To the unfamiliar, World Cup uniforms seem open to styling: different colors and patterns, brand names, and logos splashed in every possible square inch of fabric. But FIFA actually has incredibly strict guidelines for the uniforms, right down to the millimeter. Creative Review published a few excerpts of the 92-page document, and we’ve picked out six of the craziest.
All team sports have rules for player uniforms, and some of the rules can seem pretty silly. The NBA, for example, requires that no headbands be larger than two inches wide. The MLB dictates that no uniform have any pattern that resembles a baseball, for some reason. But none is as weird and specific as FIFA. Some of FIFA’s rules don’t even apply to player uniforms, but to coaches and subs who aren’t playing.
Lest you think these are just guidelines, in 2006, FIFA fined the Cameroon team and even docked them points, hurting their chances in the tournament, for the egregious crime of . . . wearing a one-piece uniform. So you’d better obey these crazy specific rules!
1. Stroke Width
If you’re going to have super-strict restrictions, placing a limit on the size of players’ numbers doesn’t seem that crazy. But it gets more specific than that: the font in the numbers has to have a stroke width of between 3 millimeters and 5 millimeters. No numbers too thick or too thin allowed!
2. Non-Player Sweatsuits
It’s not just the players that have attire rules: coaching staff, subs, and others wearing sweatsuits are allowed to wear branded clothing, but: if there’s a logo at the back of the neck, it must be centered. If the sides of the sweatsuit have a logo (and I can’t imagine what that logo could be if not the three-stripe lines of Adidas), it can be no wider than 8 centimeters.
3. Maximum Color
FIFA decrees that uniforms can have a maximum of four colors, total, and that one of them must be a “dominant” color. And nothing reflective or color-changing.
4. These Are Your Logos
Unlike the sports more popular in the states, soccer is heavily branded. But in the World Cup, only certain logos are acceptable. Just because Nike sponsors a team doesn’t mean it can give whatever branding it wants to the uniforms, even if it obeys all those size and location rules. FIFA provides its own accepted logos for brands like Adidas, Umbro, and Puma.
5. Center Those Shoulder Logos
The World Cup is filmed from every possible angle, which means an opportunity for brands as well as an opportunity for FIFA to be, like, weirdly uptight about what those brands can do. Brands like to put logos on kits’ shoulders, to be captured by overhead shots. But those logos can’t be any more than 8 centimeters in width and must be centered and symmetrical when viewed from above.
6. Do Soccer Players Even Wear Hats?
I don’t watch soccer but from extensive confused Googling and consulting with people who do watch soccer, it does not seem like baseball cap-style hats are actually part of any uniform at all. So the fact that FIFA has placed specific limits on the size of logos on these hats–no more than 25cm²–is crazy! Why not make rules about the maximum volume of beer a fan is allowed to imbibe in each sip? Or the cuff circumference of jeans worn by a player’s father?