World Cup 2014 mascot

FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) are excited to introduce one of the most high-profile ambassadors of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™: a unique Brazilian three-banded armadillo (the Tolypeutes tricinctus), a creature that is indigenous to Brazil.

The mascot was officially launched as part of Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo’s weekly Fantástico entertainment show, where he was welcomed by Brazilian football legend and member of the LOC Management Board, Ronaldo.

“I’m delighted to welcome such an important member to the 2014 team,” said Ronaldo. “The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years. I’m sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country.”

One of the great ruminations of football kit design is the concept of multi-purpose shorts and socks.  That is to say, shorts and socks that suit, generally speaking are designed to suit, at least two of the outfield shirts in any team's season wardrobe.

There is a call for flexibility in this area due to greater emphasis than ever before being put on the avoidance of the "overall clash".  The implication seems to be that when two teams face-off they should not appear, even in the blink of an eye, to be similar in the way they are turned out.  This dictates that, occasionally, the intended and marketed combination of shirt, shorts and socks is inadequate.

Interchangeability is a concept, along with its contrary nemeses, which splits opinion.  In one corner, the traditionalist: logical, resourceful and considerate; seeing the benefit and good sense of giving each item most use and most function, thinking of the consumer buying not a pair of Home shorts but a pair of Home/Away, maybe even Home/Away/Third shorts - Utility shorts, if you will.

Whilst I make no apology for being opinionated, it occasionally becomes necessary for me to qualify my remarks.  For example, I recently railed against the use of sublimation in football shirt manufacture, only to have it pointed out to me that major sportswear manufacturers utilise the technique to create stripes, hoops, sashes and other integral patterns.  I was, of course, aware of this and merely hadn't been explicit enough in outlining that I was referring to sublimation's use when adding finer details such as single, double or triple striping on sleeves, manufacturers' logos, crests and sponsors.

Ah, sponsors.  Even more recently I wrote a piece taking aim at football clubs and associations - FAI, this means you - which allow shirt sponsorship to impact negatively on a design or reputation.  What I didn't make quite clear enough, it seems, is that I actually like football shirt sponsorship.

In fact, the right sponsor can make a football shirt.  Cork City/QPR with Guinness, St Pauli with Astra, Scarborough with Black Death Vodka (really!).  In my last article I referred to Liverpool's association with Carlsberg - as opposed to Standard Chartered - as being one which was celebrated by the fans, but I'm more of a Candy man (ha) myself, with a fondness for Crown Paints and, naturally, Hitachi.  In fact, befitting someone born in Kettering - home of the first British club to wear a shirt sponsor - I am keen to embrace brand logos appearing on shirts, if it's the right brand and the right logo, and the bigger the better.

CR Smith was a particular favourite with Celtic - though the larger player style rather than the downsized version used on the replicas.  And, whilst I understand the desire to get one's hands on a rarity, Uefa's limiting of the size of shirt sponsors is generally to the shirts' cost, even considering Borussia Dortmund's dispensing of the Die Continental wording on their run to Champions League glory in 1997, and creating a perpetually out of reach version of their 97-98 shirt in the final.

On the other hand, the Uefa rule that teams in opposition cannot wear the same sponsor - seemingly now defunct - has thrown up some great one-offs, as has the barring of alcohol and gambling sponsorship in certain countries.  Arsenal imploring people to visit Dubai paired up, in a cross-generational illustration of the UK's north-south divide, with Newcastle recommending a more modest outlay on a trip to Center Parcs.   Blink and you'll miss them but they attain legendary status.

Equally, an increased quantity can be as effective as an increased size.  The French - also prone to cross-competition sponsorship rotation - and, even more notably, South and Central American team's football kits are covered in logos.  It's cluttered and it must detract from from the original design but a large-sized main sponsor surrounded by smaller indicators of more modest deals, short sponsors - and here I do prefer sublimation, and will forever regret lending my 1994-95 l'OM shorts to a teammate, never to see them again - and even iconic sponsors on socks just, somehow, looks cool.  Like a Nascar or Piccadilly Circus, nay, Tokyo in football kit form.

If I haven't demonstrated my love for football kit sponsorship enough then I should point out that I've dreamt, for many years, of my own staccato-fixtured football team Marceltipool wearing an Away or Third kit displaying a whole array of sponsors.  How many?  Let's just say I have a number in mind...


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Adidas - The European Championships by Richard Debenham

Design work from Richard Debenham commissioned by Adidas for Uefa Euro 2012 - on display at the fan zones in Poland and Ukraine. The project's aim was celebrate the rich history between Adidas and the European Championships, showcasing the finest playes that have graced the competition.

The designs concentrate on 3 legendary players from the tournament's past from 1972 to 2008, taking cultural references and styles, along with key Adidas elements from the year of the championship.

nike renovated football pitch ukraine

Nike was joined by Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko today to officially open a renovated football pitch, sports ground and gym at the school in Kiev where he honed his football skills and received his education.

The sports facilities were renovated to provide students at the school and kids in the local community with a high-quality facility to play football and other sports and have a dedicated gym for indoor sport and physical education

"Ruined by the sponsor(s)" is an oft-repeated refrain on football shirt websites, particularly FootballShirtCulture.com, generally expressing disappointment at a warmly-received design carrying an organisation's logo which is to its detriment.

Football clubs need to make money.  More than ever before, any potential injection of funds into a team's progress has to be considered, even with significant drawbacks.  Chelsea took money from a Russian oligarch with a shady past in order to stop going out of business (and he won them the European Cup), Llansantffraid FC became Total Network Solutions for a time and Manchester United, through maximising fund-raising efforts by floating on the stock exchange, left themselves open to being taken over by debt-laden owners.

For most clubs, however, putting the name of a business on the front of the shirt is the major compromise of ideals.  The most crudely symbolic in recent times are those of short-term loan companies such as Wonga.com on the Hearts and Blackpool shirts and the-pawn-broker-it's-ok-to-like Cash Converters on Hull City's torsos.  These are indicative of recession-hit Britain and, like many others, are included on playing and replica wear much to the chagrin of supporters.

Sponsors' logos are not always disliked; Carlsberg became popular with Liverpool fans, and I've always greeted larger profiled designs on French kits - not least Montpellier carrying 'Sud de France' to represent in stopping PSG winning the French title whilst l'OM fiddled - but what to do for the many logos which don't stir the heart so expertly?

Well, sometimes allowing the fans the option of purchasing a sponsorless shirt acts as a PR olive branch.  Celtic - currently sponsored by Tennent's - retail their shirts with and without the brewers' logo.  In the cases of gambling and alcohol sponsorship, kids' shirts must be devoid of that kind of advertising so this is occasionally extended to the adult wear too, with pleasing results.  One other approach is to offer an alternative to the sponsor, such as Swansea City putting their date of establishment on the kids' shirts, though this is rarely offered as an across-the-board option due to the potential of the paying publicity seekers' branded shirts being eschewed.

But these are the exceptions rather than the rule.  Most fans are forced to both wear and watch their team carrying a logo which they may dislike aesthetically - l'OM's Intersport sponsor, in royal blue and red, is a sartorial faux-pas on a shirt of white, lighter blue and orange - or hold deeper rooted resentments against, such as, in my own case, Liverpool's Standard Chartered.  The latter belongs to a company, as if being a bank wasn't bad enough, which has spent its association with one of the world's most famous and decorated clubs shooting its mouth off and trying to engineer Anfield-policy with an arrogance and lack of discretion which can only be located in the finance sector.  But hey, at least the logo's not too ugly.

There are, still, other encouraging signs.  Both Celtic and, "The Rangers" will wear shirts in 2012-13 which carry much smaller Tennent's logos below the crest, rather than broadly across the body, with Celtic still allowing the removal of this if preferred.  Quite why the so-called "Old Firm" blanket polices still need to be in place is beyond me but, regardless, it's a tactic which has been employed in hugely popular Manchester City and Inter Milan shirts in recent history and long may it continue.

Sadly, for every company which agrees to reduced visibility - such as on the new Coventry kit - there'll be a team which signs with a company whose logo immediately renders their shirt cheap and nasty (equally true in the DF gallery where one minute you get a beautifully subtle Real Madrid kit and the next a nauseating Colchester United shirt).  Even Barcelona have let their shirts be sullied by not one but two sponsors.

But why do I choose this moment to rail against shirt sponsors?  We are, of course, in the midst of an international football tournament where shirt sponsorship does not feature.

If only that were true.  The FAI, reprehensibly, still sign deals which allow sponsorship to appear on Ireland replica shirts.  As iconic as the Opel sponsor became, and despite being blessed with the historically and enduringly brilliantly-sponsored Cork City, the fans want sponsorless shirts.  With there only really being one place that generally offers them - and only previous styles at a far from Irish recession-friendly price - the fans are often forced to think outside the box with their purchases, inevitably impacting on replica shirt sales.  In 2012 it was the turn of the gorgeous training shirt to be a popular surrogate - pictured here sandwiching a pretty girl with a player issue unsponsored long-sleeved Italia '90-era example - to the point where it sold out.  Is the extra revenue received from association sponsors genuinely calculable to cover the amount lost in shirt sales?  Would relocation of the partner's logo be so hard to insist upon?

We, as football fans, deserve the choice - none more so than the sea of green.


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new cardiff city crest

Cardiff city unveiled their new football kits and a new crest.

The club's investors have been impressed with the passion and commitment from Cardiff City supporters for their team and want to harness these strengths to create an affinity between the club and the cultures of Wales and Asia. With that in mind and as a part of the significant investment made to give the club the best chance of succeeding in this area, they believe very strongly that there is a need to make some radical, but important changes to their brand.

The colour red is widely recognised as being synonymous with Welsh culture and heritage, with Cardiff the proud capital of the country. The colour also holds strong spiritual significance in Asia, where it is seen as a symbol of prosperity, power and good fortune.

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