Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Bad Gamble

I'm disturbed by a recent trend that's been occurring in football, mostly in Europe. That is the trend of gambling websites sponsoring teams on their shirts. Some prime examples have been Sevilla, Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, and my beloved AC Milan (Werder has since switched to Citibank as its sponsor). While I personally don't have anything against gambling per se, I believe it is a mistake for sports leagues and clubs to align themselves so closely and overtly to big-time gambling interests.

I come from the U.S. where gambling on sports is illegal in most places but there is never a problem if you want to place any type of bet. I will admit our sports leagues take a very hypocritical stance on gambling. They try to act like they are against it while encouraging and even catering to it. But I almost think that is the best approach. When you so closely embrace gambling on sports by letting gambling businesses advertise with you, you are essentially endorsing it. And if it is legal as it appears to be in Europe, then logically those folks that might have been discouraged by the illegality of it(yes, there are actually people like that) will now not have that concern. Gambling on sports will become exponentially more rampant. The main problems with that are 1. that the unfortunate truth is gambling is a serious problem for a lot of people that ends up ruining a lot of lives, and 2. gambling has called into question the integrity of many sports throughout the world at different times throughout history. Football may be gambling's biggest victim. And no club has been involved in more scandal than AC Milan, who had to endure a match fixing scandal in 79/80's as well as in 2006/07. Match fixing happens because of gambling. So why the club would now have bwin as their sponsor is just baffling to me. Milan along with Real Madrid are supposed to be two of the classiest operations in world football, yet are accepting advertising on their sacred shirts from an industry that at best is a human vice and at worst undermines the integrity of the game. It leaves me scratching my head.

I guess this is something that is here to stay, but I just wanted to put my two cents in. I want to keep the social commentary to a minimum here, but at the same time this issue cuts to the heart of the games we love so much. Hopefully this trend won't become too wide spread.

Monday, November 26, 2007

You Could Set Your Calendar to This...

It is that time in the football kit cycle, when just before a major competition (in this case, Euro 2008), national sides introduce their new kits that they will wear for the next couple of years. There have been a whole slew of new national team shirts that have been released over the past few weeks. Many of them debuted during the last round of Euro qualifiers. Here are some of the highlights:

Adidas released new shirts for Germany and France, and I have to say both of them are quite nice. Looks like someone at Adidas was listening when we told them to ditch the boring templates. I especially like how the main design accents on the shirts reflect the respective cultures. The German design is rigid, with a lot of straight lines and seems to evoke the concept of moving forward together. Meanwhile, the French design is more artsy and the design seems to be splitting off in different directions. Sounds like France to me. Adidas also released a new shirt for Argentina, which is pretty basic and classic. Argentina almost always has a boss shirt.

Puma also released a bunch of new away shirts, for Austria, Czech, and others. Sad to see that Puma have adopted the former strategy of their German brethren Adidas with that template. It's pretty boring and lazy if you ask me. One exception is Italy's new away shirt, which I dig, except for that whacked–out font(you can't really tell from the photo, but trust me, it sucks–especially the lettering).

Nike also released some shirts, notably Brazil's new home and Holland's new away. Brazil's new shirt doesn't really do anything for me, but that new Holland away is really nice. It was always going to be tough to duplicate the success of Holland's previous away shirt, which was absolutely gorgeous. But Nike have done a pretty good job here.

All in all, it is a pretty successful period of kit releases as there was nothing absolutely horrible released, and we are heartened by Adidas' apparent ditching of the templates. Bravo.

footballkitblogupdate: looks like despite coach Hugo Sanchez's rantings about changing Mexico's home shirt from green to white, el tri will still be decked in green most of the time. They just released the new home shirt, and it is green. I wonder what that will do to Hugo's ego.