Adidas withdraws controversial number

Adidas remove 44 shirt from sale

No 44 removed from sale. Credit: Adidas/robidoesntcare/X

Sports clothes manufacturer Adidas has made the decision to withdraw a particular numbered shirt from  Germany’s national side.

The decision was announced on Monday, April 1, when Adidas, the German sports clothing giant, decided to remove and block the sale of the German national football team’s shirt bearing the number 44 on their online store.

The move came after the design, earmarked for EURO 2024, sparked an uproar over its perceived resemblance to the Nazi ‘SS’ symbol, a principal organization under Hitler’s regime responsible for many of the atrocities of the Second World War.

The decision underscores Adidas’ commitment to inclusivity and its firm stance against any form of hate.

Unintended resemblance

Adidas reacted swiftly to feedback from the public and various communities online. The specific style of the numeral ‘four’, especially when doubled to ’44’, bore an uncomfortable similarity to the insignia used by the Nazi SS units, entities infamous for their roles in operating concentration and death camps.

Oliver Bruggen, a spokesperson for Adidas, made it clear that the resemblance was completely unintended, reinforcing the company’s dedication to fighting ‘xenophobia, anti-Semitism, violence and hatred in every form’.

Collaboration and review

The German Football Federation (DFB) alongside Adidas, took the criticisms seriously, despite none of the parties involved recognising the controversial similarity during the design process.

A statement from the DFB highlighted their routine process of reviewing numbers from 0-9 and submitting 1-26 to UEFA for approval, admitting that the similarity was overlooked.

As reported by Goal the DFB confirmed: ‘Nevertheless, we take the information very seriously and do not want to provide a platform for discussions. Together with our partner 11teamsports, we will develop an alternative design for the number 4 and coordinate it with UEFA,’

This episode serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of historical sensitivity in design, especially in a global context.

Adidas, with employees from around a hundred nations, emphasises its ethos of diversity and inclusion. The incident reaffirms their stance against any divisive or exclusive ideologies.

Moving forward, Adidas and the DFB are committed to revising the design, ensuring that their values of unity and respect are clearly represented in their products.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.