Teams in the World Cup over the years have worn different strips for various reasons. Some of them for scientific or motivational purposes. Some because they are just colourful. On occasion its because the kit man messed up. So why are the French side here wearing green and white shirts, blue shorts and red socks ? These tales of sartorial elegance start with the first tournament in Uruguay back in 1930.
When the Bolivian team appeared for their first game with Yugoslavia the players were wearing letters on the front of their shirts. At first nobody understood, until they lined up for the team photo and it was revealed that it spelt out ‘Viva Uruguay”. If they hoped to get the host nation fans on their side, it did not work as they lost 4-0. In their second game they played Brazil. At that time the Brazilians also wore white shirts. FIFA ruled that Brazil was the “home” team and Bolivia had to change to sky blue. They lost 4-0 again and exited the competition.
The game was in Turin and their coach revealed however that they hoped by wearing a Juventus style shirt they would enlist the local fans to their side. The ploy did not work as the stadium was packed with Brazilian supporters. Costa Rica lost that day and reverted to their usual strip for the next game.
In 1970 the English side turned to science in an attempt to combat their concerns over the heat and humidity of Mexico the players would experience. The England team doctor requested that the team wear shirts made from Aertex. This is a lightweight material that contains holes which add ventilation. Next they chose an all white strip, the change colours would be sky blue, and the usual change kit of red would be third choice. The thinking was the lighter the colour the more the strip would reflect the sun. This would help the players combat the heat and dehydration.
In the next game England reverted to red. The team did wilt towards the end of the game and the Germans in white came from two goals down to win.
Members of the coaching staff were sent out to all the cities sports shops. They returned with a couple of blue shirts. These were weighted and the staff rushed back to the shops to buy 38 shirts.
An Argentinean FA badge was quickly fashioned and sewn on while numbers were ironed on the back. Three days later the world watched the ‘hand of God’ goal.
The French management went to FIFA and it became clear that both teams had received a message telling them to wear white. The debate continued until one of the French management team realised he had received a second message instructing France to wear blue. The problem was now the blue kit was 400 kilometers away. The kick off was delayed whilst police cars were sent at high speed to one of the local clubs, Atletico Kimberley. The club donated their strip to the French cause. Although they only had 16 shirts. Which explains why the French played that game in green and white shirts, blue shorts and red socks,( top image). Just to add a little spice to the story, when Dominique Rocheteau scored for France that day he was wearing the number 7 on his shirt, and 18 on his shorts.
Strangely enough this was the third time in the competitions history a team had to borrow a set of shirts to avoid a clash of colours. In 1950 Mexico borrowed a set from local club Cruzeiro for their game with Switzerland. Then in 1958 Argentina played their game with West Germany in a yellow kit borrowed from the IFK Malmo club.
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