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In England, they are discussing about the St. George's Cross on the National team jerseys

Nike has changed the original colors and local policies are very opposed

In England, they are discussing about the St. George's Cross on the National team jerseys Nike has changed the original colors and local policies are very opposed

In anticipation of tomorrow's match against Belgium, the English National Team is at the center of a heated public debate. And no, the reason is not the defeat at Wembley against Brazil or the choices of Southgate. The reason is much smaller and hidden, precisely in the backneck of the newly launched home jerseys by Nike for the Three Lions National Team. A detail that was inserted as an easter egg for fans and enthusiasts and that in less than 48 hours since its official release has become the subject of contention among politicians, commentators, and even the coach of the National Team. In England, in fact, like perhaps in no other country in the world, football is synonymous with tradition, especially when it comes to the National Team, an authentic unifying symbol for a people that has never hidden its identity. And so the revisiting of the St. George's Cross created by Nike using new colors, purple and blue, for the flag of the patron saint of England, usually red on a white background, did not please a bipartisan public, from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Labour leader Keir Stamer

The leader of the opposition party was the first to publicly oppose Nike's choice: "I am a big football fan, I go to both men's and women's England matches. And the flag is used by everyone, it is unifying, it shouldn't change. We should just be proud of it. So I think they should reconsider and change it back". Starmer then continued: "I'm not even sure they can adequately explain why they thought they had to change it. They could even lower the price of the shirts". At the moment, the Authentic version is available for 150 euros, while the replica version costs 100 euros. Immediately, there was a response from the Prime Minister, who smelled a campaign issue and positioned himself on a very sensitive topic, stating that "of course I prefer the original and when it comes to our national flags, we shouldn't joke about it, because they are a source of pride, identity, and who we are. And they are perfect just the way they are".

A rallying cry that pushed Nike to issue a statement shortly thereafter in which they both wanted to explain their choice regarding the new colors and to reaffirm that the jersey will not be changed in its original design despite the many criticisms received in the last few hours. "We have been a proud partner of the FA since 2012 and we understand the meaning and importance of the St. George's Cross and it was never our intention to offend, given the significance it has for England fans. Together with the FA, our intention was to celebrate the heroes of 1966 and their successes. The cuff trim was inspired by the training kit worn by the English heroes of 1966, with a blue and red gradient topped by purple. The same colors are also present on the back of the collar as an interpretation of the flag". Prior to this, Nike had described the new design as a "playful update" created to unite and inspire all fans. 

Gareth Southgate, prompted in a press conference about the subject, preferred to dodge the question, instead focusing on the presence of the Three Lions on the jersey. "The most important thing", Southgate said, "is that the Three Lions are on the jersey, the true icon of the National Team, the symbol that truly sets the team apart". The National Team jersey is not something to be taken lightly, and if brands try every time to find an interpretation to innovate and differentiate the various editions, it is at the same time very easy to fall into contradictions like this, where different sensitivities react in different ways to an aesthetic choice. And politics continues to use football as a lever to position itself in relation to the more conservative segments of the electorate, without much difference between the various parties, pursuing an identity and reactionary narrative that does not help the sport to overcome some of its most deeply rooted taboos.