Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Crusaders of Milan?

I don't really know what to say about this story. Apparently a lawyer in Turkey has decided to sue Italian giants Inter Milan for "offending Muslim sensibilities" with their current centenary shirt. The lawyer argues that the red cross on the shirt is a symbol of the Crusades and the "bloody days of the past." Never mind that a red cross on a white background has been the city of Milan's symbol for hundreds of years. I wonder also what that lawyer would think of this or this. I just hope that this story doesn't blow out of proportion and we have some crazy s*** happen like what happened with those cartoons.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How to Buy and Care for a Football/Soccer Shirt

I am not only a connoisseur/admirer of football shirts, I am also a bit of a collector and a wearer of them. Over the years I have had a lot of experience with these shirts and how to care for them. There are some small, easy steps you can take to assure the longevity of your shirts. They are, after all, quite expensive nowadays, quite delicate, and I have never been one to buy my favorite club's shirt with every new edition that comes out. One caveat: here I am talking about shirts that where made post 1987. I really can't tell you much about shirts that where made before then, because as I understand the history of football shirts, different fabrics where being used before then. Furthermore, my attorneys have advised me to add this disclaimer: any information in this post is for entertainment purposes only. The footballkitblog is not responsible for any damage that may be done to your shirts from following this advice. So without further delay, here is a look into my treasure trove of knowledge:

1. You need to start taking care of your shirt before you even take it out of the store. I've been to the club shops of a couple of big clubs, including AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Real Mallorca, Paris St. Germain, Marseille, and Ajax Amsterdam. I've also gone to a lot of other sports stores throughout Europe. These shops are an absolute dream for someone like me who is from the States and digs football. Aside from having all the gear they can also customize your shirt with any name/number you choose, and they do it right in front of you. Here's where you have to be careful. If you choose to buy a shirt and then have it printed, you have to make sure that it does not get folded too quickly afterward. The heat press that puts the name & number on the shirt makes the material they are made of very soft and malleable. If you fold the shirt while the numbers are too hot and let it cool folded, the name and numbers will always have big creases in them which you will never be able to do away with. It will even affect the way the shirt hangs on your back. The workers at these stores (if they are knowledgeable) will tell you that about 5 minutes is enough, but I say give it at least 10–15 minutes. I know you don't want to look like a jerk holding up your shirt in the middle of the store for 15 minutes, but this is really critical. If you can, try to find a place to lay the shirt on its front for that amount of time. If you are going to be walking around with the shirt for an extended period of time, try to fold it so that the number is not folded.

The few times that I've ordered printed shirts on the web, I haven't had any trouble with the numbers being creased. I suppose it all depends what online store you use.

2. This one may sound obvious, but don't get your shirt too dirty. These shirts can get discolored and damaged very easily, and you will enjoy them longer the less that happens. Don't smoke with one on if you can avoid it. Aside from the smell, one tiny cinder can make a hole in a football shirt a lot faster than on a cotton shirt. If you go to the movies and order some popcorn, take the shirt off and fold it, and put it underneath or behind you (for the sake of your fellow moviegoers, don't do this unless you have an undershirt). Popcorn is greasy and in a dark theatre kernels can easily slip out of your hand onto the shirt. Presto–you now have a permanent grease stain. These grease stains seem to be a lot more visible for some reason on football shirts.

3. How you launder your shirt is the single most important thing you can do to maintain the long life of your shirt. No matter what the color, ALWAYS wash your shirts in cold water, and if you can, use the washing machine's delicate setting (not absolutely necessary). Hand washing is even better, but I know that if you are on the web, then you probably have access to a washing machine. Try to use liquid detergent. Powdered detergent leaves a residue sometimes. For the love of God, NEVER, NEVER use any type of fabric softener when washing your football shirts. Fabric softener makes them permanently wrinkled. No matter what you do, you will never really be able to fix it. Also, NEVER, EVER put your football shirts in a dryer. For best results, you have to take the shirt out of the wash IMMEDIATELY after the machine's washing cycle has stopped. If you let the shirt sit in the wash for a while, or if you machine–dry it, it will also become permanently wrinkled (although not as bad as if you use softener). After taking the shirt out of the wash, dry it completely on a hanger or by laying it flat on something before folding it. Don't iron your shirts. If you want to try it, use a cold iron, but I have found that this is pretty useless.

4. Don't wear a back–pack/ruksack on top of you football shirt. The constant rubbing of the shirt in between your back and the sack is abrasive on these delicate shirts. This causes those tiny little bubbles that will appear on football shirts over time. Also, try to avoid wearing anything with velcro© as it sometimes catches on the shirt and causes ugly snags.

5. Lastly, don't buy football shirts on ebay unless you are prepared for the shirt to be a fake. My experience has been that 90% of football shirts (especially recent releases) sold on ebay are fakes, no matter where the seller is from. If you are dead–set on buying one there, make sure the seller tells you it is 100% authentic. Ask questions and be specific. For example, "Are you absolutely sure that this shirt is 100% authentic AC Milan Adidas replica?" Also, try to get the seller to guarantee your right to return the shirt if you think it's a fake. Fakes are getting so good nowadays right down to the tags, but there are always telltale signs. Mostly though, you can't tell a good fake from a real shirt unless you are comparing them side by side.

So there it is. I know this guide would have been useful to me when I first started buying football shirts 20 years ago. That's what the web is all about right, the sharing of information. Enjoy and good luck with your shirts.