Adidas bans number 44 on Germany football shirts over Nazi symbolism concerns

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Adidas, in conjunction with the German football federation, has made the decision to ban the use of the number 44 on football shirts due to concerns that it resembles the symbol used by World War Two-era Nazi SS units. The move comes after historian Michael König raised concerns about the design, calling it “very questionable” from a historical perspective.

The German Football Association (DFB) has halted the delivery of shirts with the number 44 ordered through its online platform and is working with its partner, 11teamsports, to find an alternative design for the number 4. The designs in question were submitted to the Uefa Champions League during the jersey design process.

Adidas spokesperson Oliver Bruggen emphasized that the resemblance was not intentional and that both the federation and 11teamsports were jointly responsible for the design of the names and numbers on the shirts. Bruggen also highlighted Adidas’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, stating that the company actively campaigns against xenophobia, antisemitism, violence, and hatred in all forms.

The release of the new kits had already sparked debate in Germany over the choice of pink away shirts, which were purported to celebrate the diversity of the country. The stylized, slanted SS symbol remains banned in Germany, as it was emblematic of some of the most egregious atrocities committed by the Nazis. Members of the SS were responsible for overseeing concentration camps, interrogating suspected traitors, and operating extermination camps like Auschwitz, where over a million individuals were killed.

This decision comes as Germany prepares to host the European Championship from 14 June to 14 July, highlighting the sensitivity surrounding historical symbols and their use in contemporary contexts.

(Source: The Guardian | BBC | The Independent)

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