Losing Never Looked So Ugly

Could the fashion choices of these managers have something to do with their teams’ poor performances in past World Cup finals?

We’ve already taken a close look at the World Cup winners—specifically, a what their managers were wearing when they won. I caught some fashion faux-pas, but, for the most part, the winning managers weren’t in need of a mom- or wife-led attire intervention. A glance at the losing World Cup coaches turned up quite different results, and after a thorough study I have identified a few patterns and pitfalls for current coaches to avoid.

In addition to a fashion kiss of death, these missteps coincide with World Cup failure at the last hurdle. Mere coincidence? Perhaps. But perhaps not.


Lime Green + Tracksuit = Failure

Arrigo Sacchi won everything as the coach of AC MIlan. The Scudetto. The Champions League. The Coppa D’Italia. A defensive genius, he famously boasted that seven well-drilled and organized defenders could defend the entire box against a full team. Sadly, he undid all his tactical wizardry by wearing this appalling green tracksuit while coaching Italy in the World Cup final.

If you were Roberto Baggio, could you hit a shot on frame with a lunatic roaming the sidelines in lime green?

Mario Zagallo

Baggy + Tracksuit Also = Failure

Being the coach of Brazil isn’t easy. On the one hand, you have the best pool of players available compared to any other country. On the other hand, your country’s romanticized soccer history creates hefty expectations and clashes with the realities of the modern defensive game. In 1998, Mario Zagallo, a champion as a player with Brazil in 1958 and 1962, seemed to overcome these obstacles as he coached the Seleção to the finals against home nation France.

In the finals, though, things did not work out very well. His blue and white tracksuit set a slack tone for defending on set pieces, and Zinedine Zidane headed in two goals in the first half. Yes, sometimes your clothes can be too casual. The World Cup final is no place to dress like you’re on a shuffleboard court in Boca Raton.

Germany coach Rudi Voller

Never Wear the Same Suit Twice

Hubris has undone many a coach. Rudi Voeller, former player for Germany and coach of the team during the 2002 World Cup in Japan & South Korea, sported a passable beige suit and blue dress shirt combo in the semifinal vs. South Korea. He didn’t wear a tie, but this wasn’t a “welcome to a casual work environment” statement, and ties can be hard to find.

All on all, Voeller’s outfit was acceptable. Here’s the problem: he wore the exact same suit in the final. What’s the Cardinal Sin of attractive attire? If you’ve worn it once, it’s worn out. “Repeat” is for old people who still use VCR’s, not snappy dressers. Of course, this—not the Ballack suspension or Oliver Kahn’s slippery fingers on the first goal—led to Germany losing the final to Brazil. No matter how good the outfit, just don’t wear it a second (consecutive) time.

France v South Africa: Group A - 2010 FIFA World Cup

Don’t Reveal Your Secrets… or Your Sleeves

Raymond Domenech, bolstered by the last minute un-retirement of Claude Makelele and Zinedine Zidane, coached the French national team to the World Cup final in Germany in 2006. However, by this time, everybody knew the French game plan: a single striker, a tandem of holding midfielders, and the ability to turn any game into an excruciatingly tedious endeavor. Even worse, Raymond Domenech’s jacket sleeves were too short and his pant legs were too long. We’ll never know what would have happened if Zizou had kept his cool, Trezeguet could shoot a penalty on goal, or Domenech could find a suit that fit him properly.

Netherlands v Spain: 2010 FIFA World Cup Final

I Repeat: Never Wear the Same Suit Twice

Bert van Marwijk dressed incredibly well throughout South Africa 2010 while patrolling the sidelines for Holland. Yes, De Jong and Van Bommel were ugly bastards on the field, but off it, the Dutch coach was stylish almost to a fault. Few folks can pull off the tie-less suit + dress shirt combo, but van Marwijk’s unrestricted neck offered a glimpse at what would be possible in a world of unlimited freedom. In the semifinal, he donned a nice gray suit and a black scarf tied in a European Mette-Marit Loop. Holland defeated Uruguay and the final beckoned.

Sadly, like Völler in Japan/South Korea 2002, Van Marwijk presumably slept in the exact same clothes for several days straight, or maybe he just thought it was lucky, because he showed up to the final in the same outfit. How can you expect Rafael Van der Vaart to properly clear a Fernando Torres cross in extra time when you can’t even pack a second suit? You can’t. And Holland lost.

Thus, the finals offer important lessons in losing and style. Injuries. Suspensions. Mistakes. Everybody wants to blame the players for a loss. However, success starts at the top. You either dress to success and inevitably impress, or you lose like the rest.