggle whatsoever to imagine the same outfit on Shane Warne. This fails an important test: does it look like a football shirt? Would pass for the uniform of a garden centre employee with the addition of an “I’m here to help” badge. Unfortunately the gaudy crossing streams bring to mind some top lads messing about at the urinals. On this evidence both have an awful lot to learn about hydration. 62. Serbia away Credit: PUMA Pretty ropey business from Puma which has decided with all the wisdom of a large cat that away shirts at this year’s tournament MUST be white. Shame such decisiveness wasn’t in play for that stripe running down the middle which isn’t quite sure where to start or end. In France for Euro 2016 you could buy face-painting sticks which smeared something like a French flag down your face*. This looks like an accident with one of those. Improved by a number on the front as demonstrated by the fine men to the right. * If you’d like to see a man who really likes football kits being accosted by one of these, this is the video of your dreams: 61. Morocco home Credit: Adidas Morocco delayed their launch for both of their shirts until this week, because they were so concerned about forged versions reaching the market, both abstract and actual. Was it worth the wait? No, no it was not. Somehow both dull and brash. A deeply uninspired effort. 60. Egypt away Credit: GETTY IMAGES Rubbish. Put a pyramid on it, at least. So lacking in verve that in the event of a kit clash Egypt might as well just play in skins. 59. Iran home Credit: AP Really not sold on the idea of a modern kit launch, Iran simply strode out of the tunnel for a friendly against Turkey wearing this, their new home kit. No photoshopped Lions, no meaningless three-word mottos, no press releases about fabric which periodically sprays your skin with expensive serum. We applaud their approach, but not their anonymous kit. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same template as Morocco home with the same half-arsed lack of flair as Egypt’s similarly white away shirt. Seeing the spectacular work Adidas has done for several of the kits higher on this chart it’s clear where its priorities lie. 58. Saudi Arabia home Credit: Nike How to make the blank canvas of a white Nike kit instantly less appealing? Add a sickly shade of green! Limp and tedious. 57. Panama home Credit: New Balance As long-time kit ranking-enjoyers will attest, I am in the tank for New Balance. It generally finds a way to upheld the best traditional aspects of a team’s look while adding memorable flourishes. What happens when a team has no notable tradition to speak of? Maths-paper squares, it would seem. Disappointingly cheap-looking. 56. Belgium away Credit: Adidas The Watford side of the 1980s may seem like an unlikely influence for an international football kit in 2018, but here we are. Something a bit public transport upholstery about the shirt, which appears to be mere lines at first, before squares start appearing like a disappointing Magic Eye. Fails to hang together in a pleasing way as a set, and I suspect it’s that weak Pro Evo-like team emblem which is to blame. 55. Tunisia home Credit: Uhlsport A schoolfriend of mine once brought back several Tunisia home shirts from a holiday so our dreadful five-a-side team could have a matching kit. Suffice to say they were not Official Licensed Team Products. The memory of that shirt and all of its kind, shiny, utterly impermeable, clinging to your entire back after five minutes, came flooding back seeing this aggressively boring home kit. Little to recommend beyond some minor attempts at geometry on the side. Not good enough. 54. Senegal home Credit: Puma Last year Senegal wore a fearsome roaring lion on their shoulder, made out of bold dashes of colour: Credit: REUTERS This year Senegal have moved on with their lives and are trying to forget about their wild summer of lion. They have deleted his number. They’re going out less. They have, unfortunately, got dull. Sublimated patterns are all well and good in the context of pictures of kits on the internet, but IRL this is a tedious white shirt with some uninspired trim in an unappealing green. 53. Morocco away Credit: Adidas An Adidas teamwear template that’s available for any Sunday League team that fancies it. Not a particularly offensive one, but surely something slightly more exciting is possible? As may have been mentioned before, this is the World Cup. 52. Switzerland away Credit: Puma Honestly, Switzerland, why bother? What is the point? You’re cheating yourself, Switzerland. You’re capable of more, Puma. That’s too many logos, both of you. Liven up your ideas. You are harshing my World Cup buzz. 51. Iceland away Credit: Errea Some sad news for you: this will not be Iceland’s World Cup. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and international football tournament shock artists do not repeat the trick in consecutive competitions. Especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. Still, we will have a great time getting behind Iceland, enjoying their incredible support and trying to clap along with them at the correct moment. We will just not be wearing this shirt, because the collar is silly and there is something iffy about those sleeves. 50. Iran away Credit: GETTY IMAGES A little more oopmh behind this Iran effort, but still impossible to shake the feeling their only notable contribution to this World Cup will be to provide a future low-scoring answer on Pointless. 49. Spain away Credit: Adidas Unsure about what’s happened here, but somewhere along the line mistakes have been made. Spain have been wearing white as change or third strips since 1982, but few stick in the memory beyond this belter from 2016: Credit: EPA This one will not be hanging around for long in anyone's mind, with its trim like dubious Sangria and a vague waterfall of pointless turquoise. The abandonment of a largely-glorious history of navy away shirts should lead to a root and branch review in whichever Spanish quango is responsible for choosing kits. 48. Uruguay away Credit: Puma Yr man here looks like he’s on his way to cause some aggro. Don’t try that in Russia, pal. It will not end well. Few discerning remarks for another tedious white away shirt from Puma’s big book of uninspired ideas. 47. Belgium home Credit: Adidas Theoretically amazing but does not come off. A re-hash of Belgium’s Euro 84 kit, a tournament in which they beat Yugoslavia, were hammered by France then lost 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-0. If we’re commemorating farce let’s give Gareth Southgate a cool “retro” umbrella. Proof that Argyle and football shirts just don’t mix, as everyone except Plymouth die-hards will admit. Gives impression that Belgium would much rather be good at cycling than football. Check out those constricting sleeves - only suitable if you have the freakishly tiny upper arms of Chris Froome. 46. Serbia home Credit: Puma More middle of the road than a central reservation. Cannot be redeemed, even by a number font on loan from a Disneyfied Balkans-themed restaurant menu. 45. Tunisia away Credit: Uhlsport Like a dull Denmark. Won’t upset anyone, either stylistically or on the pitch. (Let’s see how well that statement ages after the match taking place in Volgograd on 18 June…) 44. Poland away Credit: Nike We have similar to come in this countdown with Poland’s home effort which is (spoilers) identical, albeit in a different colour. So just hold that thought if waiting for a verdict on this one and remember that, sometimes, white looks better than red. The socks, sadly absent here, are also red. Red, red, red. Never much fun. 43. Saudi Arabia away Credit: Nike Fairly muted and tasteful, whether or not the team can muster a single second of balletic glory which mirrors the Nike promotional material here remains to be seen. Some extra points for the number placement above the right breast, a welcome trend for several of Nike’s shirts in Russia. 42. Iceland home Credit: Errea Lovable though Iceland are, there is a fine line between joyful throwbacks to the design trends of 1997 and just looking like the Chesterfield side who nearly reached the FA Cup final. Unfortunately this falls just the wrong side. Never mind, it will bring back happy memories for Sean Dyche. 41. South Korea home Credit: Nike That’s quite the bland shirt you have there, South Korea. You are in danger of disappointing the excellent tiger who lives on your emblem. The black shorts help the overall look, as does a very excited model. 40. Japan away Credit: Adidas It takes a special sort of kit tragic to see a new shirt and immediately think “Albania change 2016.” Reader, I am that anorak. This is a more refined take on the radiator texture chic explored by the Eagles in the last European Championships. It still looks more like it was designed more to impress as a niche Parkrun choice than to create TV memories at an international tournament. That’s a trend to be discouraged. 39. Senegal away Credit: Puma A shade of green which does not look interested in messing around. The overall combination of pattern, trim and sublimated image is a touch dated but just about gets over the line between striking and naff. 38. Nigeria home Credit: Nike This is it, the great novelty. The bold statement. The reported 3million pre-orders. Memorable, certainly. Bold, undoubtedly. But somehow quite calculated, a bit knowing. A feeling that its designers are deliberately attempting to court controversy rather than make something with the sort of weird beauty which will inevitably divide opinion. Perhaps I am too cynical, and I appreciate the effort. But I cannot find it in my heart to love the kit. A nation weeps as one. 37. Sweden home Credit: Adidas Like any self-respecting adult I have a favourite two-colour combination for sports kits and it’s yellow and blue. I have, though, been burned by too many forgettable Sweden appearances at World Cups. They have been no fun since 1994. Neither is this kit, really, despite the same diagonal stripes also seen on Real Madrid’s current home shirt which look like an afterthought. 36. Panama away Credit: New Balance A man, a plan, a canal… Pretty patterns! This is a bit more like it from Team Canal and their official Matchday supplier - Team Balancing Things in New and Inventive ways. Some risk, some invention, an odd plunging collar. A qualified success. 35. England home Credit: Nike A return to the sort of England kit a seven-year-old would draw if brought up in the 1990s, after some CONTROVERSIAL experimentation with devilry such as light blue sleeves and (gasp!) red socks for Euro 2016. Everything about that tournament must now be expunged from English football history, but I’m not convinced that a return to such a safe set is helpful. Especially at a time already coloured by questionable memories of how perfect things used to be in England in the good old days when everything was simpler. Add my name to the growing list of people who wish they’d gone with their excellent training top as home shirt instead: Credit: Nike 34. Portugal away Credit: Nike Nice try Portugal, with your constellation of stars on the front, but this is still all-white and therefore not eligible for the upper reaches. Can imagine Ronaldo will look resplendent in this while eagerly indicating that he wants a throw-in delivered to him NOW by one of the inferior men he must tolerate every couple of years for a few weeks. I bet one of his own team-mates will try to swap shirts with him. 33. Peru home Credit: Umbro Has Umbro muffed it? I think it might have done. You wait so long for a proud Peruvian sash at a World Cup then when it comes it’s served with a side order of unnecessary gold ribbon. You can’t even pick it off. You probably can, but it will invalidate your shirt’s warranty. A country who are a wonderful addition to the tournament, a great shame the kit isn’t the classic it should be. 32. Australia home Credit: Nike If you like your lager advertising chummy, your Cahills to be called Tim (not Gary), and your dinkum fair have we got the World Cup kit for you? ‘Straylia! Seismograph sleeves complement gold as bold as a slap in the face from a lovable rogue in Earl’s Court Walkabout. 31. Russia home Credit: Adidas Remember the Soviet Union? I don’t, really, but expect its citizens would be as proud as their rulers would permit to wear this. Strong, bold and inscrutable. Stick “CCCP” on the front and put Frankie Goes To Hollywood on and we’re back in 1984. No not Relax, the other one. No! not The Power Of Love… Oh, forget it. 30. Nigeria away Credit: Nike Not the Nigeria shirt that everyone (anyone) is talking about at this year’s World Cup, but the sensible Super Eagles Super Fan’s Super Choice. An unusual shade of dark green, rarely seen on a football shirt. Perhaps with good reason, this is the kit most likely to suffer the same “players can’t pick eachother out” fate as Manchester United’s grey from 1996. 29. Spain home Credit: Adidas I am a little wary of the trend to look backwards when designing kits. Nick a flourish, sure, but there seems little point in slavishly aping past designs. Adidas has largely “drawn inspiration” rather than “shamelessly pilfered” from its past for this tournament, but this lapses into outright cover version. Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994 wearing a very similar shirt to this, but the lined effect on this year’s diamonds takes the edge off in 2018. There has been some controversy about what looks like purple, which is a contentious colour in Spain because of its use in the Republican flag, used by anti-monarchy protesters. Despite it all, this is fairly tasty. Shorts and socks especially so. 28. Egypt home Credit: Adidas Tidy, no nonsense, playing a straight bat, stiff upper lip, masking the sadness of an entire nation about a bad thing Sergio Ramos did. 27. Portugal home Credit: Nike Nothing to fault, nothing to feel excited about. Green socks are fairly jolly. Portugal have been gradually losing claret since peak-bastard Cristiano in 2006. This edges back to that deeper, more soulful colour than recent journeys towards the light. Embrace the evil, Portugal. Strike us down with all of your hatred. 26. Argentina home Credit: Adidas Very little to see here beyond some acceptable gradient work on the blue stripes. Some kits are protected like greenbelt land. The excess white at the shoulder where the blue marries the sleeve looks almost like a manufacturing error. There are perhaps six people in the world who care about this. 25. Costa Rica home Credit: New Balance Here we go Costa Rica, that’s how you do a subtle shirt pattern! The lines are DNA, apparently for… reasons. Don’t ask New Balance too many questions or you’ll end up in that glass chamber. 24. Poland home Credit: Nike As has been covered at length, all-white is not the way to my heart, but this is very tidy indeed. Brought to life by its diagonal halving, elevating it immediately from dull to borderline memorable. What does it all mean? Nothing. Almost certainly nothing. 23. Argentina away Credit: Adidas The closest we come to a template to be bored of at this year’s World Cup is this, the Adidas nipple-emphasis side-stripes. Happily, like its similarly ubiquitous USA 94 designs worn by Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, it’s a peach. We’ll be seeing plenty more of it in what remains of this list. Argentina have one of the less memorable incarnations, but it’s still totally pleasant. 22. South Korea away Credit: Nike Now we’re talking. This is how to jolt an all-white change strip into life - by adding the graphic style of an aspirational hi-tech power shower that you will never be able to afford. 21. England away Credit: Nike Shades of 1998 here, when England had a deeper shade of red which also featured a St George’s cross pattern. Picture David Beckham’s free kick against Colombia. Yes, that’s the one. Now how do you feel? Maximum patriotic! Six pints before kick-off! A scuffle outside a suburban chain pub! It’s coming home, it’s coming home etc. 20. Mexico home Credit: Adidas Welcome back, delightful Adidas template. Okay, you’re approaching our nipples from a different angle. Look, I’m open-minded. I’ll give it a go. Variety is the spice of life. This ticks a lot of boxes. A retro flourish, confident boldness, unusual socks. Yes to all. 19. Denmark away Credit: Hummel Don’t panic, fans of the 1980s. The appropriate fawning over Denmark and the manufacturers of their kit will follow when we reach their home kit. Odd how white shorts under red shirts looks textbook, but the opposite seems transgressive and maverick. Nevertheless, nothing wrong here whatsoever. 18. Russia away Credit: Adidas Briefly made me smile, which is more than the country of Russia is likely to do for the majority of fans visiting this summer. Official literature says the shirt pattern “Depicts an abstract vision of Russian architecture and pays homage to the architectural landmarks and industrial cities of the country’s….” Hahahahaha! Looks more like the user interface of a sinister computer program that’s methodically stealing an entire continent’s private data. Shorts and socks: decent. Overall verdict: da. 17. Colombia away Credit: Adidas Missing Holland? And the 1994 World Cup? Hey, things are looking up! The Colombia party bus pulls into the official Fifa World Cup Parking Zone and is ready to shake things up. Hop on board, and remember - it’s pronounced Ham-ez. Try it with some other familiar J-words and phrases until you get the hang of it: Hury service, hoint custody, ham har. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Colombia. 16. Peru away Credit: Umbro This is far better work from the boys from the… place. With the… stuff. Anyway, reawaken Nobby Solano because a new day is dawning. The accent gold makes far more sense here than on its hostile invasion of the home shirt. A winner. 15. Mexico away Credit: Adidas How often can you say you’ve never seen a football kit quite like this before? (Be quiet, Nigeria home) 'Soy Mexico' is printed on the collar, not a tribute to the least-used condiment bottle in your new neighbourhood taco pop-up, but “I am Mexico” in Spanish. A distant cousin on the 78-9 away shirt (made by Levi’s, fact fans), but the vertical stripes on that have been rotated. Six thumbs up. 14. Croatia home Credit: Nike There’s no easy way to break this to you Croatia, but your checks need some balances. They have grown too big. You’re out of control! The subtle effect on their edges is a nice way to spruce up what must be one of the hardest shirts to do anything inventive with. Is really going to sing with some numbers in Nike’s off-centred position judging by Luka Modric in the promotional shots: Credit: NIKE 13. Uruguay home Credit: Puma Say what you like about the Uruguay brand (and MANY have), but they have really taken ownership of a very specific shade of blue. Still light, not-quite-sky: pre-dawn. It does a wonderful job of masking some truly reprehensible tackles. The pattern shares the same message as the timeless classic by Inner City: "We're having big sun". Sure, why not? 12. France away Credit: Nike Remember when England tried to get a bit clever by roping in graphic designer Peter Saville and putting some multicoloured patterned crosses on their shirt? Sure you do: There is something similar going on here, but it’s far nicer. As the French say “un touch de class”. 11. Sweden away Credit: Adidas A nourishing meal of lines and squares on this shirt, previously sighted in less appealing form on Belgium’s change shirt. The difference here is that the pattern becomes a focal point with this colour scheme, rather than something to squint at which may cause migraine. These shorts also look like the best day of your summer holiday. The model on Adidas’s website is promising some very relaxed socks too: Credit: ADIDAS 10. Denmark home Credit: Hummel Nothing too fussy going on here, which has hurt similar straightforward red-shirted outfits lower down in this ranking. But come on. Denmark, in a World Cup, in Hummel, as the football gods intended. What am I not made of? Stone. The answer is stone. 9. Brazil home Credit: Nike Nike taking few chances with one of the least-ruinable kit configurations in football. You don’t take chances after the trauma of 2014 and losing 7-1 on your own patch, you look to shut up shop, minimise anyone’s ability to hurt you and keep it tight at the back for the next 300 or so years. A kit to make new and better memories in. 8. France home Credit: Nike Manchester City share this new Nike Vapor template, but it makes more sense here with a darker blue base colour and the brighter accents on the sleeves. The white shorts and red sock combo create an overall vibe like an accomplished classical music performance. 7. Costa Rica away Credit: New Balance There is some subtle magic occurring here because with white, black and a some basically invisible shirt patterning this should be forgettable. And yet, I can’t stop looking at it. Perhaps I have been hypnotised by that shiny spiral of a crest. I do not mind, this is wonderful. 6. Croatia away Credit: Nike Intimidatingly cool. Transcending the usual busted flush of all-dark kits with an unapologetically massive crest, pleasingly retaining its usual colours. Bigger checks suit the muted palette. Nailed on future-classic. 5. Germany away Credit: Adidas This is firmly up the correct alley of taking inspiration from the past rather than merely replicating it. Describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it and you’d probably use the same adjectives as doing similar for the West Germany 1990 away strip. They are related, but cousins rather than twins. The green has grown up, the geometry has shifted into something more complex, creating unresolved patterns which somehow add up to something coherent. Masterful and mesmerising. 4. Japan home Credit: Adidas A pattern which doubles as a Cheese Box board, the square-drawing game which no-one ever played on the back of Top Trumps cards. There’s something strange and novel at work and it deserves to win hearts and minds. It’s as if Japan know the team’s not up to much so have concentrated trying to win at kits. In other words: Ideal. Unusual and beautiful. 3. Brazil away Credit: Nike Pow! An utter stunner. Even the socks look super-cool. Would endorse getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt, while getting drunk on Caipirinhas wearing this shirt. 2. Germany home Credit: Adidas Simultaneously modern and retro. Both bold and classy. Again, it has an echo of the 1990 West Germany kit but isn’t ripping it off. A sublime piece of work. You’d thank them for beating you on penalties. 1. Colombia home Credit: Adidas On first impression it looked to me like the yellow here was not quite popping like on Colombia’s also-spectacular 2014 shirt, with the neat diagonal pinstripes. I also wondered about stripe overkill this time: There are stripes on the nipple-troublers, located just underneath the Adidas shoulder stripes. But I have peeked at this kit periodically since it was unveiled in March. It got better every time I returned to it. As my excitement for the tournament has built, so has my appreciation for this kit. My initial problems were nit-picking in the extreme, the result of a winter which wouldn’t go away. Now the sun is out we can see this kit for what it is: borderline pornographic. Our winner. Thom Gibbs's previous kit rankings | Putting things into order since 2014 John Devlin’s delightful new book True Colours: International Football Kits was a valuable resource during the compilation of this article. More information here. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article