With less than three months until the opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Qatar, both Adidas and Puma have released a raft of new kits for the various national teams they supply, including potential contenders for the trophy like Argentina and Germany.
Puma in particular have caused a bit of a storm with their insistence on sticking with a overarching concept for all of their alternate jerseys, with the 2022 away template seeing a strange “halo” added around the number on the front of each jersey, which has a thematic link with the nation in question.
Unfortunately, this has led to a homogenous set of shirts that are proving about as popular as the European club third kits released last year that saw Puma “break down the conventions of football shirt composition” by removing the crests and replacing them with large bands of text across the midriff.
Have they learned any valuable lessons with this new slew of World Cup away uniforms? It would appear not — though it’s fair to say that some of the new kits are better than others.
Here we run through the plethora of new World Cup kits released by Adidas and Puma this week, along with a brief breakdown of each individual design and a no-nonsense “hit” or “miss” rating.
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Contrasting nicely with the latest version of the famous Albiceleste stripes of the home kit (which was unveiled last month), the base notes of the 2022 Argentina away jersey are a deep, rich purple. The pattern has been accented by a fiery graphic rising from the bottom that Adidas says is meant to reflect the golden sun that appears in the centre of the country’s flag.
Straying from the usual template, Germany have taken a leaf out of Ajax’s book and introduced a central “apron” to their home kit with a lone, wide black vertical stripe housing the crests, logos and numbers. It’s definitely a departure from the standard white shirt usually preferred by the DFB, but it’s an excellent choice.
Germany away (Adidas)
The predominantly black away shirt is equally exquisite, coated all over in shimmering gold trim and a deep maroon graphic inspired by the angular “D” (for “Deutschland”) found on the DFB crest. The letter has also been blurred as part of the graphic as a visual representation of the fast, flowing football played by Die Mannschaft when they fire on all cylinders.
Ghana away (Puma)
Inspired by Ghanaian textile patterns, the square central graphic block is a reinterpretation of the national flag sitting atop a field of bright red. It’s vivid, full of colour and one of the few examples of Puma’s core design enhancing rather than diminishing the overall aesthetic.
Japan home (Adidas)
Both of Japan’s World Cup shirts are inspired by origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding. The home shirt is the traditional “Blue Samurai” colour but also has an all-over graphic that resembles an origami model of Yatagarasu, the mythological three-legged-crow that appears on the Japan Football Federation crest.
Japan away (Adidas)
The clean white away shirt bears the same Yatagarasu origami graphic on the sleeves but also adds a dual-tone blur effect to reflect the energetic, fast and flowing style of Japan’s signature approach to football.
Mexico away (Adidas)
A jersey steeped in the indigenous culture of ancient Mexico, the beguiling away shirt is covered all over in Mixtec art that, says Adidas, will “summon the fighting spirit of the nation.” Like the home kit (an instant classic), the deep red pattern here is inspired by Quetzalcoatl, the “feathered serpent god” and creator of the world and all humanity.
Along with the standard red-and-green trim you’d expect to find from the Atlas Lions, a pale grey vertical stripe houses the national federation crest. There was potential to do something special with the use of an intricate pattern inspired by traditional Moroccan mosaics that surrounds the shirt number, akin to the Marrakech jersey from Puma’s special range of city-themed kits released in 2020, but it was a missed opportunity.
The vibrant green base is pleasant enough, but the graphic — which Puma says is intended as an abstract interpretation of a rampant lion’s gaping jaw — is just too minimal and indistinct to be effective. Africa’s reigning champions deserved better than this.
The central graphic is a stylised reference to the coat of arms found on the base of the bronze monument to Prince Mihailo in Belgrade. With all historical significance removed, you’re looking at a chintzy gold sheriff’s badge on a plain white football shirt. Extremely dull.
Spain home (Adidas)
The accompanying Adidas blurb for Spain’s new home shirt features vague odes to “footballing DNA” and “timelessness,” but essentially what we have here is just a fairly standard arrangement of the old red, blue and yellow found on the national flag. Nice enough, but you’d struggle to pick it out from a selection of any of La Roja‘s jerseys of recent years.
Spain away (Adidas)
The away jersey is a different case, thanks in the main to an undulating wave pattern that has been lifted from the RFEF coat of arms used by Spain back in 1982, the last time the nation hosted a World Cup. The imposing design is likely to split opinion among fans but at least it’s a little more visually interesting than the home shirt.
To forget a football shirt while you’re still looking at it is an odd sensation, and yet here we are. White with a dull grey gradient and an officious red graphic that wouldn’t look out of place on a fresh pack of photocopier paper.
Puma claim it’s “fearless” but we fear that there’s just too much going on for the Uruguayan away shirt to make the grade as stripes, numbers, crests and a large central shield jostle for position and end up cluttering up the design beyond measure.