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German soccer team to change jersey numbers that resembled Nazi logo

If it were a different national team, the jerseys might have raised few eyebrows at this summer’s European Football Championship.

But a soccer jersey with numbers resembling Nazi SS bolts on a German team? No way.

Adidas, which manufactured the new jerseys for the German national team, announced  Monday that it will be swapping out jerseys featuring the number “4.” In the design, which debuted last month, the angle resembles an S from the logo of the Schutzstaffel, which operated concentration camps across Germany.

The move aims to avert a likely controversy — and bad vibes at the international tournament, which Germany is also hosting.

Historisch gesehen sehr fragwürdig solche Trikots zur HeimEM zu ermöglichen @DFB @adidas

— Michael König (@08MiKowitsch15) March 29, 2024

In addition to redesigning the 4, Adidas has also banned the order of custom no. 44 jerseys. The SS logo is banned in Germany; it is frequently used as a symbol by white supremacist groups worldwide. (No player currently on the German national team, which last won the Euros in 1996, wears the number 44.)

“Any attempts to promote divisive or exclusionary views are not part of our values as a brand,” Adidas said in a statement.

The German Football Association, which oversees the national team and was responsible for the design of the names and numbers, said it had reviewed all the digits 0-9 and numbers 10-26 but had failed to spot the similarity. Adidas said the resemblance was unintentional. 

Both can thank soccer fans online who pointed it out.

The design snafu comes at a fraught moment around antisemitism for both Germany and Adidas, which have had a seven-decade partnership that will end in 2027. (Germany said it was switching to Nike for financial reasons.)

Germany has faced a rise in hate crimes and far-right extremism in recent years, with the nationalist AfD party now polling higher than any of the three parties in government. And although the country considers support for Israel a “staatsräson,” or reason for national existence, its relationship with the Jewish state has faltered during the war in Gaza.

Founded in 1949 by a former Nazi party member who signed his letters “Heil Hitler,” Adidas is barely a year removed from a grueling saga involving Kanye West, whose very public antisemitic rants ultimately led to the company cutting ties with the rapper-turned-footwear-designer. Adidas recently began selling the nearly $300 million of leftover stock of West-designed shoes.

The post German soccer team to change jersey numbers that resembled Nazi logo appeared first on The Forward.