The Gnomes Of Zurich Are At It Again

I can actually understand why FIFA might be a bit touchy about emblems on shirts.

They’ve got it wrong before.

For example, in the 1934 FIFA World Cup tournament the Italian team (who won both that competition and went on to win in France in 1938) wore the Fascist symbol on their shirts: it’s clearly visible on the official tournament poster and TOFFS are still making and selling that particular shirt. Quite what FIFA thought about the Italian side giving the Fascist salute throughout the tournament isn’t clear, although this newsreel clip shows that players that featured in the infamous ‘Battle Of Highbury’ six months later weren’t shy about giving the glad hand during a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph.

Here’s a picture of future manager of West Germany Helmut Schoen playing for the famous ‘Breslau Elf’ before the war. Have a close look at the badge. Presumably FIFA didn’t think that was ‘political’ either.

After World War II, I don’t recall FIFA being too bothered about the communist countries who wore the red star on their shirts even though that’s an overtly political symbol. Similarly, political considerations seem to have been absent from the 1978 FIFA World Cup: a tournament that was cynically exploited for propaganda purposes by the brutal military junta in Argentina.

In the past couple of decades the political geography of Europe has changed a lot: for example, despite not being a monarchy since the Romanov dynasty was overthrown in the November revolution almost a century ago, the double headed eagle that was a symbol of that regime has now reappeared on the Russian football shirt.

Additionally, if national team shirts are not supposed to have any political, religious or commercial messages, then surely that also applies to the kit manufacturer logos.

But ultimately, FIFA couldn’t give a **** about anything other than FIFA.

That’s also worth remembering this weekend. We’ll be back before the end of the week with a look at the Euro 2012 playoffs and England’s friendly with Spain.

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