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Outraged fans demand Nike recalls England’s official kit for Euro 2024 after it changed St George’s Cross from red to light blue and purple – as manufacturer claims ‘playful update’ will ‘unite and inspire’

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Nike has caused fury among England football fans for going ‘woke‘ after giving the country’s kit a controversial overhaul by altering the St George’s flag.

The American sportswear company switched the traditional red cross for one featuring navy, light blue and purple on the shirt which costs up to £125.

Supporters and commentators have blasted Nike for making what the firm described as a ‘playful update’ on the collar to ‘unite and inspire’ fans.

Some subsequently branded the new Three Lions shirt ‘woke’ following its launch on Monday and demanded the flag be returned to its original colours.

But neither Nike nor the Football Association (FA) have plans to recall the kit – with sources claiming that the altered flag is a nod to the 1966 World Cup winners.

The FA insists it is aimed at honouring the ‘classic colour regime of 1966 training gear’ used when England won the trophy, rather than diversifying the nation’s flag. 

Sources also told the Daily Telegraph that there was no connection between the new flag colours and the rainbow armband that Harry Kane was banned by Fifa from wearing in support of LGBTQ+ people at the Qatar World Cup last year. 

Fans have reacted furiously to the St George’s Cross being altered on the new England kit

Nike switched the traditional red cross for one featuring navy, light blue and purple

Nike switched the traditional red cross for one featuring navy, light blue and purple

Nike described the change as a 'playful update' on the collar to 'unite and inspire' fans

Nike described the change as a ‘playful update’ on the collar to ‘unite and inspire’ fans

The strip, which was launched ahead of Euro 2024 in Germany this summer, promised to ‘celebrate football heroes of the past with a modern twist’.

But comments from fans on social media have included ‘avoid, too woke, too expensive’; ’embarrassing, disgraceful’; ‘horrendous’ and ‘Nike Football should sack anyone who was complicit with this idea’.

Various politicians have criticised the design, including Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith who told the Daily Express: ‘Maybe somebody in the design department misheard Three Lions and instead went for three lines on a shirt.

‘I’m not sure what this is supposed to be, but it certainly looks nothing like our flag and I’m not sure it needs an ‘update’ either. That said, I doubt they’ll shift many at those sort of prices.’

Reform UK MP Lee Anderson also spoke to the Express, saying: ‘This virtue-signalling, namby-pamby, pearl-clutching woke nonsense must stop. Any more of this and I’ll be on the first flight to Rwanda.’

And former Ukip leader Nigel Farage told GB News: ‘It bears no relationship to the St George’s Cross whatsoever. 

It has been claimed that the new kit is a nod to England's 1966 World Cup heroes

It has been claimed that the new kit is a nod to England’s 1966 World Cup heroes

Sir Alf Ramsey's side remain the only England men's team to win a major tournament

Sir Alf Ramsey’s side remain the only England men’s team to win a major tournament

‘If the England football team think that’s acceptable, well, why on earth would you be apologetic about Englishness if you’re going to play for England in the European football finals? I think it’s an absolute joke.’

Among the pundits hitting out at the shirt has been former footballer Chris Sutton, who told Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off: ‘It’s such a load of b*****s though isn’t it? To unite and what? Inspire. To unite and inspire by changing a flag?

He added: ‘It’s not the cross of St George, is it? I do understand that there will be people out there who will say it’s not representative when it’s on an England jersey and shouldn’t represent an England jersey. I do understand that.

‘I’m not gonna get angry about that, but for heaven’s sake, could the FA have not just, you know… explained?

‘Why would you even need to explain the importance of getting the right flag? It isn’t representative of an England jersey. I mean, it’s like, on The Apprentice with Lord Sugar, when they get sent out to do tasks, and it looks like a massive cock-up.

‘I’m not going to get angry about that. It’s a kit design. But I do understand there will be a lot of people around the country who are going to say it doesn’t represent England and shouldn’t represent England. And that’s it.’ 

The kit was released earlier this week, with England captain Harry Kane modelling it

The kit was released earlier this week, with England captain Harry Kane modelling it 

Nike launched England's new home and away kits earlier this week - but they've been criticised

Nike launched England’s new home and away kits earlier this week – but they’ve been criticised

Chris Sutton, who hosts Mail Sport's It's All Kicking Off podcast, has slammed Nike's decision

Chris Sutton, who hosts Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast, has slammed Nike’s decision

Sutton continued: ‘You’ve got to ask yourself why do it? Why expose yourself to all this noise and all this commentary? Why do it? Why not just have a red, if you want to have the Cross of St George on the kit, just have the Cross of St George’.

He also said: ‘It’s just dumb. It’s just so dumb. The whole thing is so dumb. Why would they even think about tampering with things?’

Earlier today, talkSPORT host Simon Jordan similarly questioned the decision by Nike and ripped into the ‘virtue-signalling FA’.

He said: ‘I don’t quite understand why Nike want to have a playful brief on our identity. Is our national identity a joke, is it something we’re ashamed of?

‘I think our national identity is something we should be proud of. I don’t find it offensive, I find it unnecessary. Rather than reclaim it, what we’ll do is put up a meaningless cross that has no value to it and represents nobody.’

Jordan, who is also a Mail Sport columnist, added: ‘No other country would allow this to happen, they wouldn’t allow it to be done on their national shirt.

‘This is the same Nike that couldn’t even be bothered to produce Mary Earps shirts. I don’t think we should be taking lessons from Nike on the values of this country. 

Some fans have posted memes about the shirt, including those pictured above and below

Some fans have posted memes about the shirt, including those pictured above and below

‘And the FA are absolutely complicit in this. The FA will have their virtue-signalling fingers all over this’.

Joey Barton also vented his frustrations on X, with the former QPR footballer saying: ‘Why did you alter the St George’s Cross on the back of the shirt. Why Rainbow-fy it? France and USA suffer the same change to their national flag?

‘They haven’t done it to the French, US or the Dutch kits. They know the Rainbow, virtue signalling, simps and gimps crew will dig this.

‘Proper England fans should boycott it until they put our national flag back the way it should be and has been for centuries. Embarrassing. Can’t believe the FA signed it off. More woke b******.

‘Don’t worry, there will be gay or lesbian lion soon. Virtue signalling to the max. Who knows one day, One might turn into a lioness. Go woke, go broke.

‘Won’t be buying my sons the shirt that disrespects our country’s flag. Might as well put a Rainbow/Palestine/Ukraine flag on it for all those virtue signalling characters who lap this nonsense up. Fix it Nike.’

Nike unveiled England’s new home and away kits on Monday, ahead of this summer’s Euros in Germany.

The kits – which will also be worn by the Lionesses and England Para teams in 2024 – will cost fans up to £124.99 in adult sizes and £119.99 for children.

The Nike home jersey goes with a classic simple white design with a blue trim, while the kit-makers have gone back with a dark blue for the away strip.

Also among those condemning the change was comedian Jason Manford, who tweeted: ‘Oh dear… this is not gonna go down well. What a weird thing to do though. A US company having a cheeky play with another country’s flag.’

Nike has confirmed it will not alter the jersey, which is said to have ‘flown off the shelves’ since its release on Monday.

Insiders have acknowledged the use of clumsy language in a Nike tweet which spoke of ‘a playful update’ which ‘appears on the collar to unite and inspire’ – but there are no plans to change it.

A Nike spokesperson said: ‘The England 2024 Home kit disrupts history with a modern take on a classic.

‘The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blues and reds topped with purple. The same colours also feature an interpretation of the flag of St. George on the back of the collar.’ 

Former Man City and QPR midfielder Joey Barton also voiced his opinion on the colour change

Former Man City and QPR midfielder Joey Barton also voiced his opinion on the colour change

The shirt also has the full backing of the FA, who are understood to ‘completely stand by it’.

It is thought the flag rejig was the product of a Nike designer which was then signed off by the FA.

While the FA will not disclose which department was involved in the sign-off they too say it is aimed at honouring the ‘classic colour regime of 1966 training gear’ used when England lifted the World Cup 58 years ago, rather than an attempt to diversify the nation’s flag.

The kit was agreed on and entered into the production cycle two years ago.

Even if a desire to change the St George’s Cross existed, industry experts say a new kit would take six to nine months to create and distribute.

While a small number could be made for England’s players, such a scenario is highly unlikely given the large volumes of sales already made.

England head to Germany in the summer looking to go one better than their home heartache at Euro 2020 where Gareth Southgate’s men lost on penalties to Italy in the final at Wembley.

They will face Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in Group C where they are favourites to finish top.

At the kit launch on Monday, England footballer Bukayo Saka was quoted as saying: ‘It is unbelievable. I think this is the best kit we are going to wear and that I will have worn. It has a classic look and the collar is top. It is ten out of ten.’ 

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