Long gone are the days of shiny polyester shirts in soccer, of short shorts, numbers with no name above them, and players wearing all-black boots. With the game having undergone a serious facelift over the course of several decades, modern-day performers want to look as good as they feel.
Kit design is now a multi-billion dollar business, with merchandise shifted by the bucketload in every corner of the planet, with fans from Miami to Mumbai wanting to nail their colors to particular masts with elaborate shows of support.
The latest shirt becomes a must-have purchase, as does the newest virtual simulator on mobile or game console platforms, while brightly colored cleats are the favored option of those seeking to emulate the efforts of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
These players, who boast the kind of celebrity status that their predecessors from generations gone by could only dream of, strut their stuff on the grandest of stages and become idols to millions. In 2022, World Cup betting has sided with the likes of Argentina, Portugal and Brazil as superstar performers within their respective ranks chase down the biggest of sporting prizes, with all eyes on them during a historic tournament in Qatar.
Going all the way at that event in the Middle East will allow more medals to be collected by those involved, while collective reputations will be enhanced as loyal legions of followers continue to grow. Everybody will want a slice of the pie and to the victors will most definitely go the spoils.
For those on the outside looking in, watching the cream of a soccer crop strut their stuff on the most prominent of platforms is about as exciting as it gets. With that in mind, and with FIFA eager to squeeze as much as possible out of the game at the very highest level, there has been talk of hosting global gatherings on a more frequent basis.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who now fills a role as chief of global football development for FIFA, has famously said of tweaking a calendar that has been set in stone since 1930: “If you look at the teams in the World Cups usually the average age is 27 or 28. Because the World Cup is every four years there are very few chances to win it again because when they go back to the next World Cup they are 32 or 33. That’s why maybe we should organize the World Cup every two years.”
Unsurprisingly, said comments went down like a lead balloon. While there are obvious benefits to staging major competitions every other year, a sense of spectacle and prestige would be lost if you were only ever 24 months away from staking a claim for championship glory.
The fact that the World Cup only rolls around every four years is what makes it so special, and why those involved are so desperate to get their hands on the ultimate prize.
In the modern era, alongside a famous trophy, there is now a certain addition to shirt designs that is up for grabs. This may be another nod towards retail opportunities, with ever-more elaborate ways concocted of seeing punters part with cash. Once again, this is about taking showmanship to a whole new level.
Back in 2008, it was decided that the holders of a prestigious World Cup crown would be given the chance to sport a golden patch on their international outfits. Italy, as winners in 2006, became the first country to sport the new emblem – and have subsequently been followed by Spain, Germany and France.
The race is now on to secure ownership of a much sought-after addition to iconic jerseys, with Les Bleus among the favorites to go all the way again in Qatar. Competition is fierce, though, and any number of teams could finish a historic tournament with kits being sent back to respective suppliers with minor alterations required.
It may not be the flashiest of sporting accessories, in an era that is dominated by desire to set the latest trends, rather than merely follow them, but it must be considered the ultimate one for players and supporters that want to prove that they are a cut above the rest.