Adidas bans German fans from personalising jerseys

Germany jersey with problematic symbolism | The Guardian

Adidas bans German fans from personalising jerseys

Ayoola Kelechi 21:33 - 02.04.2024

The jersey manufacturers have acted quickly to avoid a situation involving Nazi symbols appearing on their Euro 2024 kits

Amid concerns over potential Nazi symbolism, Adidas has taken action to prevent German football fans from personalising jerseys with the number 44.

Adidas, the official outfitter for German football, has implemented a ban on fans personalizing jerseys with the number 44. This decision follows concerns that the number's design resembles symbolism associated with the Nazi party during the Second World War.

Concerns raised over Nazi symbolism

Historian Michael König was among the first to raise concerns about the design, suggesting that the number 44 bore a resemblance to the symbol of the Nazi party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The SS was a paramilitary organization responsible for some of the most heinous atrocities of the Holocaust.

The German Football Federation (DFB) halted the delivery of shirts featuring the number 44 and initiated efforts to find an alternative design for the number 4 in collaboration with their partner, 11teamsports. Despite the oversight, the DFB stated that neither they nor their partners recognized any proximity to Nazi symbolism during the design process.

Adidas spokesperson Oliver Bruggen emphasized that the resemblance to Nazi symbolism was unintentional and reaffirmed Adidas's commitment to diversity and inclusion. He stressed that Adidas actively opposes xenophobia, antisemitism, and all forms of hatred, making it clear that any promotion of divisive or exclusionary views contradicts the brand's values.

Context of the debate ahead of the European Championship

The controversy surrounding the jersey design adds to an existing debate in Germany over the choice of pink away shirts, purportedly aimed at celebrating the diversity of the country. The use of symbolism associated with the SS remains deeply contentious in Germany due to its historical significance and association with atrocities committed during the Holocaust.

The ban on personalizing jerseys comes as Germany prepares to host the European Championship from 14 June to 14 July. The incident underscores the sensitivity surrounding historical symbols and the importance of vigilant oversight in design processes to prevent inadvertent associations with divisive ideologies.

As the debate continues, Adidas's decision to ban the customization of jerseys reflects the broader commitment to uphold values of inclusivity and respect, particularly in the context of sports, where diversity and unity are celebrated.

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