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Sunak says 'don't mess with' the flag on England's football kit

Sunak says 'don't mess with' the flag on England's football kit

  • Written by Jeremy Colley and Jacqueline Howard
  • BBC News

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The new England shirt features what Nike calls a “playful update” to the St George's Cross

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the St George's Cross should not be trifled with, in a row over the colors of the England football kit.

Earlier, Culture Minister Lucy Fraser joined the chorus of prominent voices opposing Nike's design of the new kit.

The design takes creative license with the cross by adding dark blue, light blue and purple to the traditional red.

BBC News has learned that there are no plans to change or retrieve the shirt.

Speaking to reporters, Sunak said he “prefers the original flag” and that the national flag is a “source of pride” and identity.

“When it comes to our national flags, we should not mess with them because they are a source of our pride and identity, and they are perfect as they are,” he said.

The Culture Minister said on social media: “Fans should always come first, and this is clearly not what the fans want. Our national heritage – including the St George's Cross – brings us together. Tampering with it is senseless and unnecessary.”

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer The sun said “Science is used by everyone, is uniform, and does not need to be changed.”

“We just have to be proud of that,” he said. “So I think they need to reconsider this and change it again.”

Nike says the shirt, which was launched earlier this week ahead of Euro 2024, includes a “playful update to the St George’s Cross” which “appears on the collar to unite and inspire”.

A Nike spokesperson told the media: “The England 2024 home kit disrupts history with a modern twist on a classic style,” inspired by the training kit worn by the 1966 World Cup-winning England team.

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England captain Bobby Moore meets the Queen in 1966 in training kit

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Bobby Charlton (left) among the members of the World Cup-winning squad

The 'Authentic' version will go on sale on March 21 at £124.99 for adults and £119.99 for children, while the 'Playground' version will cost £84.99 and £64.99 for children.

It is understood that the FA stands by Nike's design and rejects any suggestion that they are trying or wanting to change the St George's flag.

The flag traditionally features a bright red St. George's Cross on a white background.

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton told BBC Radio 4's Today program that he did not agree with the changes, saying: “I'm a traditionalist.”

Shilton, who participated in the World Cup finals in 1982, 1986 and 1990 and is the current record holder for most professional appearances, said that the England national football team represents the country, “and red, white and blue are the colors on our flag.”

However, England midfielder Declan Rice and Lionesses striker Alessia Russo told England Football they rated the new kit 10 out of 10.

Adrian Bevington, the former FA managing director, said he personally would not have signed this kit.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast that there would have been a long process before the final design was approved.

“I was supposed to say no. When I was reading the plenary hall at this moment, I personally would not have signed it.

“The St George's Cross flying over Wembley is good enough for me.”

It is known that the flag flying at Wembley Stadium will not change.

Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader and Brexit campaigner, speaking on GB News, said it was an “absolute joke” and that the new logo had “nothing to do with the Cross of St George at all”.

Image source, England / FA

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England home and away kits 2024

On Nicky Campbell's show on BBC Radio 5 Live, there was a heated debate between callers across the country.

“People have died for this science for thousands of years,” said taxi driver Joe V. Stirling with “steam” coming out of his ears.

Liz Perry said she was “angry” and that it was about heritage.

Alison, from Harrogate, said the Red Cross “can seem a bit nationalistic” and felt the new kits were cool and modern.

Bell said in Cwmbran that he found the whole thing “absolutely funny” and didn't understand why people were upset by the shirt.

Meanwhile, Katie in Clitheroe said she was surprised the discussion did not focus on the cost of the collection.

Ed Cowburn, who designs football kits for a living, told the Today program that the St George's Cross had been a regular feature of England's kit since the early 2000s.

“The St George's Cross probably only appeared on about six kits as a distinctive graphic element,” he said.

He added that the way the color scheme was described – as a “refresh” – should have made it clear instead that it was a “graphic element” relating to the kit's colours.

“You could say that the kit itself this time is one of the most traditional kits we have had in about 20 years, because it has the navy shorts and the Three Lions badge in very traditional colours,” he said.

The England men's national team are set to wear the new kit for the first time during their matches with Brazil and Belgium at Wembley on March 23-26.

Nike said the new design refers to the training kit of the 1966 World Cup-winning team, which was dark blue and featured blue, red and white stripes along the edges.

A similar, albeit thinner, stripe pattern adorns the shirt cuffs and hem of the shorts in the 2024 collection.

The outgoing 2022 kits did not carry the English flag at all.

This is not the first time that Nike has faced criticism for selling England national team shirts in recent months. During the Women's World Cup last summer, the sportswear brand was forced to reverse its decision not to sell replica Mary Earp goalkeeper jerseys, following a public outcry.

At the time, the Lionesses star said she found it “painful” that fans could only buy players' shirts, not hers.

This is not the first time that the flag has been changed on the English football kit. In 2010, the team's jerseys featured a small, multi-colored St. George's Cross pattern dotted on the shoulders.

Designer Peter Saville told the BBC that the design reflects a “coloured society”.

Regarding the equipment that was the focus of controversy today, Savile said: “It is interesting that we are talking about it in 2024. I thought it was very topical 10 years ago, but perhaps it has become more important now.”

Designer Stella McCartney also found herself the subject of criticism after designing Team GB's kits for the 2012 Olympic Games with a blue and white Union Jack.

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