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The German national team will retire the number 44 from its jerseys

Due to its similarity with the runic symbol of the SS

The German national team will retire the number 44 from its jerseys Due to its similarity with the runic symbol of the SS

When adidas presented the new kits made for the German National Team, clothing and football enthusiasts as well as fans of the Mannschaft were quite satisfied. A pattern that nods to the past, a completely new Away version, and a longsleeve version that highlights the importance of the Three Stripes branding - destined to make way for the Nike Swoosh starting in 2027. And yet, an incredible retro typeface that faithfully recreates a vintage look. Only the most attentive (like history expert Michael König) noticed a rather significant oddity in the typeface: the number 4 resembles the S of the runic symbol of the Schutz-Staffeln, paramilitary formations formed in Nazi Germany thanks to the German National Socialist Workers' Party. Despite no player from the German National Team wearing the number 44 and thus the number not being seen worn by players during National team matches, Jonathan Tah, central defender of Bayer Leverkusen, played a few minutes with the 4 on his back, giving an idea of the resemblance between the letter and the number. Nevertheless, it would have been possible to purchase the German National Team shirt with the number 44 thanks to the customization option available on the adidas website.

Immediate statements from the parties involved arrived. Oliver Brüggen, a spokesperson for adidas, stated that there was absolutely no intention to highlight this similarity: «At adidas, people from around 100 countries work. The company is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and, as a company, we actively oppose xenophobia, anti-Semitism, violence, and hate in all its forms. Any attempt to promote divisive or exclusionary views is not part of our values as a brand.» Furthermore, in an exclusive statement to the BBC, adidas explicitly stated that it was the German National Team that chose the type of design. To adidas' move, the German National Team added their own, stating on X how the typeface had indeed been judged compliant by UEFA, emphasizing: «We take feedback very seriously and do not want to provide a platform for discussions. We will develop an alternative design for the number 4 and coordinate it with UEFA.»