The Qatar World Cup is nearly upon us, and that means an array of delightful/grotesque international football shirts for us to enjoy/convulse over.
What do we think of Portugal’s bold diagonal stripe? Who has picked a mesmerising shade of red? Why have Argentina dressed like they need 144 off 20 overs? Is that… is that Jafar? Please do share your opinions in the comments below.
Here are the World Cup 2022 kits, ranked and rated from worst to best:
Netherlands home shirt (£74.95, Nike.com)
The Dutch home shirt is always exceptional so there’s almost no need to… oh. Oh dear. Described as “laser orange”, it is also quite “gold plate”. It looks like the shellsuit Gunter wears in Sing (what a film, by the way). It looks like a piece of tinfoil. It hurts our retinas. Arguably it could work for the Socceroos, but this is not a Dutch football kit and we will be taking no further questions on the matter.
We will come to some good flames later (hello, Argentina away). These are bad flames. The sleeves belong on the shirt of a mid-rank darts player. Kevin De Bruyne’s arms deserve better.
Big ‘would you like fries with that?’ energy.
Nike describe this as “a bold design that also celebrates diversity, youth, and unity.” Okkk. They go on: “Taking inspiration from design techniques found throughout the American fashion and streetwear industry, Nike’s design team employed unique ice-dying technique to create a vibrant, youthful print that brings the jersey to life.” You’ve said ‘design’ three times and the only conclusion is that this shirt was over-designed. Why does it look like a dental X-ray? Why can we see the face of Aladdin nemesis Jafar? Take it away.
This shirt is all about the background: it looks a bit like one of those children’s maps which has oversized pictures of landmarks instead of place names, with the Arc de Triomphe taking centre stage. This is almost cool but is ultimately, unfortunately, hideous.
A bit uninspiring.
Netherlands away shirt (£74.95, Nike.com)
This is broadly fine but we’re still getting over the home kit to be honest.
Canada home and away shirts
We’ve lumped these two together as they are so similar. They look polite and understated, like most Canadians, but we want a bit more from a World Cup shirt.
The US crest works well in the centre, the sleeves look good, but overall there’s nothing to get too excited about. Next.
The pattern is fun but the overall effect is very ‘Fulham getting promoted from the Championship’, which we can only assume was unintentional. Sorry, Japan, but all we can see here is Tom Cairney.
There’s something a bit ‘baseball’ going on here, and they neither charm nor offend.
One of many palatable, if underwhelming, red shirts at this tournament. We trudge on.
As hosts, Qatar could have showboated here with some lavish concoction of patterns and symbols purveying deep connotations to national roots (we’re looking at you, Mexico away) but instead they have opted for something simple, even demure, which elicits almost no emotional response whatsoever. One lovely detail is the serrated edges of the sleeves, a delicate nod to the Qatari flag, although the shirt’s colour looks closer to Bahrain’s flag, which also boasts serious serration, and this is confusing.
As Qatar have shown, there’s not a whole lot you can do with only red and white, but this is a smart clean look nonetheless.
As we will discover, Puma have really committed to their concept of the box in the middle of their shirts for this tournament, which looks better once it has a player’s number in it. We quite like this one, on top of the overall two-tone effect.
Looks a bit boxy but it’s original and we don’t mind it.
We’ve spent a long time looking at this shirt, staring into its soul. It’s been near the bottom of this list, near the top of this list, and now it finds itself middle-ish on account of it being somehow alluring and repellent at the same time. We want to frame it, but we also want to throw soup at it.
A simpler edition than the supreme Euro 2020 shirt from Wales this time, but this still comes with some touches of added green trim which please us.
There’s a rugby-ish quality to this shirt which has no place at a Fifa World Cup, but it’s still an agreeable thing to look at.
Jazzy shoulders. Too jazzy? No, about right.
Another fairly plain red kit at this World Cup, but this one does at least have some gold trim on the sleeves and a faint cross symbol in the background to elevate it up the rankings.
Saudi Arabia away shirt (£74.95, Nike.com)
The leaf motif is quite soothing.
This has the classic look of an Australia home shirt with the intriguing addition of some background waterpaint splodge.
We like a kit that transports us to years gone by, and the simple, searing red with navy trim takes us back to England’s 1-0 win over Germany at Euro 2000, when Alan Shearer scored a back-post header and wheeled away with his arm in the air. The only great memory from an otherwise awful tournament for England, but we’ll take it.
The problem for Germany is that they will never beat their exceptional shirts of the 1990s, and so whatever comes now will always be tinged with disappointment. It also doesn’t seem right to have such a bold portion of black down the middle of what should be a predominantly white home shirt. All that being said, it’s not a bad-looking kit.
At first glance this is quite uninspiring, but look closely and you find a neat yellow pattern swirling away in the background. A pleasing Easter egg.
Wow, that’s quite something. Let’s check in with Nike: “The kit highlights Taegeuk, the symbol found on the Korean flag that represents national pride and balance between heaven (blue) and earth (red).” OK, we’ll take your word for it.
A good-looking if unspectacular home edition from Spain this time around, with all the regality you’d expect.
Perhaps Nike felt a fully complete red-and-white checked pattern was a little too obvious, but it is a tried and tested formula when it comes to the Croatian home shirt – an icon of the international stage – and they’ve toyed with it. Saying all that, we do quite like this twist on a classic which just about comes off.
We like this: the green and red dovetail on the trim of a white shirt which bears Morocco’s elite national crest in the centre, on an interesting geometric web-crown pattern.
The star is font 32 and needs to be font 18, but we’re nit-picking. Delightful sleeve trim.
It is not often that your eyes are drawn to a football kit’s shoulders but that is the effect of the England home shirt, which is either ‘futuristic chic’ or ‘useful reminder to refill the printer ink’, depending on your persuasion. It’s intriguing, and we like it.
Another bold shoulder by Nike which we endorse.
We don’t trust diagonals, as a general rule, and this is significantly more green than there should be on a Portugal home shirt, but it sort of… works?
The lion logo always elevates a Cameroon shirt while the high collar adds an air of authority. Respect.
The good people at Marathon have supplied this kit and it’s enjoyable, with red and navy trim and a little map of Ecuador between the shoulder blades. Well done.
Better, Belgium, much better.
Not entirely sure what to make of the yellow boxy thing in the middle, and it’s a little bit ‘Cameroon home’, but overall it’s a very enjoyable thing to look at.
Iran home shirt
Do we like the red and green paintbrush streak across the chest? Sure. Do we like the surprise whitewash visage of a peering leopard? Yes, yes we do.
Saudi Arabia home shirt (£74.95, Nike.com)
Perhaps this pattern is what Nike originally came up with for USA away before things got out of hand. This is how to do the vibrant trippy look.
The best collar at the tournament. Collar perfection. Prydferth.
Argentina have a duty to provide a classic shirt worthy of the potentially historic moment on 18 December when Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup and slowly ascends to heaven. This shirt achieves that brief.
Everything we want from a Mexico home shirt. Very good.
Denmark shirt (all)
[serious tone] Hummel’s monochrome shirts are about as close as we’ll get to a meaningful boycott of a World Cup won via corruption and built by needless sacrifice, so their small stand of defiance should be embraced, even if it might have the whiff of a PR stunt. Also, they are beautiful, particularly the menacing black.
There’s no need to get silly with the Brazil home shirt: it’s a classic, a masterpiece, and it really needs treating that way. Nike have done a good job here, slightly tweaking the shade of yellow on top of a “debossed jaguar” pattern, but mostly letting Brazil home do its thing on its favourite stage.
Admittedly this shirt is a little more ‘Kolkata Knight Riders’ than we’d want in an Argentina away kit, and the flames would be gimmicky on just about any other team, but Messi will make this look cool and that’s all that matters.
Using a pattern which we’re told is a riff on the ‘D’ of Deutschland, the colours all come together to produce something genuinely intimidating here. Someone, somewhere, probably England, is going to lose a shootout to this bad boy.
More jaguar print from Brazil, against a purple-blue shade that could legitimately be described as horrendous on almost any other team, but you just know they’ll pull it off.
We’re going to call this a ‘horizontal sash’ and it’s an elegant thing. Portugal have produced some unsightly away gear in the past but this is just right.
There is no point fighting facts: the French have an elite national anthem, a top-tier crest, and the shade of blue their sports teams wear is extremely pleasing to the eye. Here it complements touches of gold which we used to see on French shirts before the past couple of World Cups, a colour fit for the reigning world champions, the wearers of the crown. The dash of tricolore on the sleeve is delightful, the collar understated, with a single button to hold it all together. Chapeau.
There’s something joyful about this shirt: the bright colours across a crisp white base, the illuminated sleeves and collar, the clean-cut V shapes throughout. Sadio Mane is going to score goals in this thing, and he’s going to look good doing it.
This is very playful from Spain. Are they waves? Jellyfish? Stalactites/stalagmites? Adidas explains: “The undulating graphic takes its dynamic inspiration from the art deco-style logo that welcomed football’s finest to Spain in 1982.” There you have it. Beguiling stuff.
It’s just a great, great shade of red. Opponents will be dazzled into submission. Is that even fair? ‘Pepper red’, we’re told, which doesn’t really do it justice but still: delicious. The tiger stripes are a satisfying addition too.
The collar, the sleeves, the button: exquisite simplicity, and a shirt worthy of Uruguay’s World Cup history. The fact they still unflinchingly add another couple of stars over the crest for winning the Olympic Games in the 1920s shows admirable disdain for convention.
Well, this is quite something. Over to Adidas: “Inspired by ancient civilisations, adidas infused [infused!] this Mexico away jersey with Mixtec art and Aztec deities to summon the fighting spirit required to rule the football world.” Sensational nonsense. Go on. “Amidst that eye-catching allover design, a signoff displays Quetzalcoatl’s serpent body — a representation of humankind’s physical capabilities.” Sure, absolutely. Most importantly, the shirt looks magnificent and we are here for it.