Great one-offs – France, 2016
Even four years on, the first iteration of the Nike Vapor range continues to divide opinion. Our view is that it was actually quite a good modular template, but the desire of Nike to give nearly every team contrasting socks was an affectation too far. Last year, we reimagined the major international kits in classic colour-schemes for a Fantasy Kit Friday.
Having had navy shirts for their 2014 kit, France were back in a more familiar hue. However, at the 2014 World Cup they ended up wearing blue-blue-red quite a lot and this was now the default look, along with darker blue sleeves.
Along with the new first kit was a change strip, with white once again the main colour, though Nike had mixed things up. In keeping with the contrasting-socks approach, they were navy, while one sleeve was blue and the other was red.
The change strip ended up being worn first, away to the Netherlands in France’s first international of 2016, a 3-2 friendly win in Amsterdam.
The blue kit was worn in the next three friendlies and France’s first two group games as they hosted Euro 2016. For the final match before the knockout stage, the were the away side for the clash with Switzerland and so a change was needed. However, while Fifa didn’t have a problem with the alternative shirt’s use against the Dutch, Uefa had stricter regulations.
They would only allow alternately-coloured sleeves if the body had a similarly split design and so the tones of the sleeves were heavily reduced to make them look almost white. Special navy shorts – rather than the home blue – were worn along with white socks.
If proof were needed that this was a Uefa edict and not a Fifa one, it was given at that summer’s Copa America Centenario in the USA. The hosts’ away kit was similar to France’s but in black and they wore it in the competition against Costa Rica. Similarly, for 2017-18, Internazionale’s change shirt had different-coloured sleeves, which was allowed in Serie A and, as they weren’t in Europe that season, no modifications were needed.
For their 2018 World Cup qualifiers – run by Uefa for Fifa – France wore the second edition of the white shirt, but with the white shorts in each case, including another trip to Amsterdam. The home shirt was also mashed up in 2017 – white socks against Bulgaria to give a Chelsea-like look, while the classic French tricolore was seen in a friendly against Germany.