As Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri described feeling “hurt” that both teams wore their away kits in his side’s Serie A title clash with Juventus, I believe it’s time teams went back to basics when it comes to change strips.
Imagine the great Serie A clashes of the mid-80s between Maradona’s Napoli and Platini’s Juventus, but not in the Napoli sky blue or the famous bianchoneri stripes of Juventus, rather in unrecognisable grey and yellow ‘change’ shirts. Unthinkable, right?
You’re not alone. Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri hurting, and not just from the 1-0 home defeat, but what these two Italian greats were wearing.
Football Italia reports Sarri as stating: “I am very sad for two reasons today, which is for the Napoli fans, and one for me, because I thought I’d die before I saw a Napoli v Juventus with grey jerseys against yellow…It hurt, as it hurt I imagine for those who grew up with Panini stickers and with attachment to club colours. It made me profoundly sad.”
Napoli did deploy their away shirt last season as the club’s chairman deemed it lucky.
In the Premier League, rules demand “sufficient contrast”. As a watcher of Brighton & Hove Albion and something of a football purist, I found myself perplexed as to why the Seagulls wore yellow at Old Trafford when their blue and white stripes and blue shorts in no way clash with Manchester United’s red. If the socks were the issue then surely they could just change those? This was especially confounded when Liverpool wore red at the Amex a week later.
Home kits are integral to a club’s brand, especially when – as in Brighton’s case – they are gaining global exposure for the first time. Having said that, in England, teams do not wear their change kit as often as one might think – take a look at the stats for season 2016-17.
One of the few cases I can think of where a change kit has usurped the home kit in iconic status is England’s red, mainly because it’s what the team wore in England’s solitary World Cup triumph and has since been immortalised.
But for Napoli versus Juve, their kits are iconic and inseparable to their brand, that’s what fans turn up or tune in to see. I can’t see the justification for wearing the change kit.
What do you think?