The most fanatical sports followers will go to the ends of the Earth to support their team or club. Travelling to away games, neglecting the kids and spouse for the day, buying expensive cable and satellite packages only to spend your weekend yelling at the television – these are just a few of the ways we support our favorite sports and teams. At a minimum, even the more reserved fans still know when and where their team(s) are playing and try to build their schedule around game-time. When that time comes, even if we have to watch the big game at home on tv, we still don our replica jerseys as if we were soldiers putting on our uniforms in preparation for battle.
Jerseys are, perhaps, the simplest and most common way of showing one’s support for a team. Yet, the team colors are more than just that. For many people, the jersey is a sacred shirt, proof of membership into a fraternity, clan or tribe. When you see someone else wearing the same jersey, at a minimum, you get a nod of approval – even if the team is has gone 0-8 recently or failed to make the playoffs for the tenth year in a row. It’s no surprise, therefore, that every year millions of jerseys are sold to supporters of various teams in a variety of leagues around the world. It’s a big business and an integral part to being a fan.
With all the different jerseys created for all the different sports, there are an array of fantastic designs and color schemes. That said, there have been some absolutely dreadful shirt designs in the world of sport. This particular list looks at soccer and some of the more forgettable creations that teams have been forced to wear – and fans forced to watch. Some of these jerseys test the loyalty of fans to the extreme. Ahead, you’ll find all sorts of eye-burning designs and color choices to make you wince. To make matters more interesting – and largely inspired by Manchester United’s new and terrible Chevrolet jersey- we’ve included some shirts which are generally fine but ruined by a comical or bizarre sponsorship deal. It’ll all have you thinking ‘What were they thinking?’ We here at TheSportster could heave easily done a top 50 of bad soccer jerseys but, to be honest, after seeing these 25 you’ll be glad we didn’t.
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26 Dishonorable Mention: 2003-05, Atletico Madrid – Columbia Pictures
Back in the early 2000s, fans of Spanish side Atletico Madrid probably didn’t think signing a sponsorship deal with movie giant Columbia pictures was a bad thing. After all, the company had a globally recognized brand and a lot of money which they potentially could give to the football club. Then Atletico’s fans saw what Columbia had in store for their team. For two years a stream of jerseys were released which advertised upcoming releases from the movie producer. From Spider-Man to XXX to Hellboy, the club’s jersey took a beating with each new design that was added.
25 25. 1994-96, Chelsea – Away kit
The early 1990s were a very bad time for soccer kit design. The fashion sense and color choices of the 1980s spilled over into jersey design and a lot of teams paid for it. This mid-90s Chelsea away shirt looks like something a kid would create for their fantasy team kit. The grey, itself isn’t bad but then they had to go and add orange and some sort of pattern up around the neck. The two seasons Chelsea wore this they finished 11th. While their next kit (1996-97) was another monstrosity, it at least incorporated team colors – plus, they finished 6th that year.
24 1995-96, Manchester United – Away kit
Staying in the Premier League, we find further proof the 90s were a bad time for footballers. This particular United outfit is often referred to as the ‘invisible kit’ because players reportedly complained it made teammates difficult to see around the pitch. Looking at it now, it’s not so much difficult to see as it is difficult to look at. It is, perhaps, one of the most un-Manchester United jerseys I have ever seen and is far worse than that horrid ‘table-cloth’ home kit from a few years ago.
23 1995-2002, AS Roma – INA Assitalia
There is nothing really funny about the design of this particular Roma jersey. It has the distinctive red and orange we have come to know from the Serie A club. That said, the sponsorship is a bit unfortunate if you speak English and have the mind of a 13 year old. INA Assitalia is an insurance company and there is nothing funny about that. However, some of you, after reading the name out loud, may see the juvenile humor in having this printed across the front of your shirt. Immature? Yes. The last time you’ll see that here? No.
22 1985-89, Oxford United – Wang Laboratories
We told you so. This one is pretty self-explanatory. From 1985 to 1989, English club Oxford United secured the sponsorship of computer-maker Wang. Their jerseys were pretty plain and didn’t really stand out, except for ‘Wang’ printed across the front. Oxford enjoyed their best ever results with Wang on their shirt, playing a few seasons in England’s top division. It makes you wonder what opposition players thought when they lined up against the Wang-sponsored club. Surely it affected the Arsenal players who, on the last day of the 1985-86 season, fell to Oxford and ensured this beauty of a jersey stayed in the top-tier for a few more seasons.
21 21. 1998-99, VfL Bochum – Away kit
The comical shirt design outbreak which had swept through England in the early and mid-1990s looks to have moved on to the rest of Europe by the late 90s. At the end of the decade, German club Bochum came out with a rather terrible design. In what can only be considered the mullet of jersey designs, Bochum’s shirt was half plain blue or white (depending if it was home or away) and half rainbow colored. It’s like two separate people were tasked with each designing half a shirt. One person clearly had no clue what to do and the other ripped off the core theme of Benetton’s ad campaign of the 90s.
20 1995-96, Barcelona – Away kit
When you think of Barcelona, you think of their historic and traditional blue and red-stripped home kit. It’s classic and simple. Then there’s some of their away and third kits. We could have brought up that jersey that fades from orange to yellow, but then we found this one. It looks like some sort of modern art ‘master-piece’ where everyone stares at it and pretends to know what it means. All we see are a bunch of uneven shapes and dozens of Kappa logos and ‘Barca’ prints all over this eyesore.
19 2004-08, 1. FC Nurnberg – Mister Lady
While your eyes readjust from the beating they took from the Barcelona jersey, take in this FC Nurnberg beauty from 2004 to 2008. Now, we know that fans of other sports often poke fun at soccer players for going down easy, rolling around too much and acting a bit too light-weight. FC Nurnberg’s jersey takes that feeling and puts it into words. Mister Lady may be an actual teenage clothing line but most who see this jersey won’t care. How hard must it have been for Nurnberg to intimidate and try to get other teams to take them seriously with this printed across their chest?
18 1989, Liverpool – Home kit
Even before the 90s hit, there were early indications that terrible jersey designs were on the horizon. Although I know a few Liverpool fans who hated having Candy as their sponsor, what they and most of us agree upon is that the design of this home kit is the real problem. Football fans are used to seeing the Merseyside club in red with no strange designs added. We find it more than a coincidence that with the 1980s known for cocaine use, this jersey looks like it has just come through a party at Rick James’ house. The name ‘Candy’ just adds that little bit extra.
17 1981-82, AC Milan – Pooh Jeans
We’re not going to lie – there was a lot of giggling while this entry was researched and typed in. AC Milan are one of the giants of World Football and a traditional force in Italy’s Serie A. However, it wasn’t always that way. It is fitting the Rossoneri had this sponsor for the 1981-82 season as it really did sum up the quality of their play. With ‘Pooh’ emblazoned across their chests, Milan couldn’t find goals and were relegated to Serie B on the final day of the season.
16 1989-91, Olympique Lyonnais – Le69
For two seasons, French club Lyon had this eye-raising print across the front of their jerseys. Not content with accepting it as straightforward as this, we searched what ‘Le69’ was. That was a big mistake. After trying to forget some of the shocking things Google brought up (and deleting our internet search history), it turns out there isn’t anything perverse about it. The number refers to the area or regional code of Rhone, where Lyon is located. That said, people still snickered when they saw this out and about.
15 1990-92, Manchester United – Away kit
Yet another terrible 90s jersey from the Premier League. Legend has it that if you stare at this jersey long enough you’ll see Ryan Giggs staring back at you. In all seriousness, after the motion sickness stops from looking at this, United’s two seasons in this away kit were mixed. In addition to a couple cups, the 1990-92 period saw the Red Devils finish 6th but improve to 2nd the next season. The number of away wins also jumped significantly by the second season and we bet it’s because they learned to stop looking directly at the mesmerizing design.
14 1992-95, Hull City – Home kit
British side Hull City carry the nickname ‘The Tigers.’ Traditionally, club colors for the jersey have been black and orange and used in vertical stripes. Jersey manufacturer Pelada decided to take things to next level. As a result, for most of the early 90s, Hull played out their home matches in jerseys which were literal tiger print. Early on, the design was a ‘standard’ Bengal tiger design. By the last couple years, the design was totally out of control with a mix of tiger stripes and leopard spots. Not popular with fans, we have a feeling it may have been a hit with the older single ladies.
13 1991, Arsenal – Away kit
You can always count on Arsenal to produce some away jerseys which leave you wondering ‘why?’ However, in 1991, the away design for the Gunners went in a very acid-trip inspired direction. Given Adidas also designed Manchester United’s away jersey during this time, it leaves us wondering if there was an undocumented gas leak in or near the Adidas plant during the early 90s. That said, this jersey is so terrible that it is actually a popular collector’s item now.
12 1989, Ajax – Away kit
Dutch side Ajax are one of the greatest and historic teams in Europe. We all know they dominated Europe through the 1970s and now struggle to keep up with new giants of Europe. We also know that Ajax traditionally have very plain home and away kits. This is what makes the 1989 Ajax away jersey stand out so much. First, it would look more at home as the jersey for the Croatian national team. Second, the Umbro designed shirt looks more 1970s than late 1980s. Altogether, it’s so bad a lot of fans really liked it and still search for one today.
11 2013-14, Liverpool – Third kit
For the 2013-14 Liverpool kit we could have picked the away jersey – it’s pretty terrible. Nonetheless, the away kit at least contains team colors which is more than we can say about this Frankenstein-like creation. Did someone at Warrior actually get paid to design the third jersey? Black, purple, white and grey – all arranged in some bizarre fashion make this thing look like it belongs on an NHL expansion team of the 90s and not a soccer team. It’s not good and desperately needs a modified DeLorean so it can go back to 1992 to be with its brothers and sisters.
10 1991-92, Huddersfield Town – Away kit
Speaking of the early 90s again, do you remember tie-dye? Most people do and understand it has its place and time to be worn. The 1960s, school-kids in the early 90s and at any Grateful Dead concert – this is where you traditionally found the clothes with this style of print. Fans generally agreed that one place unfit for tie-dye was the football pitch. The point was made abundantly clear when English team Huddersfield Town took to pitch in this gem for the 1991-92 season. It lasted only one season and we shall never speak of it again.
9 1993-94, Huddersfield Town – Goalkeeper
This list is supposed to be just for team jerseys of the outfield players, not goalkeepers. Considering what we all just witnessed at #10, it needs to be seen what Huddersfield put their poor keeper in just a year later. Before we leave you to take in this beauty, you should know you’ll appreciate this jersey more if you play MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t Touch This’ while looking at it.
8 2004, Athletic Bilbao – Centenary kit
This La Liga club traditionally has a very straightforward white and red striped jersey. For the club’s 2004 Centenary, artist Dario Urzay designed the jersey. It was initially envisioned that the player’s shirts would look like they were covered in blood splatters. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you view blood splatters on shirts) the design made the jerseys look like the team had been involved in some sort of ketchup or jam accident.
7 1989-90, Brighton and Hove Albion – Away kit
From far away, this jersey looks like it’s red or pink. Get closer and you notice it’s a real treat for the eyes. This English club’s jersey is made up of many tightly packed twisting red-pink lines. In all honesty, the somewhat jagged lines make it seem like the shirt was printed on one of those old dot-matrix printers. Who doesn’t love a shirt with a pattern that looks like it’s moving when it is, in fact, sitting still. Turns out the fans of Brighton and Albion Hoves didn’t like it too much at all.
6 1992, Fiorentina – Away kit
Do you see it? No, this Serie A club’s away jersey is not on the list because of the sponsorship or the color. Look closely and pay attention to the pattern. If you still don’t see it, look at the shoulders and think of banned political organizations or the bad-guys in World War 2. There it is. You’d think one of the criteria when designing a modern soccer jersey is that you can’t use a swastika anywhere in the design. Clearly jersey manufacturer Lotto missed that memo.
5 1978, Coventry City – Away kit
The 1970s were the time of disco. Big hair, big collars, tight-fitting clothes – these were all part of the Disco culture. Unfortunately for the players of Coventry City, their kit looked more at home at a Bee-Gees concert than on the pitch. Firstly, the entire outfit was brown. Once you can get past the color, you’ll notice the big collar and stripes which match up with the shorts. It’s just all so terrible that is deserves a place on any list about bad jerseys/kits. In addition, did we mention that it’s brown?
4 1994, Scunthorpe United – Away kit
When you were looking at the Huddersfield Town keeper jersey at #9, was there any part of you that thought it was awesome and that every player should wear it? If so, you may have been the person who designed the horror-show that Scunthorpe United wore in 1994. It’s fitting that the sponsor of the team was Pleasure Island, as this looks like the kind of shirt you would be expected to wear when heading to any tropical destination.
3 2010, TSV 1860 Munchen – 150th Anniversary kit
If a picture says a thousand words, what does a thousand pictures say? While some of you work on the math, the rest of us can take in this masterpiece worn by German team TSV 1860 Munchen. Someone thought it would be a good idea to turn the club’s jersey into a scrapbook containing the images of important people and events. From far away, it looks like some sort of modern day urban camo print. Get up close and there is a lot going on. We are also pretty sure Waldo is hiding somewhere in there.
2 2013, La Hoya Lorca – Away kit
Spanish side La Hoya Lorca wanted something that symbolized the region they came from. Rather than integrate colors linked to their home region, as, for instance, Barcelona have done, the team went one step further. The team is based in Murcia, a region known for its produce. So, it made sense that the club kit should be vegetable themed. The result is a jersey which has a close up photo-print of broccoli on it. A great choice as it not only represents the region but reminds players that broccoli is an important source of nutrients for athletes.
1 1978, Colorado Caribous – Home and Away kit
This team doesn’t even exist anymore. That doesn’t matter. The Colorado Caribous played just one season in the now-defunct North American Soccer League in 1978. If you can get past the fact that there are no caribou in Colorado, you’ll see that these uniforms were the most hideous creation ever. The colors alone are terrible with tan, brown, black and white coming together to create a most unappealing jersey. That’s not where it ends, however. The cherry on the sundae here is the leather fringe running around the middle of the jersey. In just the wrong light, the fringe, with the tan lower half, makes it look like the players were wearing some sort of stripper-belly shirt of the disco era. Home and Away are equally terrible and we can’t believe people actually wore these during a game.
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