The History Of Soccer Sportswear
You may not know, or agree with this, but soccer is also known as the beautiful game thanks to the great kit players wear.
This kit has seen much growth and transformation over the years. Let’s look at the journey the soccer kit has taken.
The Victorian Era
While the first know reference to special football gear is from an account of King Henry the VIII’s football boots, dated to 1526, the first mention of football gear as we know it comes from the 1800’s. An image from the Winchester College football club shows two teams consisting of commoners and college kids, dressed in Red and Blue respectively.
Organisational football from 1860 often saw players wearing whatever they wanted, though the rules stated that the team captain needs to approve the cloths first. Teams would distinctuate between team members by the use of coloured caps or coloured sashes.
It is only from around 1867 that we see football rules and handbooks state that it is more ideal for each team to wear contrasting colours to make the games easier in the heat of the moment. From 1870 we begin to see clubs adopting unique, distinctive colours during games.
From here specialised footgear also arose with the first football boots simply being a player’s standard leather shoes with leather and nails added to the bottom for grip. The first shin pads also started emerging, made from modified cricket shin guards.
The Early Years Of The 20th Century
By the time the sport of soccer started spreading around the rest of the world, and way before it became possible to take part in online soccer sports betting, the use of special distinct football kits and wearing special shoes was pretty much standardised in the UK. So much so in fact that many European teams took their colours based on the clothes that UK teams were wearing.
To make the life of the referee easier during rucks, the rules were amended to state that the goalkeeper must wear a shirt distinct from the rest of the team so he is easier to spot. The pants of the players were also shortened to the shorts we know today. Originally players were required to wear pants that ended below their knees.
The use of player numbers wasn’t implemented until the 1933 World Cup, but by the Second World War, each player was allocated a number from 1-11 based on his or her role on the field. During the war we see much alteration to the uniform. Kits became more lightweight and streamlined with the removal of collars replaced with V neck designs and of course the use of synthetic fibres rather than natural cotton to save on war materials.
During this same period we see the FA remove the use of boots covering the entire ankle with a high top design replaced by standard below the ankle boots we are familiar with today. The first of these new boots was made by a little know company called Adidas.
The Modern Age Of Sports Wear
By the 1970’s clubs had created distinct kits for their players and started selling replica shirts to fans. Leeds United was one of the first clubs to capitalise on the commercial potential of kits.
This lead to the first sponsorships deals, with Eintracht Braunschweig displaying the Jagermeister logo on their kits in 1973 and a whole new era of sports sponsorship