‘It was never our intention to offend’: Nike defends change to St George’s Cross on new England Kit

23 March 2024, 01:16

The FA has no intention of recalling the new England shirt
The FA has no intention of recalling the new England shirt. Picture: Social Media

By Jenny Medlicott

Nike has said it was not its ‘intention to offend’ after launching a controversial new England shirt featuring a multi-coloured St George's cross.

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The firm issued a statement saying the design had not been intended to offend “given what it means to England fans”.

It read: “We have been a proud partner of the FA since 2012 and understand the significance and importance of the St George's Cross and it was never our intention to offend, given what it means to England fans.

"Together with the FA, the intention was to celebrate the heroes of 1966 and their achievements.

"The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England's 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blues and reds topped with purple.

"The same colours also feature an interpretation of the flag on the back of the collar."

Pressure is growing on the highly-paid executives who signed off the 'abominable' changes to the St George's Cross to make a formal announcement on the shirt's future, as anger grows over the redesign of the normally red English symbol.

It also emerged on Friday that England bungled football shirt was designed 5,000 miles away by Nike executives in America, according to the MailOnline.

The FA defended the design on Friday, saying that it was "not the first time" that different coloured St George's Cross-inspired designs have appeared on England shirts.

"The new England 2024 home kit has a number of design elements which were meant as a tribute to the 1966 World Cup-winning team," a spokesperson said.

Read more: ‘Rainbow coloured abomination’: Fury over £125 England shirt with blue and purple St George’s Cross

Read more: 'Don’t mess with the St George’s Cross': Rishi Sunak speaks out amid fury over England kit

"The coloured trim on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England's 1966 heroes, and the same colours also feature on the design on the back of the collar.

"It is not the first time that different coloured St George's Cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts.

"We are very proud of the red and white St George's cross - the England flag.

"We understand what it means to our fans, and how it unites and inspires, and it will be displayed prominently at Wembley tomorrow - as it always is - when England play Brazil."

Rishi Sunak said that Nike "should not mess" with the St George's Cross, as he waded into the row.

Nike revealed it had altered the cross using purple and blue horizontal stripes in what it called a "playful update" to the shirt ahead of Euro 2024.

The US firm said the colours were inspired by the training kit worn by England's 1966 World Cup winners.

Harry Kane modelling the new kit
Harry Kane modelling the new kit. Picture: FA

Mr Sunak's comments echo those of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said the flag was a "unifier".

Speaking to reporters in Heanor, Derbyshire, the Prime Minister said: "Obviously I prefer the original, and my general view is that when it comes to our national flags, we shouldn't mess with them.

"Because they are a source of pride, identity, who we are, and they're perfect as they are."

Sir Keir went even further than the Prime Minister, calling for the sporting brand to "reconsider" the decision to modify it.

The controversial design on the back of the collar
The controversial design on the back of the collar. Picture: Social Media

He told The Sun: "I'm a big football fan, I go to England games, men and women's games, and the flag is used by everybody. It is a unifier. It doesn't need to be changed. We just need to be proud of it.

"So, I think they should just reconsider this and change it back. I'm not even sure they can properly explain why they thought they needed to change it in the first place."

A petition on Change.org calling for a design change had already attracted more than 21,000 signatures by noon on Friday.

Rishi Sunak has said that Nike "should not mess" with the St George&squot;s Cross
Rishi Sunak has said that Nike "should not mess" with the St George's Cross. Picture: Alamy

Some football pundits and fans have criticised the design and price of the shirt since it was launched earlier this week.

An "authentic" version costs £124.99 for adults and £119.99 for children while a "stadium" version is £84.99 and £64.99 for children.

Sir Keir also called on Nike to reduce the price.

Back in 2002, the price was £39.99 - if the price rose in line with inflation, it would cost £71.90 in 2024, over £50 less than the actual price this year.

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