Germany will redesign the numbers on the soccer team’s shirts amid controversy over its association with a Nazi symbol

Germany will redesign the numbers on the soccer team’s shirts amid controversy over its association with a Nazi symbol
Germany will redesign the numbers on the soccer team’s shirts amid controversy over its association with a Nazi symbol

(CNN) — German soccer authorities will redesign the number “4” on the country’s national team jerseys amid complaints that it resembles a logo used by Nazi paramilitary units.

The German Football Federation (DFB) made the Monday after social media users began using an online jersey customization service to create jerseys with the number “44,” noting the similarity to the Schutzstaffel, or SS, logo.

In a statement published on “. The association said it was taking the matter “very seriously” and was developing “an alternative design” for the number.

Although 44 is not currently used by the German men’s or women’s national teams, official uniform supplier Adidas allowed customers to personalize the jerseys with a number, from 00 to 99, and a name of up to 10 letters. The resulting images generated by the Adidas online store were widely spread on the Internet.

According to Reuters, Adidas spokesperson Oliver Bruggen previously told German media that the sportswear giant would “block the number 44 as soon as possible,” adding: “As a company we actively oppose xenophobia, anti-Semitism, violence and hatred in any of its forms”.

By Tuesday, the option to customize German national team jerseys had been removed from Adidas websites, although it remains in place for other nations’ uniforms. Adidas did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on its decision or whether the customization service will return without the number 4.

At the end of March, the DFB presented the new Germany uniforms, which both the men’s and women’s teams will wear. The men’s team debuted the shirts during a match against France, and they will be used at Euro 2024, which Germany will host this summer.

Less than two weeks ago, the DFB announced that Nike will replace Adidas as the official jersey supplier of the German national soccer team starting in 2027. Adidas has produced the country’s jerseys since the 1950s, during which period the men’s national team (either as Germany or West Germany) has won four World Cups.

Adidas’ decision to block customization of the jerseys comes after many on social media pointed out the numbers’ resemblance to the controversial SS insignia.

The SS was founded by Adolf Hitler and was described as the “political soldiers” of the Nazi Party.

They took on various police, security and military functions, including supervising the Gestapo. When the Nazis came to power, they had grown from a small unit of less than 300 people to an organization of more than 50,000. They were later associated with some of the worst crimes committed by the Nazis during World War II, including the management of concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

The group’s lightning bolt logo was designed by German graphic designer Walter Heck, who later joined the SS after serving as commander of the Nazi paramilitary wing, the Sturmabteilung (SA).

Like many Nazi symbols, the Heck logo was not based on ancient runes (as Hitler often mythologized), but on a pseudorune created by Austrian occultist Guido von List in the early 20th century. The logo was so widely used at the time that some German typewriters were made with a stylized “SS” key.

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