World Football 2014 Jerseys: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The football kit of a professional club is a chance to make a statement to peers and competitors. Some outfits take their chances well, while others fail miserably with the chance afforded to them.
Focusing primarily on the world's elite, we've looked at the fashions those among the sport's hierarchy have chosen to flaunt this season as well as what some nations will be donning at the 2014 World Cup.
Here, good awards are handed out to those ensembles that have been pulled off with flair and something different without verging into the gaudy. Gaudy belongs in the ugly column.
And as for the bad, these are the jerseys designers should have veered away from, whether it be due to poor tailoring decisions, awful colour contrasts or any other number of reasons.
Good: France 2014 World Cup Home
France is regarded as one of the world's fashion capitals, and the French team have once again managed to pull together a tasteful and elegant jersey for this year's World Cup.
As the attached advert displays, Nike has brought some modern technology to the shirt, which will supposedly benefit the player wearing it. But the reaction of many will probably stop at "Well, don't those holes on the side look neat."
There's nothing flashy about the navy design rounded off with a white collar, but Didier Deschamps' side would appear to be doing just fine with their "less is more" ideology.
Bad: Queens Park Rangers Third
Granted, Joey Barton's hairdo isn't helping the uniform gain any fashion victories, but even a fashion model would find it hard to pull off QPR's alternate kit this season.
With long sleeves, the third-choice option wouldn't look out of place as a school kit featured in a 1980s children's television show, a la Grange Hill, or as an unwanted sweater a youth might receive from his grandparent as a Christmas present.
Lotto, being Italian, also have a reputation to uphold in terms of the wares they produce, but the ball was dropped on this buttoned-up affair.
Ugly: Napoli 'Xtreme' Fourth
It's terrifically tough to know just what was going through Napoli's minds when they decided to release this fourth-choice kit midway through the season.
The Serie A giants decided to churn out an amalgamation of all three existing 2013-14 kits with the "Xtreme," which we're assuming is Italian for "worst camouflage ever."
The only saving grace about this green, baby blue, yellow, red and white number is that we're not likely to see it, save for very special fixtures or when the World Football Hipster Convention comes to town.
Good: River Plate Home
A new spin on an old classic can sometimes be risky, but River Plate have pulled it off, giving their usual red-and-white ensemble a breath of fresh air.
On its own, the red of the sash, collar and sleeve trim may not be special, but the black of the Adidas logo, sleeve stripes and belly sponsor works well on the white background. These simple colours work well as a team.
However, the most significant feature is inside the sash itself: a subtle tribute to El Monumental, the club's home ground, at which they have now played for 75 years.
Bad: Getafe Third
If the club were planning to use this kit for their nighttime jogging routines, so as to not be hit by traffic, Getafe would have hit the nail on the head. But this is La Liga we're talking about.
Life is, after all, a catwalk, and hardly ever does the runway entertain the idea of fluorescent colours, so there's no reason a club playing among the Spanish elite should.
From the unattractive collar to the awkward placement of Confremar's sponsor text, this get-up probably hasn't flown off the shelves in Madrid.
Ugly: RKC Waalwijk Home
RKC Waalwijk are currently going through a difficult battle against relegation. Their home fans must go through the agony of that uphill struggle, and they must watch their players do so in this lemon-colored atrocity.
Hummel evidently couldn't decide between circles, stripes or triangles, so the manufacturers just went with the "slap it all on" approach, and this is what came out the other side.
Blue and yellow is a scheme that can work to good effect—as we'll see later—but this is an example of how not to do it.
Good: Brazil 2014 World Cup Home
Now we're getting somewhere. The hosts of this summer's World Cup might just be the belles of their own ball when they rock up to Rio de Janeiro flaunting the classic yellow and green of Brazil.
Yet again, it's the small touches that make all the difference. Nike's slim-fit design makes certain that when Brazil are putting goals past their foes, they're also doing so in style.
Simplicity at its finest, the new design of the collar looks slick, and, as ever, blue shorts and white socks somehow sit perfectly.
Bad: Liverpool Third
Perhaps Liverpool should let Warrior design them an abomination of a third kit every season, because it really doesn't seem to have done the club too badly this term, and all superstitions are accepted at this point.
Screech from Saved By The Bell once wore a jersey similar to this black, purple, white and yellow number. The diamond patterning and odd assortment of shapes on the stomach beg the question of "Why?"
Never heard that selection of colours in the same sentence before? Neither had anyone else prior to this kit's release.
Ugly: Gillinhgam Away
Following a vote from the fans last summer, Gillingham decided to return to their classic blue home kit, but one remnant of the 2012-13 campaign survived in the form of their away strip.
Last year, the club had justification for releasing such an outrageously disgusting item of clothing. The club was founded in 1912-13, and the centenary provided a reason for the Gills to look back and celebrate their achievements.
So why, in year 101, have the masses been forced to look upon the jersey for a second season in a row, you ask? We don't have the answer.
Some of the players may well be tempted to turn up and say they forgot theirs in a bid to see if playing in their undergarments is an alternative to having to don that repugnant laced neckline.
Good: Malaga Third
Football clubs have a habit of saving some of their more extravagant and "risque" kit designs for the third strip, and that's a real shame, as they can often turn out to be the most attractive creations.
Such is the case with Malaga this season thanks to Nike's orange, white and black design. It features the right amount of wow factor along with a business side.
By virtue of good fortune, the Anchovies benefit from having a shirt sponsor, Unesco, that is bound to look acceptable on just about any colour selection or design. But this tangy construction uses that to its advantage by incorporating the colour into the shirt itself.
Bad: Gremio Away
This particular selection comes extremely close to falling under the "good," category, but there's just a tad too much '80s influence going on for our liking.
Gremio's away kit for the 2014 domestic and Copa do Brasil campaigns features the regular white with blue trim, but the wave design of the stomach is the slightest of steps too far.
The way one might determine which side of the coin he or she falls on is by asking, "Would I wear this walking down the street?"
For us, it's a no. Plus, it would be tremendously difficult to get stains out of.
Ugly: Rayo Vallecano Third
Vomiting on the football pitch isn't a regular occurrence—Lionel Messi, we're looking at you—but if it were, there's a good chance many players would walk around looking like this.
Rayo Vallecano really pushed the boat out with their third kit this season. It is a testament to that little angel on your shoulder saying, "Stop now, before it goes too far."
Rayo Vallecano didn't listen to that angel. Instead of developing a bright yellow number or the greenest of green kits, they threw it all in as one, complete with badly fitted collar.
Good: Arsenal Away
RKC Waalwijk weren't able to make yellow and blue work this season, but Arsenal may be willing to offer tips, as they appear to have fashion knowledge to spare at present.
Tastefully hooped sock? Check. A deep and rich shade of blue that works excellently alongside other primary colours? Check. A recognisable sponsor with elegant font that doesn't intrude on the rest of the kit? Check.
Round all that off with a buttoned-up flared collar, and the Gunners could well be celebrating come the end of this season, looking the part every step of the way.
Bad: Genoa Goalkeeper
Genoa's plan, in theory, is genius—or at least we're assuming it was their plan when this shirt was approved to go into production.
It's simple: Make the goalkeeper look enough like a part of the net, and eventually members of the opposition will begin to subconsciously strike the ball in his direction. Genius, really.
But somewhere along the way, someone thought giving the kit a Halloween theme was smart, and now Genoa's stoppers have to settle for looking like something an abstract artist would throw together.
Ugly: Milan Third
Like those fluorescent colours we discussed earlier, gold is a very difficult colour to make work to good effect. In all honesty, it is one of those prospects better left alone.
But not for the audacious Milan, who went all the way with this metallic-inspired strip Kaka can't wait to get out of.
If black and gold were the only colours in the equation, there's a slight chance the San Siro giants might have pulled off their task. But the splashes of red only help make the molten basis of the kit stand out all the more.