Nike’s New England Shirt: Fans See Red Over Flag Makeover

Category

Branding

Read Time

3 min

Published

23 March, 2024

Photograph of the front and back of England's new Euro 2024 football shirt that caused controversy
Credit to Nike

Branding in the sports world is always risky business.

You have hordes of passionate fans giving it the big one anytime there’s a change they disagree with.

And England’s new football shirt has brought them out in their tens thousands.

So… why the kerfuffle?

Nike’s latest twist on St. George’s Cross has turned into a full-blown national drama.

Kicking Up a ShitKitstorm

But what’s really at the heart of this uproar?

It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about challenging tradition and sparking conversations on inclusivity through design. It’s an important topic being played out in the press in an oversimplified manner.

How?

Well essentially, Nike have given St George’s Cross a little bit of a makeover. And to some, that was absolutely not acceptable.

On the back of the navy collar, the new emblem intertwines blue and pink horizontal lines, with three horizontal shades of red.

It’s a smart and visually interesting take on the flag.

On release, Nike posted to X saying:

A playful update to the emblem of St. George appears on the collar to unite and inspire.

Cue mass hysteria.

Since its release, I’ve seen:

  • Tom, Dick, and Harry venting about the “sacrilege” of changing the cross
  • Gammon’s whinging that “we don’t need to bring LGBTQ+ into football anymore than it already is”
  • Z-list celebrities kicking off on the morning news
  • England’s dirt sheets (yes, that’s you Daily Mail) giving it pages of coverage
  • Every social post about it being commented on by a bunch of racist morons

But let’s step back for a moment. Amidst the uproar, there’s a deeper message about embracing diversity, inclusion, and innovation through sport.

Sportswear Meets Social Commentary

Diversity, inclusion, innovation are good things! (Just incase you were wondering.)

Nike are absolutely no stranger to controversy. See Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who essentially brought “taking the knee” to premier sporting competition.

This isn’t their first rodeo. From bold stands on social issues to embracing these issues in their marketing, Nike’s history of controversy has often led to meaningful dialogue and change.

Could this be another such moment?

Nike’s approach to the shirt isn’t just about making a statement; it’s about weaving these values into the very fabric of our culture — starting with what we wear.

And speaking of fabric, let’s not overlook the rest of the kit.

Nike describe the England 2024 home kit as a modern take on a classic white strip. The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England legends of the past, in a bold purple colour that remixes reds and blues of the past.

As well as Nike, an FA spokesperson commented on the colours that pay tribute to the 1966 World Cup Winners.

The coloured trim on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes… It is not the first time that different coloured St George’s Cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts.

Courting Controversy but Championing Change

It’s a visual and ideological leap forward, mirroring the evolution within the game itself — and beyond.

The players have embraced it, the design has sparked conversations, and once the initial shock fades, perhaps we can all appreciate the intent and artistry behind it.

Aren’t we all rooting for the same team when we support inclusivity and innovation?

So, before you burn your kit in protest, or draft another angry tweet, remember:

It’s just a bit of fabric, not the fabric of our nation.

Nike has kicked the traditional into the trendy, and frankly, we think it’s a goal worth cheering for.

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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