How soccer clubs fleece their fans with ever new jerseys

Photo by Emilio GarciaFor years, soccer fans have grumbled at the increasingly absurd excesses in the jersey trade. But now the wheel seems to have turned too far. Now there is a dispute over the material. A home jersey, an away jersey, an away jersey, a European Cup jersey, even warm-up jerseys are offered in the fan store. All completely overpriced and in colors that sometimes disregard tradition - that's too much of a good thing for many fans.

Where they once indulged in a passion for collecting, many now feel like nothing more than a customer who is to have his money pulled out of his pocket without much creativity. Sig Zelt, spokesman for the ProFans alliance, calls the measures "a convulsive attempt to boost business even further." In addition, he said, the prices of the jerseys have been "exaggerated for years." The "Authentic" home jersey of FC Bayern Munich with flock and logos currently costs 157.95 euros in the fan store.

Stefan Appenowitz, author of the book "Bundesliga-Trikots. 1963 bis heute" speaks of a "jersey inflation". Abroad, there are clubs "whose jersey design is unalterably fixed. FC Barcelona always competes in blue and red stripes, Inter Milan in blue and black, Juventus Turin in white and black," Appenowitz told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "Only one club in Germany has such a trademark: VfB Stuttgart with its red breast ring."

The fact that there is basically a market is shown by the special jerseys, which are doing well. The 1. FC Köln carnival jersey is a big seller every year. The same goes for Mainz 05's Shrovetide jersey, FC Bayern's Oktoberfest jersey and Borussia Dortmund's 2019 special edition "Kohle&Stahl".

But in the previous week, BVB was the trigger for an emotional discussion. In a leaked original version of the European Cup shirt, the club crest was missing. It was added, but barely recognizable. He was "certainly not Borussia Dortmund's most popular employee among our fans," Dortmund's head of marketing Carsten Cramer noted in the podcast "kicker meets DAZN": "That's quite a narrow ride, doing marketing for a soccer club." Puma CEO Björn Gulden, once a professional soccer player himself, apologized to the fans and promised: "We will take the feedback into account for future jerseys."

Even when FC Bayern's Champions League kit was worn for the first time, spectators rubbed their eyes in amazement and often alienation. Instead of classic white or red, or at least black as in previous years, the players' chests were marked by numerous splashes of color. It was "a stylized mountain world," the club announced, "symbolizing the ties to the homeland and roots as well as the claim to always aim for the highest peaks. In the league, Munich played last in the green costume look, because this Saturday the Oktoberfest would have started. Would have. However, special shirts are also produced with great advance notice.

And sometimes the club and its supplier pull off a coup - and then the bureaucracy steps in. For example, UEFA banned Ajax Amsterdam's special jersey, which had three birds embroidered on the back of the neck as a reminder of the Bob Marley song "Three Little Birds. Only team symbols were allowed in the neck area, UEFA explained. The shirt nevertheless became a cult among fans. "The jersey saw very high demand within a very short time," an Adidas spokesman said, announcing, "In the coming years, we will continue to introduce iconic but also modern jersey designs together with our partner clubs."

The trend toward sustainability is positive. Second-division club FC St. Pauli produced its own jerseys to meet all the criteria. Those of Bundesliga team Arminia Bielefeld are made from 13 half-liter PET bottles that are 100 percent recycled, according to the club.After all, jerseys are an important economic factor in ensuring that expensive players come close to paying for themselves. Cristiano Ronaldo's shirt was sold over 300,000 times in the first twelve hours after his return to Manchester United. And thus more often than any shirt of a Premier League player in the entire pre-season. Sales in those twelve hours are said to have amounted to almost 40 million euros.For the professionals, too, the new designs apparently mean a change. Fenerbahce Istanbul's Muhammed Gümüskaya wanted to kiss the crest on his jersey after scoring the winning goal in the Europa League qualifier against HJK Helsinki. But he didn't find one.



Photo by Emilio Garcia

 


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