The 2022 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, and while teams are naming their squads and final preparations are underway in Qatar, our thoughts are with equipment managers of all 32 participating teams. They’re packing up and shipping out a colorful collection of kits and training tops — meticulously mapped out years in advance by the likes of Adidas, Nike, Puma and more to shine brightest on the biggest stage in sports — that help make each edition of the tournament so memorable.
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Because the world won’t be able to take its eyes off this quadrennial competition for the next six weeks, it’s about time to dissect each and every one of the teams’ jerseys, so neutrals can build their viewing schedule around the most aesthetically pleasing contests — and we can all block off small windows of productivity when this tournament’s ugly ducklings go head-to-head. We have analyzed every home and away kit to be worn at this World Cup, and ranked them in the form of a bracket that mirrors the format of the tournament itself — from the group stage, through the knockout rounds and all the way to the final.
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Home: The hosts have taken a fairly ordinary, conservative approach to their home kit, but at least it’s executed cleanly. This jersey celebrates the flag of the host country, according to Nike, and its distinctive serrations can be seen in the cuffs.
Away: This shirt is a little more adventurous, and it’s all the better for it. The desert color scheme is understated but stands out by being different, while the overlapping circle pattern delivers a sharpness to a nebulous design inspired by the country’s coastline.
Home: Ecuador may have been the final side from South America to qualify for Qatar 2022, but this has all the makings of a group stage spoiler. The deep yellow base and red-and-blue accents are subtle but sharp, and the hidden-in-plain-sight zigzag pattern is the sort of attention to detail that rewards anyone who wears this jersey.
Away: La Tri have gone for a bolder look with the away shirt, and this graphic pattern effectively hints at the country’s vibrant culture. Opting for a subtler base color in navy keeps this jersey from overwhelming the eye and infuses the aesthetic with a touch of elegance.
Home: Puma has reverted to a throwback logo and typeface for Qatar 2022, and that decision feels holistic with this Senegal jersey. The chevron design across the chest gives off vintage vibes, further enhanced by Puma’s old-school branding, and the colors of the country’s flag truly pop against the white base.
Away: Another choice Puma made for this tournament was to introduce this template, which is … well, it’s a choice. There isn’t a single team supplied by Puma at this tournament that’s able to successfully pull off this centrally aligned template that looks more like a running bib than a soccer jersey, making Senegal’s hopes of emerging from this group slim.
Home: With their nickname as the Oranje, it’s not often when you can feel let down by a Dutch home kit, and yet, here we are. The color of this kit looks more yellow than the traditionally rich orange hue we’ve grown accustomed to, and the graphic pattern has the look of a T-shirt picked up off a 13-year-old’s bedroom floor.
Away: When Netherlands opt for a blue-and-orange away kit, it always pops, and that’s true in this instance. However, Nike also have a polarizing template at this tournament, with awkwardly shaped panels beneath the collar and under the arms, and drawing attention to that with large areas of black detract from the natural complementing that blue and orange do for each other.
Group winner: Ecuador
Eliminated: Netherlands, Senegal
Home: There’s plenty to unpack in what appears at first glance a fairly simple white shirt. The shoulder pattern recalls the design of early-1980s jerseys, while the navy and sky blue bring back fond memories of the legendary Paul Gascoigne and the 1990 World Cup, and the gradient from navy to sky balances that nostalgia with firm modernity.
Away: More flashbacks to Gascoigne and Italia ’90 with the Three Lions’ away kit, a collared red top that’s a dead ringer for the uniforms worn on that run to the semifinals. And again, England have sharply contrasted that history with a strikingly bold yet unquestionably contemporary neon-sky crest and swoosh.
Home: Iran also have kits that bring back those ’90s feels. The graphic sprawling across the chest is reminiscent of the bulbous design language that was all that rage 30 years ago, but it feels like a stretch to call this top a throwback. Instead, it simply feels dated.
Away: Iran won’t get any prettier in their away fixtures against England and Wales. In fact, the red base further fuels those ’90s vibes, recalling the days when the more colors you could squeeze onto a shirt, the better.
Home: Can you picture the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Soccer House in Chicago full of ex-Millwall fans chanting « No one likes us, we don’t care »? This jersey has been universally panned since it leaked months ago. The template is a disappointment, but the pair of sleeve Swooshes inspired by American football jerseys — as opposed to Nike’s branding on the chest, as it’s traditionally done in this sport — is a slap in the face to a supporter culture that routinely has heated debates over whether the game is called « soccer » or « football. »
Away: There’s nothing subtle about tie-dye, so the decision to use such a fun graphic in a monochromatic gradient of navy misses the mark. The USMNT’s corresponding tie-dye training kits (white with bright blue and red tie-dye elements) look infinitely more fun and tease a disheartening « what if. »
Home: The zigzag tonal stripes, made up of countless tiny diagonal stripes and slashes, elevate what could be considered a fairly simple shirt. The faintest touch of green around the crew neck really makes this shirt sing.
Away: The red-and-green wedge pattern on the collar feels like a nice carryover of the design language from the home shirt, but it’s arguably a bit too bold set against the rest of this plain white T-shirt. Some texture, or a jerseywide graphic element incorporating green or red, would’ve gone a long way toward livening this up.
Group winner: England
Eliminated: United States, Iran
Home: When you have an iconic look like Argentina do — the Albiceleste have featured vertical stripes in white and sky blue, looking like an Argentinian flag hung from a balcony, since 1908 — the difference between a good kit and a bad one is in the details, and this year’s edition has a standout Easter egg. Around back, an Argentina flag pours out of the collar and flows down the back of the shirt like another stripe.
Away: Oh. Oh, dear. If you’re a glass-half-full person, you’ll be excited by the various shades of blue and purple, all of which complement each other. It’s just a shame that such brilliant bold colors are overshadowed by this blue flame graphic that feels like a modern reboot of garish 1990s overexuberance.
Home: The pattern is fun, it’s interesting, it’s different. What, exactly, it is, we couldn’t tell you. But for a collection of seemingly haphazard brushstrokes, it comes together pretty nicely.
Away: The away jersey is where the Saudis have stepped up. The Green Falcons’ away kit may look an awful lot like Newcastle United’s third alternate shirt this season, but it’s in the details where it stands out. All over this shirt is a faint graphic pattern of feathers, which ties in beautifully to the team’s name but also looks like high-end wallpaper you’d see on home renovation shows — and that’s a good thing.
Home: Mexico have never been short on strong designs, but even by their lofty standards, their 2022 kits are impressive. The detailed pattern emanating from the collar and stretching all down the front of the shirt — a nod to Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec god whose name translates to « feathered serpent » — grabs your attention and refuses to let go.
Away: Can you win the World Cup in the group stage? If not, why not? This away jersey is gorgeous, the off-white working wondrously well with the deep, rich red of all the accents. And Mexico have again turned to Quetzalcoatl for graphic inspiration, with this print celebrating the deity’s other depictions.
Home: This just about works. The silver shoulders are filled out with a graphic meant to evoke images of feathers from an eagle’s wing, paying homage to Poland’s coat of arms. It’s understated, maybe too understated for its own good, but it does an admirable job of balancing creative spirit with clean design.
Away: Now, this — this is understated. And it’s so, so clean. Could Liverpool wear it? Sure. Manchester United? Why not? No, there isn’t much in the way of design elements drawing inspiration from Poland’s history and heritage, but this is the sort of jersey you could feel comfortable wearing without feeling self-conscious about eye-gouging colors or dizzying graphics.
Group winner: Mexico
Runner-up: Saudi Arabia
Eliminated: Poland, Argentina
Home: This is a look that could only be pulled off by a team going into a World Cup as defending champions and favorites. It’s elegant, it’s regal, the opulent gold crest and swoosh standing out in the most formal of ways against that deep navy shirt. And the single button and almost Mandarin-like collar add a touch of character to a classy kit.
Away: France let their hair down with this one. The royal blue lends the shirt some exuberance, but that energy almost feels wasted against a borderline staid graphic pattern. There are subtle, grayscale images of the Arc de Triomphe and the French Football Federation’s headquarters of Clairefontaine. Beautiful and meaningful choices for design inspiration, but they don’t match the verve conjured by that Game Royal.
Home: Making use of Australia’s sporting colors, green and gold, the Socceroos are always standouts in the kit department. With such a strong palette, though, less is more. This sponge-paint graphic is a little too much.
Away: The choice of neon seafoam green as an accent color is bold, and it should have worked, but its use in the awkward neck panel to accentuate Nike’s template for this tournament makes this away jersey look more like a training top. It’s training wear where brands like Nike can be more forceful in pushing their templates and patterns, not something to be worn at a World Cup and remembered for decades to come.
Home: This is a protest. All the branding, accents and even the crest are all the same red as the rest of the jersey, making those details practically invisible.
« At Hummel, we believe that sport should bring people together, and when it doesn’t, we are eager to speak up and make a statement, » kit supplier Hummel said in a statement. « That’s also why the new Denmark jerseys for the upcoming World Cup have been designed as a protest against Qatar and its human rights record. … We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives. »
Away: Why all black? According to Hummel: « To honor the migrant workers that have died building Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, as well as the families left behind. »
Home: The print adorning the front of this shirt is inspired by ancient Carthaginian armor. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but wearing a shirt modeled after forebears from 200 B.C. who fought the Romans must surely do something for the Tunisians’ motivation.
Away: The away top is an inverse of the home kit, which feels a little … indifferent. It’s good to see a kit from Kappa, though.
Group winner: Denmark
Eliminated: Tunisia, Australia
Home: La Roja‘s home kits are typically predictable, and this year’s is no different. The navy trim is a little too conservative, and the fact that it features prominently on the collar, the Three Stripes, down the sides of the shirt, on the shorts and the socks weighs down what this kit could be.
Away: This, however, is one of the best in the tournament. The colors of the Spanish flag on the Three Stripes pop against the sky blue, and the bright royal shorts and accents bring out the base color incredibly well. The abstract pattern printed across the shirt, and even on the socks, is fun without being overpowering.
Home: The Costa Rica FA introduced a new crest a year ago, and while that’s not news, it deserves mention for being well executed and an immense improvement over what came before. The home jersey is simple and clean, but the chunky cuffs detract from that aesthetic.
Away: There’s just not enough happening here, and what is happening is that chunky cuff. White kits can be tricky. They need strong and well-thought-out accents to truly pop, and this jersey lacks that. It’s too simple for its own good.
Home: Germany wore a similar-looking kit (albeit with a red base instead of white) when they reached the Euro 2008 final, and they’ll be hoping for similar luck in Qatar. The thick black stripe down the middle of the shirt is accentuated by the metallic gold crest and Adidas logo, and the German flag being incorporated into the collar and the striping down the side of the shirt is a smart addition.
Away: Germany have created a theme across their jersey sets by carrying the metallic gold accent work over to the away kit, and that’s something few teams in this World Cup have done successfully. The abstract black-and-red pattern printed on this shirt feels somewhat similar to others on this list — even in this group — but it looks nice and is a strong foundation for those beloved gold accents.
Home: Japan took inspiration from the Sashiko stitching technique found on the country’s traditional kimonos, and the varying brightness of those white graphics further emphasize the bright blues we’ve come to expect from this team.
Away: There is so much potential in this jersey. The continuation of that graphic pattern found on the home kits, implemented in a blue-and-red color scheme reminiscent of those images that come to life with blue-and-red 3D glasses, is a huge win. Expanding that print beyond just the shoulders could’ve made this one of the shirts of the tournament.
Group winner: Japan
Eliminated: Germany, Costa Rica
Home: Welcome to Flavortown! The flames on the sleeves are apt for a team known as the Red Devils, but the Guy Fieri vibes are a lot. A lot.
Away: The Belgian FA’s partnership with Tomorrowland, an iconic music festival held every summer in Boom, just outside of Antwerp, has inspired this away kit, with a beautifully fresh graphic design born from the festival’s famous fireworks. That the pattern is restricted to accent pieces leaves you wanting just that little bit more, though.
Home: Canada won’t get new kits for the World Cup because they are « on a different kit development cycle, » according to Nike. In fact, these uniforms use the same teamwear template that any local team can order. That’s a big miss for the swoosh brand, and for a country that hasn’t qualified for this tournament since 1986, it’s a disappointment for fans who won’t get to celebrate the occasion with a new jersey.
Away: « I’m not a fan of [wearing the same kits to the World Cup], to be honest, » Canada defender Sam Adekugbe told The Athletic in September. « I just feel like every team should get a new kit for the World Cup because it’s a symbolic event. I don’t hate it, but I would have liked to have gotten a new kit, just because it’s something to cherish. »
Home: The last time Morocco won a match at the World Cup was in 1998, and this year’s home kit just happens to be closely modeled after the third jersey that the Atlas Lions wore in France. Between that design inspiration and Puma’s throwback branding, this top gives you all the nostalgic feels.
Away: Morocco have one of the better examples of Puma’s bizarre running-bib template, but that’s not saying a lot. The shaded thick stripe down the shirt is too much on an already busy design, although the intricate detailing of the circle that will enclose players’ numbers is a nice touch.
Home: You know what you’re going to get from Croatia — a red-and-white checkerboard pattern — this year’s edition sees the treatment stop and start sporadically around the area where the players’ numbers will reside. It injects a little freshness into a design that, while classic and widely loved, can at times feel tired.
Away: More checkerboard. The navy and neon aqua is a new color scheme for this team, and it works, especially when considering that the wavy and blurred lines of the pattern are meant to represent the country’s gorgeous Adriatic coastline.
Group winner: Croatia
Eliminated: Morocco, Canada
Home: The shirt of the Selecao is a celebration, but the yellows, blues and greens of this year’s edition feel brighter than ever. (As tournament favorites, maybe they’re preparing for a celebration that will be bigger than ever.) The ghost jaguar pattern that’s present all over this jersey is especially fun, without going overboard.
Away: When that jaguar print isn’t pulled off in a stealth way, as we see on the sleeves of the away kit, it’s a bit much. Applaud Brazil for looking for design inspiration in a locale as beautiful and wondrous as the Amazon rainforest, but discretion is the better part of valor.
Home: Simple and elegant. The rich, deep shade of red is perfectly offset by just the right amount of gold accents. The subtle Serbian crosses, borrowed from the country’s coat of arms, keeps the jersey interesting without looking too busy.
Away: The good: Those subtle Serbian crosses continue, creating a theme across the team’s home and away kits; the metallic gold accents continue to look elegant. The bad: that Puma running-bib template.
Home: One thing that Puma has gotten right at this tournament — with some of its teams, anyway — is the throwback designs that correspond with its new branding. The increasingly thick horizontal stripes from the chest to the shoulders would look right at home on a shirt from 40 years ago, and the V-neck collar adds to the pleasing aesthetic.
Away: That the gradually thickening horizontal stripes carry over from the home jersey is a nice touch, but to incorporate that design element, plus the Swiss flag and the FA’s logo all in and around Puma’s running-bib template is far too much for one single area of a shirt.
Cameroon | One All Sports
Home: The graphic treatment on both of these kits gives off major Autobot vibes. It’s been four years since the last Transformers movie, so that reference feels a bit dated, but with a new film coming out next year, maybe Cameroon are just ahead of the curve. The overall creative concept and, if photos do these tops any justice, quality of this jersey looks like a big step down from what Le Coq Sportif had been providing the Indomitable Lions.
Away: Carrying over the Autobot graphic does hit the mark for consistency in theme, but it also lacks imagination. It’s not a particularly strong design, and to simply apply it to a white base rather than the home’s green feels formulaic.
Group winner: Brazil
Eliminated: Switzerland, Cameroon
Home: This is a bold design choice. The green and red of the Portuguese flag used together can overwhelm, and with each of them featured so prominently here, they threaten to do so. However, Nike says that the goal for this top was to make it look like the players were literally wearing a flag. If that’s the case then job done.
Away: Portugal typically show off some of the best away kits, but this year’s are something of a letdown. Creating a horizontal bar across the chest that mimics the country’s flag is a creative concept, but it’s not as eye-catching as what we’re used to seeing from Portugal.
Home: These are pretty simple. Maybe too simple. But the plain white top is unquestionably clean, and the Ghanaian flag being used as the cuffs pops nicely against all that white.
Away: Among the least offensive of Puma’s running-bib templates, but that’s not saying a lot. Looking at this shirt with a glass-half-full mindset, the flag is again incorporated into the sleeves, but it’s less successful than it is on the white shirt.
Home: This might be the best jersey Puma brought to Qatar. Uruguay’s traditional sky blue is unobstructed by design gimmicks, and the almost shawl-looking collar done up in white, matching with the white cuffs and single white button, completes an incredibly crisp shirt.
Away: Putting aside the running-bib template, which is hard to do, the vertical Albiceleste striping down the front of the shirt is awfully reminiscent of an Argentina jersey. There probably won’t be many in Montevideo who are too thrilled by that comparison.
Home: The shade of red is attention-grabbing without burning out your retinas, and the tiger-stripe-look shoulders continue a design theme that Nike and South Korea crushed with their away kit in 2020. This is a strong offering without being overpowering.
Away: With other teams in this tournament, Nike has prioritized its template over the overall design, but here, the template takes a back seat to the incredibly colorful swathes of blue, red and yellow brushstrokes. This is the sort of creativity that makes kits from World Cups so memorable.
Group winner: South Korea
Eliminated: Portugal, Ghana
Round of 16
Ecuador vs. Wales
This is a meeting between two kits that strive to be neat and tidy, and unfortunately for Wales, Ecuador has one of the cleanest shirts in this tournament — not to mention an edge in the accent details.
Mexico vs. France
It’s a shame that these two teams meet so early in the competition. France have some of the best kits at Qatar 2022, but Mexico are finally through to the quinto partido after a comprehensive defeat of Les Bleus.
Denmark vs. Saudi Arabia
This is an interesting matchup, because as the runners-up of Group C, the Saudis get to don their falcon-feather away kits. Unfortunately for them, this is a Denmark shirt that has a slick look and even better messaging.
England vs. Qatar
This could have been a close matchup had Qatar been able to wear their away kits as Group A runners-up, but because England were winners of Group B and could select their home whites, the tournament hosts were forced into their fairly pedestrian home strip.
Japan vs. Belgium
Belgium get the opportunity to take it to one of the stars of the group stage by wearing their lovely festival-inspired away jersey, but the Samurai Blue of Japan is just too much.
Brazil vs. Uruguay
This isn’t necessarily the best round-of-16 matchup, but it’s certainly the closest. Uruguay’s home shirt is arguably the cleanest in the whole tournament, but it wouldn’t be a World Cup without a knockout-round run from Brazil.
Croatia vs. Spain
Another perfect home-vs.-away matchup and another squeaker. Spain’s aways are some of the best in the tournament, and it’s such a tight contest against the traditional checkerboard of Croatia that this one is going to extra time, whereby the kits not worn will decide it, and the Checkered Ones have a definitive edge in that department.
South Korea vs. Serbia
Serbia can feel proud of their effort in reaching the last 16, but there’s not enough in that Puma running-bib template to trouble South Korea.
Japan vs. Brazil
This is an upset in every sense. Brazil’s yellow kit is practically synonymous with the World Cup, and while this poppier yellow can compete with the bold blue of Japan, the home team in this contest has a more coherent design from top to bottom.
Ecuador vs. Mexico
A quarterfinal appearance for Ecuador is a huge achievement, and against different opponents they could’ve potentially reached the final four but Mexico get to wear their stunning away kit here and the matchup isn’t even all that close.
Croatia vs. South Korea
It’s a shame to see a proud footballing nation with a rich tradition of impressive kits get shown up like this, as Croatia never stood a chance. South Korea get to wear their stunningly beautiful away jerseys. The semifinals beckon.
England vs. Denmark
Sooner or later, Denmark were going to run out of steam, and it happens in the quarterfinal round. It’s a narrow victory for England, who’ve somehow made a run to the final four without wearing their superior away top. Is it … is it coming home?
Mexico vs. Japan
It was fun while it lasted, Japan. Maybe had that vintage-3D-look print extended throughout their away jersey, they could’ve taken the game to Mexico. But it doesn’t, and El Tri are on to the final!
South Korea vs. England
You could say England were unlucky in that their away strip clashes with South Korea‘s home, but even if you let the Three Lions wear their reds, they’re still not knocking off the dazzling multicolor away shirt. It’s still not coming home. Sorry, England.
Final: Mexico vs. South Korea
What a matchup! First of all, we get South Korea in that fetching away kit, which is potentially the best in the tournament. But you know what else is one of the best shirts in the tournament? The green of El Tri. Mexico, who’ve never played a fifth game at a World Cup since 1986, win the World Cup of Kits.
2. South Korea
13. Saudi Arabia
25. Costa Rica
28. United States