‘Quirky’ England kit feature ‘not the St George’s flag’ – Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate says a cross of St George in any colours other than red and white is not a true cross of St George, but admitted that he was “a little bit lost” by the controversy over England’s new home shirt.

The new home kit, launched on Monday, features a cross on the back of the collar where the traditional red bars are replaced with purple, blue and navy.

This has led to days of criticism in which the new motif has been accused of being a political gesture. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have been among the voices to argue that the bars should be returned to red.

Southgate was asked about the issue for the first time on Friday and said that the new design fundamentally altered the meaning.

“My view is if it’s not white with a red cross it’s not the St George’s flag,” Southgate said. “So whatever it is, it’s a quirky design feature which I guess a Banksy or a Reuben Dangoor might do.”

When asked whether this meant he was against it, Southgate repeated: “They can put a quirky design together but you can’t say it’s the flag of St George because it isn’t. It’s therefore something else.”

The flag on the collar of England’s new kit (Nike Football)

The design was intended to incorporate new colours into the cross as a tribute to England’s training kit from the 1966 World Cup. A tweet from the Nike account on Monday morning described it as “a playful update” of the flag, “to unite and inspire”.

When the FA released a statement on the matter on Friday lunchtime, it said that this was “not the first time that different coloured St George’s cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts”.

But Southgate did not sound outraged by the development, pointing out that the flag is not even the most important aspect of an England shirt.

“If the debate is ‘should the England flag be on the England shirt’, we’ve had moments where it has been and moments where it hasn’t been,” he said. “The most important thing on the England shirt is the Three Lions really. That is the thing that is iconic, that differentiates us even from the England rugby team or the England cricket team.

People don’t think we should change the flag of St George, (but) if it’s changed then it isn’t the flag of St George! So I’m a little bit lost with that element of it.”



Nike, England, and a shirt-collar culture war that really shouldn’t have existed

(Top photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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