Many novel new experiences are available at this most unusual of World Cups.
For those in attendance there will be a chance to watch England without the help of 19 pints of continental lager.
For those staying at home, it will be the first time it has been possible to watch Cameroon lose to Brazil on the same day as opening the door of an advent calendar.
For all of us it will be a chance to watch a World Cup with the comforting thought that it’s only going to be 3.5 years until the next one.
Some things never change though, and in that spirit it is time to rank all 64 of the kits at this winter's tournament. Well, 62 for now, because Iran’s are stuck in grainy, social-media-leaked pic purgatory. Time waits for no Iran, we will have to put them in their place when they arrive. Possibly shortly after they take the field against England.
An unusual spread otherwise, with a fair amount of experimentation across the field but few shocking transgressions.
Who’s on the polyester plane? Here is your makers’ mark audit:
Let us begin at the bottom and work our way up towards the celestial heights of generously marked-up leisureware.
62. Ghana (away)
So here is Puma’s great cosmic joke for this World Cup. It follows the aesthetic disasters of its rush-released Euro 2020 kits (country name written stupidly on front) and its club third shirts last season (emblem on back of collar, club name written stupidly on front, but BIG).
This time: giant, ugly, senseless number windows ruining half a dozen teams’ away shirts. At some point perhaps it will come up with something innovative and new which also manages to look not appalling? We can dream! Until then, we have a model here who looks like he’s trying to find an escape route from his own photoshoot. Just wretched
61. Belgium (home)
Are you. Having. An absolute. Laugh? Knew a kid when I was about 16 who had that desperate black/flames sleeve idea stretched out across an entire short-sleeved shirt. Months later, after meeting him a few times, he was still known among my friends as ‘the guy with the shirt.’ It was the only impression he had left. Like the uniform for a terrible new Nando’s clone, and dude on the right has just found out they’ve gone into administration. He’s out of a job, but at least he can throw the shirt away.
60. Uruguay (away)
More hot steaming nonsense from Puma. Imagine wearing this without a number, it would be like going out for dinner without any trousers. I don’t know what they’re up to in Montevideo but it can not and must not be condoned. Woefully ugly.
59. Senegal (away)
The kindest thing you can say about this is it looks slightly less silly with numbers inside that bizarre, busy shield in the middle. A less kind thing you can say is that it is bobbins. The second one is closer to the truth.
58. Netherlands (home)
An unexpected move into velveteen which nobody knew they wanted and it turns out nobody actually wanted. Your grandmother’s worst cushion. Nikebloke here suffers here for not having the imposing body and face of Virgil van Dijk, who you assume will be pulling this off with more aplomb (and even if he’s not you’re not going to be telling him) but there’s no getting away from how silly this is. Makes outfielders look like they’ve been made to go in goal against their will.
57. Switzerland (away)
Just looks like something you’d run a marathon in. Put six digits in the box and be done with it. How many more of these are there?
56. Cameroon (away)
Genuine intrigue and legal drama here, as Cameroon are in a dispute with previous suppliers Le Coq Sportif, which allegedly has a binding contract to make their kit the end of next year. A court has ruled in Le Coq’s favour, raising concerns that Cameroon could be sanctioned or even kicked out of the World Cup. That’s because you are looking at the shirts which Cameroonian FA head Samuel Eto’o* says the Indomitable Lions shall wear to the ball ball in Qatar.
Made by One All Sports, presumably favoured because Cameroon would love to be associated with the score 1-1 by the end of this tournament. And hats off for their dedication to providing the sorts or eccentric design which could have been at the 1994 World Cup. You’ve got to like that as a general vibe. Have you got to like the shirt itself? I will allow you to answer that question.
*this isn’t one of those “no relation” scenarios, it’s actual Samuel Eto’o.
55. Canada (away)
You wait several thousand years (all right, 36) to appear in the World Cup and all Nike give you is this lousy all-white away kit. Elevated slightly by an intriguing number font, but we can’t start bringing those into the equation, especially when the promotional material (black) disagrees with the real-life evidence (red) on colour. Red, clearly, is the correct answer. Still fundamentally meh.
54. Cameroon (home)
Marginally less demented than the away version, but still made by the same company which may or may not contribute to Cameroon’s exclusion from the World Cup. What is it about Cameroon and kit controversy? Why not go the whole hog and cut the sleeves off too?
53. Argentina (away)
There was a moment in relatively recent history when all sorts of footballers or football-adjacent things were described as “on flames”. A pithy Jose Mourinho press conference answer, Jesse Lingard, Norwich City’s recruitment department, you name it. Football moves fast. None of these things are ‘on flames’ any more. Not in a good way, at least.
Now it’s all 'limbs' this, 'fraud' that and endorsements for non-existent crypto exchanges. Argentina are late to the party and in an attempt to say something to the kids they have created the background for the title screen of a Sega Master System game.
52. Serbia (away)
At least with this one you can pretend it’s a nicely-wrapped Christmas present addressed to you, if your initials are SRB. Hristos se rodi, Simon Richard Beckett.
51. Senegal (home)
A cheap look to this, with the too large chev-wrong hammering home a point which has been made more elegantly on the collar and sleeve trim. Helpful reminder that Senegal’s flag star is green, Ghana’s is black. Cheers Puma.
50. Denmark (away)
Rare that a team’s kit launch prompts actual news stories, but here is the exception: Hummel’s toned-down Danish shirt which it says reflects its uneasiness with the country hosting this tournament.
“We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn’t the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation,” said a statement. “While we support the Danish national team all the way, this shouldn’t be confused with support for a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives.” Which, you know, fair enough, if you ignore the Ian Hislop to Gary Neville riposte - there is another option: simply don’t get involved.
Hummel has made its and Denmark’s emblems almost indistinguishable on the shirts but both are still there. There is an all-black third kit which Hummel posted on Instagram with the caption ‘the colour of mourning’. Why not make that the away kit?
Still, this is comfortably the biggest statement any of the kit manufacturers have made about the nature of this tournament which should be noted. Applauded, even, if you like that sort of thing. JEERED if not, or if you just love jeering. For the sheer dullness of the kit, though, we have to maintain ranking discipline.
49. Morocco (away)
Careful Morocco, there’s an icy spider about and he is spinning geometric letter-trapping webs! Fortunately it barely registers in the context of an actual football kit. Now let’s try to forget that these Puma aways ever happened.
48. Poland (away)
Time to stage an intervention on Poland and force them to confront their pathologically safe kit choices. Another tournament, another shirt which takes the brief (red!) and runs a very short distance with it. No sign of the shorts and socks yet but given the home is all white and Fifa loves an uncomplicated light kit/dark kit split you can imagine they will be red too, and boring with it. Tougher to remember than the right order of Zs Cs and Ss in Szczsesny’s surname.
47. Canada (home)
A smidge more interesting than the identically laid-out home but still hugely disappointing. Would it kill you to bring in some maple leaves? Where’s the CN tower? Why is the fabric not housing Bryan Adams lyrics?
46. Brazil (home)
Oof number one for that shade of yellow. Oof two for that redesigned emblem which makes it look like a knock-off. Oof three for somehow mucking up one of the most reliably strong football kits with wrong-headed tinkering. The addition of blue to the boundaries of shirt and sock is neat but there’s a jaguar-style patterning on the shirt which halts any further progress. Annoying.
45. Serbia (home)
Please do not confuse this with Poland away, despite the similar colours and emblem. Let’s all try to get through this kit ranking without any new diplomatic incidents. Gold, as ever, feels presumptuous, as does putting your players in what looks like a minor royal’s throne for the promotional shots:
Tidy enough, but faintly-cheap looking, especially the arm-cuffs.
44. Germany (away)
Pattern like snakeskin boots. You’re in the closest thing this tournament has to a group of death, Germany. You are not the villain from a Roger Moore Bond film. Take it seriously!
43. Croatia (away)
Football kit as fading memory, oral tradition handed down with faults and foggy details. Has all the hallmarks of the sixth-best design which was presented for consideration which has somehow made it through all the way past judge’s houses and pulled off a surprise victory in the final. I assume teams decide on kits with an X-Factor style process? A cool idea, but ultimately looks like packaging for an off-brand phone charging lead.
42. Saudi Arabia (home)
!SWIZZ ALERT! This pleasant enough new home kit is just Saudi’s 2021 away kit in white rather than green, with a contrasting colour added to the collar.
Why bother adding to your collection of Saudi Arabia shirts when you can simply take your 2021 model down to the local Photoshop and ask them to play around with the filters until it’s looking like the 2022 version? Has a kit ranker ever been nominated for a consumer champion award?
41. Poland (home)
More tedium from Poland, this time with a pattern on the sleeves that could be a pointed statement about the perilous state of the Antarctic ice shelf.
40. Qatar (away)
Appealing pattern like an uncovered floor that would excite Tony Robinson on Time Team. All looking quite jolly in the promotional material, in which several of the Qatari boys seem to have ascended to the mollusk afterlife. Just plain white in practice, of course. Therefore: no.
39. Mexico (away)
Punchy new emblem, well-judged shorts and socks but deary me, that pattern. Should be chaotically cool, looks instead like the offcuts bin of a posh curtain shop.
38. Ghana (home)
Something which feels very World Cup-y about this. No, I’m not sure what I mean either. Got to love a well-integrated flag motif although it does rather look like Puma forgot about the black star until the very last moment. White/yellow panel where the collar meets a thoughtful addition for any players who are self-conscious about their sternum.
37. Tunisia (home)
Replaces a set launched in December 2021, which is a mickey-taking fleece job whichever way you slice it. Even worse, the pattern on the 11-month-old deposed kit was more fun. This one, the cuirass of the armour of Carthaginian general Hannibal, (as any fule kno) is a touch overbearing. Classic Hannibal TBH.
36. Qatar (home)
Shark fin detailing on the sleeves, which Nike would certainly be calling “Fintech” if that wasn’t already a thing. Disappointingly red. You’ve got the maroon right there in the flag, why not use it?
35. Morocco (home)
An evocative look, as it mirrors what the glorious boys of ’98 wore. Your Mustapha Hadjis, your Youssef Chippos, your… okay, I’m out. Theirs was green with a red stripe, this is a better idea, with neat integration throughout, avoiding the need for a violent red on green bloodbath.
34. Germany (home)
Wilkommen in der Welt’s narrowest zebra crossing. Adidas has had a blinder in general at this World Cup, but this feels like a bold but ultimately misguided concept. Germany crashed out of the last World Cup with a beautiful home kit, so perhaps this is a portent for their ascension back to the heights of Weltmeistersupermanshafft?
33. Uruguay (home)
Fine. It’s fine if you like this. It’s fine to find it bit boring. As ever, the pale blue and black combo is a winner. Bit of an abrupt end to the collar, and would be very worried about that button escaping in the washing machine. Let’s hope penny-pinching Puma include a spare, which if you buy this shirt you will be putting straight into a drawer then forgetting about until you move house, before moving it straight into the bin.
32. USA (away)
Oh my goodness they’ve moved the Nike emblem onto the sleeve! Break the glass, ring the emergency alarm - kit innovation has happened! A very NFL uniform move, but you wouldn’t get away with this sort of morose Grateful Dead tribute for the Buffalo Bills. A bit tentative. Darker shorts might have helped. Or funny little trousers with loads of pads.
31. Spain (away)
Can’t in good conscience condone the tidal map shirt but the balance with the bolder shorts is perfect. Just can’t shake the feeling that the team wearing this are going to get bullied at set pieces.
30. Portugal (home)
A good effort and nice to try something different. Red and green should never be seen? Tell that to Vasco de Gama. Ultimately though this looks like an obscure nautical flag. Self-centred aging superstar off the starboard bow!
29. South Korea (home)
A shame we’ve lost the old friendly South Korea emblem tiger. He looked polite, as if he’d actually rung ahead to book for his tea rather than just rocking up on that poor family’s doorstep. New fella still cuter than most football badge animals but wants answers about why the usual blue or white accent colours have been ditched for black and a grimmer shade of red than usual. Hope he’s getting image rights payments for use of his stripes on the shoulders.
28. Australia (home)
Not feeling the patterning but the shades of yellow and green feel right, the white socks are a wise contrast and it’s nice that Norwich fans will be able to squint at football matches taking place this November and pretend it’s their lot, given they will be similarly pedestrian to watch. NB the promotional shot appears to indicate the Australians’ secret tactic: playing with four balls. Fifa must clamp down in the strongest way possible.
27. Tunisia (away)
Did not love the pattern on the home shirt and it’s even more prominent here. But something pushes happy buttons. Possibly the well-proportioned red trim, certainly the Kappa siblings hanging out on the shorts. Lovely that they’ve joined us for the tournament, such a pity they can’t stay for a bit longer.
26. Portugal (away)
A good shirt, a middling kit. Bar across the middle looks like loading progress for a software update. Obviously it’s a nod to the flag, but I’m sure the green is further along on there. The flag has reached “oh this will be done soon,” rather than this shirt's “I’m going to go and make myself a coffee.” Either way it’s somehow taking 16 more minutes. A watched software update never boils.
25. USA (home)
Coming this holiday season from the MCU, Captain America: Group Stage Homecoming - ASSEMBLE!
24. Costa Rica (away)
And here’s that mostly-white with red and blue superheroic idea done better by New Balance for Costa Rica. Even the letter-based emblem is cooler.
23. Brazil (away)
Our old frenemy Johnny Jaguarpattern makes an unwelcome return on the sleeves but this comes together in a way the home kit does not. As garish as a TGI Fridays cocktail, without the sugar comedown.
22. France (away)
Shirt will surely have its fans but does look like a plate from a jumped-up suburban restaurant. Setting aside its drawings of the very best that France can offer (Arc de Triomphe, Clairefontaine, the second Christine and the Queens album) we could even be looking at the Willow pattern. As such it needs some Singapore Noodle residue and Sweet and Sour Chicken (Hong Kong Style) remnants to make sense. Wonderful shorts though, with impudent flag linking the back and front.
21. England (home)
Not popular but, surely, in the context of lots of fairly middling kits, slightly better than average? Obvious Euro 96 influence is obvious. You may not like it now but it’s going to look a whole lot better when FOOTBALL COMES HOME in a few weeks. You heard it here first!
20. Australia (away)
Novel. Unusual colours for a World Cup, tough to place the palette precisely, but it doesn’t scream knockout festive football festival, played in the desert. Who knows, maybe it does? We have little precedent. Flayed serviette detail around the neck on plenty of the Nike kits but is a fun flourish here. Colour me intrigued.
19. Mexico (home)
Opinions differ on the specifics about the inspiration for this pattern. We can all agree the responsible Aztec deity is Quetzalcoatl, “the Feathered Serpent.” who by one account online is “considered to be the god of life and creator of the world and humanity.”
Elsewhere he has a significant downgrade and is called “god of wind, patron of priests, and inventor of calendars and books.” Say what you like about Quetzalcoatl, he knows his way around a decent sublimation pattern.
Really we all know he is the god of getting out of the group but losing in the Round of 16. Looks like those red and green socks are both potential options although the red is OBVIOUSLY the only sensible choice. There will be questions asked if anyone attempts to play wearing just ankle socks, like our friend on the left.
18. Switzerland (home)
V-neck and fading pinstripes a happy echo of the 80s, and a more subtle one than usually found in the bludgeoning world of retro kit fetishism. Remember Switzerland in the 80s? No, they probably don’t either. They qualified for a grand total of zero World Cups or European Championships.
17. Netherlands (away)
A polite nod to the Dutch away shirt of 2000, which was worn in one group stage match and fulfilled the prophecy of Jarvis Cocker: “Let’s all meet up at Euro 2000 / Won’t it be strange when we beat Denmark 3-0?" Not an acknowledged vintage era for kits, it must be said, but little wrong with this.
16. Wales (away)
Festive tiger pattern on the collar is a firm no, but it looks more pleasant down the sides of the shirt like so:
Red shorts a wise decision. Stately. Tasty.
15. Japan (away)
Love that shoulder/sock pattern which could be the cover art of a difficult minimal techno album you spent half a term trying to like at university. Elevates what is quite a run-of-the-mill white and black kit with something far more jolly, although Surly-san from the promo pics didn’t get the memo.
14. Costa Rica (home)
There is not nearly enough New Balance at this or most other international football tournaments. It is a company which rarely makes a mess but always includes a well-judged detail to elevate respectful football kit ideas a crucial half-smidge. Here it’s a small but confident sleeve stripe, nicely echoed on the shorts:
13. Denmark (home)
As featureless as the away set but the mildly diverting pattern on the sides makes a big impact in the context and there’s no denying it hangs together very elegantly on Mikkel Damsgaard. NB - this does not mean you should attempt this look at five-a-side, which would be wishful thinking akin to every man shaving his head who thinks he’s going to look like Bruce Willis.
12. France (home)
Classy, sensual colour combinations. Grown up, knows its way around a wine list. Charming but featureless and ultimately fails to leave much of an impression. The romantic interest your daughter brings home from university during reading week whose name you can’t remember five years later. But you can’t fault the clothes.
11. Belgium (away)
Much more like it from Adidas for Belgium away after the flaming wreckage of their home shirt. Yes, all white, but get a load of those lovely summery ice cream colours. It’s enough to make you temporarily forget it’s November and that due to war and fluctuations in the price of nitrous oxide a 99 flake now costs £47.50. Boosted significantly by the fun they’ve had on the back:
More of this sort of thing!
10. Spain (home)
At the intersection of tasteful and dull but let’s face it, if you were starting an international football team from scratch you would probably give them Spain’s delicious combination of colours. Lush Tempranillo red, soulful navy, a dash of fading autumn sunshine. Phwoar.
9. Wales (home)
Another beneficiary of the cleaned-up Adidas logo (it has generously removed its name) and sublimation patterns done right, i.e. like what used to happen when television stations went off air in the middle of the night. Be interesting to see if shirts 30 years from now are throwing back to current day with sublimation patterns inspired by teleshopping and adverts for saucy chat lines.
8. Saudi Arabia (away)
You think verdant countryside, lush forests, sultry jungles you think (check notes) Saudi Arabia? Apparently so. Their best contribution to a World Cup since the Said Al Owairan goal in 1994.
7. Ecuador (away)
I’ve had to slope around the outer reaches of the Ecuardorian website of Marathon to find these shorts, like some desperate addict searching for his fix. Don’t ever tell me that putting 64 kits in order isn’t proper journalism.
Riotous shirt shows Mexico don’t have a monopoly on Aztec-adjacent patterns. On the rear, just below the collar we have a nice nod to Ecuador’s status at The Centre Of The World. Not even ironically, there is a spot outside Quito which is at exactly 0 degrees latitude, 0 minutes, 0 seconds.
Excellent. Two hundred bonus points for getting niche geographical facts onto a football shirt.
6. Argentina (home)
Quite hard to get wrong if you stick to the basics: pale blue and white stripes, black shorts, white socks, prompts nagging sense of unease among England fans born in the 1970s. We are reaching Premier League Stoke levels of repetitiveness with Argentina’s shirt design at World Cups, if shots are played with their kits they are confined to Copa America years.
The invention this year is on the other side with a flag riff on the central stripe, making this the mullet of 2022 World Cup shirts, business in the front, party in the back:
5. Ecuador (home)
In a surprise to no one that has been paying attention to these kit rankings for the past several years: I love this. Aggressive yellow, majestic navy, bit of red for fun. Yes to all. They’ve out Colombia-d Colombia! The best tourism advert for the country since this, 25 years ago:
4. Croatia (home)
After seeming to run out of ideas given this kits’ unique restriction, Croatia and Nike serve us degraded chessboard, squares falling away from eachother as if repelled by a powerful magnet housed in the centre of Luca Modric’s chest. Maybe that’s the secret to his success? He looks worried here though, trapped on a tricky hole of Mario Golf folding in on itself in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster smash Inception.
The odd sock, only one has checks, is a fun touch, and it will be thrilling when one player puts it on the wrong foot at some point during the tournament. You’ve got to take your fun where you can get it at Qatar 2022.
3. England (away)
Obvious World Cup 90 influence is obvious. Squarely in the category of cheeky riff on old classic rather than Butlins tribute act. There is some particularly enjoyable patterning on the collar, which initially looks like a straight rip of the classic Umbro original, but has been given a twist. It now looks like a piano after a careless removal firm have got involved.
2. South Korea (away)
Now we’re talking. A bold splash of primary colours like the easel remnants of your best ever day of painting. Reminds me slightly of that Oban fireworks display in 2011 when a half hour display went off in a minute:
Enormous fun, and praise the lord (and while you’re doing so, ask politely for Son Heung-min to be fit) it’s patterned on the back too:
1. Japan (home)
Uncharitably, you are looking at pure kithead fan service with that shirt pattern. It is geometric, slightly unhinged and different from shirt to shirt , so ticking a lot of vogueish boxes. But seen together with neat shorts and rowdy socks this is almost overwhelmingly good. The anime promo shots help its case even more:
Wonderful. Merry Christmas World Cup, one and all