In 1857 the world’s first organized soccer team was formed in Yorkshire, England. They called themselves Sheffield FC and would go on to lay the cultural groundwork for what is now the world’s most popular sport. Their jerseys were simple, easily identifiable, red. But that wasn’t the case for long… eventually teams started to take the creative liberties you’d liken to tie-dye shirts and Bon Iver side projects. Jerseys became an ostentatious symbol of what happens when low-art meets professional sports, and to prove that to you, we’ve rounded up 10 of the ugliest and told their relatively untold stories...
10. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1994 AWAY KIT
Two years prior to the MLS forming, America held it’s first, and to-date only, World Cup. This event marked one of the nations most important forays into the global game -- the entire world was watching diligently, and the American team had the reputation of an entire nation at their feet (literally). Knowing this, adidas hilariously created a faux-denim jersey that would forever be a passé scar on US soccer's voguish history. Part-time sorcerer and the team’s star player Alexi Lalas stated, "At first, a lot of us thought the jersey was a joke or a prank. When it dawned on us that was not the case, I was like, 'Oh Crap!' We were already under incredible pressure not to be a laughing stock and someone had thought it was a good idea for us to take the field in faux denim”. Apparently, it was a good idea because they ended up selling around 60,000 replicas of the jersey at stadiums during the World Cup.
9. SAN JOSE CLASH, 1996 HOME KIT
The Clash, and the jersey with colors
that adhere appropriately to their name, took part in the inaugural MLS game, beating D.C. United 1-0. There were 32,000 fans at the match in Spartan Stadium, and they watched the double-threat Melrose Place
"star” Andrew Shue handle the coin toss (#1996). The first goal in MLS history was scored by the Clash’s Eric Wynalda, who was the leading goal scorer for the U.S. Men’s National team until Landon Donovan broke his record in 2008. Also on the field that day was D.C. United midfielder John Harkes, who would go on to be named “Captain for Life” before having an affair with Wynalda’s wife, getting dropped from the team two months before the ’98 World Cup, and always picking Oddjob in GoldenEye
. He's that
8. ENGLAND, 1996 GOALIE KIT
Worn in the 1996 UEFA Championships in England, this goalie shirt is disgusting. Like, all of the Teletubbies were crushed under the weight of David Seaman’s creep-heavy mustache and ended up as a bloody mess on his shirt disgusting. And when he wasn’t busy wearing awful garments and destroying children’s dreams, David Seaman tried his hand at the British quiz show They Think It's All Over, only to be fired a year later and replaced by former Arsenal teammate Ian Wright. To escape that humiliation, he later signed up for Strictly Ice Dancing (the UK, ice skating version of Dancing With The Stars) and totally redeemed his name, and mustache, when he won the competition. Then in a bizarre move that left 17 people around the globe perplexed, he chopped off his ponytail on live TV for charity, effectively ending the talks he was actually having with L’Oreal who were interested in sponsoring his hair. This guy needs his own 30 for 30.
7. DUNDEE UNITED F.C., 1993 HOME KIT
This pitiful excuse of a uniform is better suited for paint ball in the Arctic Circle or a box in your friend’s grandmother’s basement. It looks like someone threw it into a bunch of muddy leaves/twigs, let the dirt set, and, with a slight smirk, nodded to themselves assuredly and muttered “yessss”. Someone, somewhere was paid for doing this, and we salute them. Dundee may be where DMA Design
(now known as Rockstar North) founder David James created his company, but this jersey is more in line with United’s nickname: The Terrors.
6. MEXICO, 1994 GOALIE KIT
Jorge Campos is a madman who, thanks to his physical ability and/or ingestion of 6 Monster Khaos’, would often start in net and then play striker later in the match. They called him El Chapulín, meaning the grasshopper, likely because he’d scare the sh*t out of nervous children. He was best known for his goalkeeping style -- often straying from the net and ending up along the midfield line like a brightly-colored Alzheimer’s-ridden cricket, er, grasshopper. Jorge also designed his own goalie jerseys that reflected his personality, including this staple of menswear, for the 1994 World Cup. After he came back to reality and finished up his futbol career, he opened a sandwich shop franchise called Sportortas-Campos, where he often wanders into the meat fridge, probably.
5. ESTONIA, 1996 GOALIE KIT
What’s particularly interesting about this ugly kit is that it was worn in the “One team in Tallinn” match, a World Cup qualifying game against Scotland that was abandoned after three seconds. The match was originally scheduled for a 6:45pm start time, but Scotland protested at the lack of floodlights in Tallinn (the name of Estonia's home stadium) and appealed to FIFA to play the game earlier in the day. FIFA approved their appeal and moved the game to 3:00pm. The Estonian FA were super pissed at the loss of television revenue that resulted from the time switch, and protested by not recognizing the decision. Scotland stood alone in Tallinn at 3:00pm, and the Tartan Army (nickname for Scottish fans) began chanting "One team in Tallinn, there's only one team in Tallinn". Estonia showed up at the original time, and the game was played a year later.
4. TSV 1860 MUNCHEN, 2010 150th ANNIVERSARY KIT
The German club released a uniform version of a scrapbook for their 150th anniversary. The photos, which seem to have been taken by a camera with zero knowledge of white balance, are of players, managers, and board members from the team’s history, all of whom would probably get increasingly frustrated looking at this thing before being overwhelmed with shame, regret, and disgust. If you look closely, you can clearly see the disapproval in the stone lion’s face. He never asked for this.
3. CAMEROON, 2004 AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS KIT
This kit was controversial because it comprised Law 4 of FIFA’s Laws Of The Game, which states that the shirt, shorts, and socks must be separate items. So when Cameroon donned this at the 2004 African Cup of Nations (CAN), those fun-sponges over at FIFA retaliated by deducting six points from The Indomitable Lions 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, and THEN fined them $154,000. Puma paid the fine on the organization’s behalf, but claimed
that adidas influenced the decision due to the German brand’s close ties with soccer’s governing body. To this day, Puma still refuses to go over to adidas’ house for potlucks and mutual friends’ birthdays.
2. LA HOYA LORCA, 2013 AWAY KIT
Produce-themed prints are up there with meggings as one of the most offensive male fashion trends in history. This eyesore comes to us from the Murcia region of Spain where second-division La Hoya Lorca suit up in what looks like something your mom consistently tried to make you eat as a child and you wouldn’t until she put cheese on top of it. They donned this look for the 2012-13 season, and after being promoted from D3, treated it as some sort of mythical talisman that would lead to continued success… and it did. The club has only gotten better throughout the years, although that could be credited to the fact their nickname is El Brócoli Mecánico or “mechanical broccoli”.
1. CARIBOUS OF COLORADO, 1978 HOME KIT
Allow us to regale you with the tale of The Caribous of Colorado. The Caribous’ transient existence lasted for just one year (1978) in the North American Soccer League (the MLS before the MLS). They were the first, and subsequent last, professional sports team to employ leather fringes, inevitably going 8-22 and finishing their one season in last place. Legend has it, any team who wears leather fringes automatically goes 8-22, even if said team only plays 16 games. So what happened to the team? Stick with us, because it's about to get weird. Caribous are not, nor have ever been, native to Colorado
. So, introducing a species to a habitat it isn’t equipped or adapted to survive in can and will only lead to one logical conclusion: death. The only other explanation is that the team was named after a abandoned mining town, Caribou
, that burned down in 1879, OR 1978 WHEN YOU SWITCH THE NUMBERS. The dots are laid out, now connect them.