You’d think designing soccer uniforms would be a harmless hobby. A little bit of graphic concept fun. A way to stoke some passionate but good-natured debate. But when it comes to Bolivia’s colors, you would be wrong.
As a way to pay tribute to the country’s vibrancy after visiting in January, UK-based kit enthusiast Angelo Trofa thought he’d post a colorful Bolivian shirt that resembles a pixellated rainbow. Before long, he was receiving abuse on social media and being compared to the Nazis. And not because it’s so bright and garish that staring at it for too long can bring on a headache equivalent to the morning after an eight-pint pub crawl.
The offending garb was inspired by the seven colors of the Wiphala flag, the BBC reports. It’s an official national flag representing the 60% of Bolivians who are Andes natives. But it’s a politically-charged symbol, since the non-indigenous population don’t accept it and use a different flag.
“I expected a bit [of abuse] but it snowballed and got a bit silly. I received torrents of abuse – mainly from angry Bolivian men – people saying they would kill me if I went back and that I was designing for the Nazis. The reaction was ridiculous,” Trofa told the BBC.
That’s the power of soccer on the internet: start the day as a harmless geek in Britain, end it as a Bolivian hate figure.