Allez les rouges
- This week sees the publication of a new book on France shirts, written by Matthieu Delahais and Bruno Colombari, both of whom have been very generous with information over the past few years
For 2008, France went in a new direction with their change kit.
White had been the established back-up choice since the 1950s – usually white shirts, blue shorts and red socks – but at the end of 2006, FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes revealed that red would be the colour of the new alternative strip.
Red had been used on occasion when clashes arose up until 1954 and even after that there was a red third option until the early 1970s. It was a tradition that adidas decided to reignite with Euro 2008 on the horizon, as outlined by Escalettes (kid, look up what a fax machine was):
Our equipment supplier made us a proposal. We liked the jersey…so far, we’ve seen it on a black and white fax!
As it happened, the shirt was only worn twice, in friendlies against Spain and Ecuador in the spring. Against Spain, the default blue shorts were used – the visitors wore their new gold change kit – while against Ecuador the home white shorts gave France a Czech look.
While replicas had the adidas striping travelling the length of the arms, on the field they were curtailed.
Against Spain, the ‘tournament patch area’ was blank, but against Ecuador there was an adidas logo surrounded by a swirling design.
The last time before 2008 that France played in red shirts was something of an oddity. Preparing for the 1986 World Cup, they took on Guatemala in a practice game which wasn’t given full international status.
France won 8-1 and, though their opponents were in all-white, meaning that the new home strip could have been used, perhaps the game’s unofficial nature was a reason in them playing in red shirts and shorts with light-blue socks. Unfortunately, the adidas striping on the shirts and shorts wasn’t of the tricolore white-blue-white-red-white variety.
After 2008, white returned again and, apart from a pale blue change shirt in 2013, it has remained as the reserve choice.