Season’s Meetings, no. 7 – France and Russia, 1998 and 1999

This is a slight cheat in that the games featured here don’t take place in a single season, but three clashes between France and Russia across 15 months saw each country in three different kit variations.

The first game was a friendly in Moscow in March 1998, presumably arranged before the teams knew they’d also be facing each other in the Euro 2000 qualifiers.

Russia had just launched a new Nike kit and they wore that, with France having to change from their red socks. Ahead of the World Cup that they were about to host, the competition logo was on the right breast of their shirts. Russia won 1-0.

Russia’s opening game of the European Championship qualifiers was in September, away to neighbours Ukraine.

They opted to wear all-white in that game and that would be the primary kit for the remainder of their Group 4 games – quite a difference from their 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign, when all sorts of styles were worn.

One exception was away to Iceland, where red socks were worn with the white shirts and shorts (even though Iceland were all-blue), while the game at home to France in October 1998 also saw a change.

One has to imagine that it was a psychological ploy to wear the blue change shirts for the game in Moscow, forcing France to switch to white. As Russia had white socks though, France had to use their home set and their get-up didn’t affect them as they won 3-2.

The adidas logo had remained in the centre of the France shirts during the World Cup, with text rather than a logo on the right breast. It was now back on the right, though.

The return game in Paris was also 3-2, though this time for Russia (France were involved in four games of that scoreline during the campaign as they finished top, a point ahead of Ukraine with Russia a point further back).

For this game, France wore their default home kit, with Russia allowed to wear all-white despite the shorts-clash (France kept on the right for consistency).

In the recent World Cup, we saw France wearing six different combinations…

…and with the combinations above added to the default away, the all-white against Italy in the 1998 quarter-final and the blue-blue-red against Croatia in the semi-final, we also get six.

Worn by the senior team, that is. In an U21 tie with Italy in November 1999, the France espoirs wore red shorts with the away shirts, presumably to avoid an overall clash blue-white-blue against white-blue-white.

It meant seven different combinations from that set of kits.


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