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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Wednesday April 17, 2024
Wednesday April 17, 2024

Adidas implements ban on ’44’ for German team jerseys amid controversy

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The sportswear giant takes action to avoid associations with Nazi symbols, ensuring respect and inclusivity in football

In a move that underscores its commitment to combating hate and promoting inclusivity, Adidas has introduced a ban on customizing the German national football team’s shirts with the number 44. This decision comes amid concerns that the number bears an unintended resemblance to the symbol used by the Nazi SS units during World War II. The Schutzstaffel (SS), instrumental in the execution of the Holocaust, has left a historical wound that Adidas seeks to avoid referencing, even inadvertently.

The controversy surrounding the German team’s kit was sparked by historian Michael König, who criticized the design as “very questionable.” Furthermore, the team’s away kit has also drawn attention for its pink hue, igniting debates between those who view it as a celebration of Germany’s diversity and those who deride it as a break from tradition and a commercial manoeuvre by the German Football Association (DFB).

Oliver Brüggen, a spokesperson for Adidas, was quick to clarify that any resemblance to Nazi symbols was wholly unintentional, asserting the company’s staunch opposition to “xenophobia, antisemitism, violence, and hatred in every form.” In line with this ethos, Adidas will prohibit the personalization of jerseys with the number 44.

The SS rune, introduced in 1929, is indelibly linked to the atrocities committed by the Nazis, including the operation of concentration camps and the execution of mass genocide. Adidas’s decision reflects a broader sensitivity within the sports community to historical symbols and their impact.

This controversy arrives on the heels of another recent uproar involving the England football team’s kit, where modifications to the St George’s cross were met with criticism for perceived disrespect and “virtue signalling.” Amid these debates, the European Football Championship is set to commence in Germany, promising a convergence of sportsmanship and cultural reflection.

As the sporting world continues to navigate the complex interplay of history, representation, and inclusion, Adidas’s proactive measures highlight the industry’s evolving responsibility to honour the past while fostering a welcoming environment for all.

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