The Real Reason Spain Crashed Out

It was those hideous jerseys

Much has been written about Spain’s early exit from this World Cup. Some people think say Spain’s problems were physical. Others say it was mental. Tiki-taka is dead, according to some. Still others say it was the so-called “Innovator’s Dilemma.” They’re all wrong. The real reason Spain lost is the jerseys.

The three people who watched the irrelevant match between Spain and Australia were treated to one of the ugliest jerseys in the history of the game: the black-and-neon-yellow, a color combination that could hardly be more anti-Spain. They are what jerseys would look like if soccer were imagined by a C-list sci-fi director making a movie about the future.

But the real problem is the home kit.

The jerseys are made by Adidas, which has created some of the most iconic images in soccer. But some doofus designer at the German sports manufacturer decided it would be a good idea to make Spain’s primary uniforms all red, instead of sticking with the red shirt, blue shorts combo that Spain has always worn. That’s just an unconscionable break from history.

There’s evidence to support my theory. Spain won Euro 2008 with some very cool uniforms. They featured the prominent shield and some very cool trim. Then, when they played in the Confederations Cup in 2009, Adidas handed them a hideous look with a bizarre stripe coming out of their necks and onto their shoulders. Was it any surprised that Spain was knocked out by the much better dressed U.S.A., 2–0.

In South Africa 2010, Spain again had nice uniforms: a much simpler design and a more vibrant blue. The 2012 European Championships saw Spain repeat with a very classy getup.

Then some more disastrous work by Adidas. For the 2013 Confederations Cup, the Spanish wore bizarre jerseys that made it look as though each player had a medal around his neck. They were the most presumptuous jerseys ever. Sort of like going around reminding everyone that “We Are The Champions.” It was annoying even to fans of the team like me.

I’m a firm believer in the old saying that “you gotta look good to play good.” If Spain is going to rise from the ashes of this World Cup, they’re going to require some help from the jersey designers.