The new England kit by Nike features a multicoloured cross.
The new England kit sports a multicoloured cross.
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Controversy over new England kit ignores the real scandal

The new England kit has, regrettably, been front and centre of the interminable culture war this week. 

Political leaders, pundits, keyboard warriors and columnists who haven’t written an original thought in years have all waded in, offering their tuppence on this confected quarrel.

Nike, you see, had the temerity to alter the St. George’s cross and stick it on the collar of the new jersey. It was, in their words, a “playful update” to “unite and inspire”, but judging by the reaction on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, not in the way they hoped.

The US sportswear company were immediately bombarded with complaints and demands to recall the kit over the multicoloured cross, which features navy, blue and purple.

The topic became a lightning rod for politicians to capitalise on, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer conveying their dismay.

 

Right-wing populist and professional buffoon Nigel Farage said both men were “right” to call out Nike. Joey Barton seemed to burst into a fit of rage at the alteration. Always a good sign when you’re on the same side as those two.

It seems that the cross’s resemblance to the bi-sexual pride flag is behind a lot of the outrage – even though the design choice was a nod to the training gear work by England‘s only World Cup-winning squad in 1966. It’s not even the first time it’s been modified.

Nevertheless, they saw an open goal and tapped the ball home from the one yard line. But in doing so almost every one of these charlatans missed the real scandal at the heart of this ‘controversy’.

That is, the shocking price of this particular England jersey, the pro version (whatever that means) of which will retail at a whopping £125, while the replica version is going for £85. There are also different options for kids, retailing at £120, £85 and £65.

 

This didn’t go without comment, it should be said. Starmer did give it a passing mention, but only after devoting far more words to the bastardised St. George’s cross, while Peter Shilton briefly touched on it while doing his well worn Old Man Shouts At Cloud routine.

But the price was still being treated as an afterthought, as if it was a side issue when it should be the issue at hand here.

For far too long football fans have been ripped off at every turn, whether that be match tickets, television subscriptions, merchandise or indeed kits. To see politicians attack something so trivial during a cost of living crisis is laughable.

Nike released a plethora of international kits this week, all of which will cost the same amount of money to purchase as England’s. But they are a symptom of the problem, not the cause.

 

Castore revealed the Republic of Ireland’s latest kit as well, the pro version of which will set you back €140. Worse still, fans are expected to fork out for a new top every year, such has been the relentless output of new Irish kits in recent years.

This was already the trend in the club game, of course. Premier League clubs, with the exception of Brentford, release not just one but often two or three new jerseys every single year. And the price of these are only going in one direction.

Is it wonder that the counterfeit jersey market is doing such good business these days?

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