FA has no plans to recall controversial England kit


The FA has no intention of recalling the new England shirt despite the ongoing controversy brought about by the decision to change the colours of the St George’s Cross, Sky Sports News has been told.

The row was triggered after Nike revealed it had changed the traditional red cross and introduced purple and blue stripes.

The company dubbed it as “a playful update” to the shirt ahead of Euro 2024, inspired by the training kit worn by England’s 1966 World Cup winners, and in a statement on Friday said it was “never our intention to offend”.

A statement read: “We have been a proud partner of the FA since 2012 and understand the significance and importance of the St. George’s Cross and it was never our intention to offend, given what it means to England fans.

“Together with the FA, the intention was to celebrate the heroes of 1966 and their achievements. The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blues and reds topped with purple. The same colours also feature an interpretation of the flag on the back of the collar.”

Early sales of the Nike shirt, which costs £125 for the adult version and £120 for the junior kit, have been very strong, Sky Sports News has been told.

The decision has been criticised by a host of high-profile figures, including former England players, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer – all of whom feel national flags should not be altered.

An FA spokesperson said: “The new England 2024 home kit has a number of design elements which were meant as a tribute to the 1966 World Cup winning team.

“The coloured trim on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, and the same colours also feature on the design on the back of the collar. It is not the first time that different coloured St George’s cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts.

“We are very proud of the red and white St George’s cross – the England flag. We understand what it means to our fans, and how it unites and inspires, and it will be displayed prominently at Wembley tomorrow – as it always is – when England play Brazil.”

Has the St George’s cross been changed before on kits?

The cross of St George, and the Union Flag, have been altered in the past for sporting events.

Stella McCartney designed the Team GB kit for the Olympics in London 2012 with a “deconstructed Union Flag”, with only red collars and cuffs, on the edge of a purely blue and white uniform.

Previous England football kits have also tweaked the national emblems – most notably for the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012, when tiny St George’s Crosses – in purple, green and pale blue – were dotted all over the white shirt.

Peter Saville, who designed the shirt, said at the time it was inspired by the increasingly diverse fabric of England and he had “re-interpreted” the Cross in a recurring motif.

The green goalkeeping shirt at the same time had a striking array of crosses in various shades of dark and light green.

England's shirt for the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 had tiny St George’s Crosses - in purple, green and pale blue - dotted over the white shirt
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England’s shirt for the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 had tiny St George’s Crosses – in purple, green and pale blue – dotted over the white shirt

Joe Hart
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England’s goalkeeping shirt for Euro 2012 qualifying crosses in various shades of dark and light green

during the Women's Football Quarter Final match between Great Britain and Canada, on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at City of Coventry Stadium on August 3, 2012 in Coventry, England.
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Stella McCartney designed the Team GB kit for the Olympics in London 2012 with a “deconstructed Union Flag”

‘Don’t mess with national flags’ – Sunak wades in on England kit furore

Prime Minister Sunak has warned against “messing with” national flags after Nike changed the colour of the St George’s Cross on England’s new shirt.

Wading into the controversy, the prime minister argued the standards are “a source of pride, identity, who we are and they are perfect as we are”.

His comments came as a backlash grew over the modification to the flag by the US sportswear giant, with fans demanding the original flag be reinstated and an online petition collecting thousands of signatures.

Sir Keir Starmer has called for the colour on the St George's Cross flag to change back to its original colour
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Sir Keir Starmer has called for the St George’s Cross flag to change back to its original colour

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has already called on Nike to “reconsider” its decision, as the symbol was a “unifier”.

Labour’s shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry has also branded it “peculiar”, pointing out people would not expect the heraldic Welsh dragon to be swapped “to a pussycat” or the French tricolour to be altered.

Rishi Sunak says national flags should not be messed with
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Rishi Sunak says national flags should not be messed with

Sunak said: “Obviously, I prefer the original and my general view is when it comes to our national flags we shouldn’t mess with them because they are a source of pride, identity, who we are and they are perfect as we are.”

Sunak’s comments followed calls from opposition leader Starmer on Thursday for Nike to rethink the design.

A Labour government would create a “society of service” and embrace the charities and civic institutions on which the Conservatives are “waging a war”, Sir Keir Starmer is expected to say.
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Sir Keir Starmer has waded into the England kit debate

Starmer told The Sun: “I’m a big football fan, I go to England games, men and women’s games, and the flag is used by everybody. It is a unifier. It doesn’t need to be changed. We just need to be proud of it.

“So, I think they should just reconsider this and change it back. I’m not even sure they can properly explain why they thought they needed to change it in the first place.”

Petition launched to change kit

A petition on Change.org calling for a design change had already attracted more than 19,000 signatures by 10am on Friday morning.

Some football pundits and fans have criticised the design and price of the shirt since it was launched earlier this week.

An “authentic” version costs £124.99 for adults and £119.99 for children while a “stadium” version is £84.99 and £64.99 for children.

The Labour leader also called on Nike to reduce the price.

A Nike spokesperson previously told media outlets: “The England 2024 home kit disrupts history with a modern take on a classic.

“The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blues and reds topped with purple. The same colours also feature an interpretation of the flag of St George on the back of the collar.”

Euro 2024 fixtures, dates and groups

The Euro 2024 groups have been drawn, with England, Scotland and Wales – if they come through the play-offs – discovering their fates.

The tournament kicks off on Friday June 14 when hosts Germany face Scotland in Munich.

See the full Euro 2024 schedule here.

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