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German soccer rethinking font design for jerseys after Nazi comparisons

BERLIN — The German Football Association (DFB) announced Monday that it will redesign the font used on its soccer jerseys after comparisons were drawn to a Nazi symbol, outlawed in Germany.

Similarities between the number 44 and the SS rune of the Nazi Schutzstaffel paramilitary organization — similar to two lightning bolts — were first drawn last week on social media. The SS was the unit most responsible for overseeing and administering the Nazi’s crimes against humanity, including the genocide of 6 million Jews.

None of the parties involved in checking the numbers “saw any proximity to Nazi symbolism in the creation process of the jersey design,” the DFB said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

“Nevertheless, we take the comments very seriously and do not want to provide a platform for discussions … we will develop an alternative design for the number 4 and coordinate it with UEFA.”

The DFB’s comments follow a decision by Germany’s kit manufacturer and homegrown sportswear brand Adidas, to block personalization of national team jerseys on its online store earlier on Monday.

The company “firmly rejects any suggestion that this was our intention,” Adidas spokesman Oliver Brüggen told German media Monday.

“Any attempts to promote divisive or marginalizing views are not part of our values as a brand.”

Prior to the number 44 controversy, a number of terms linked to the Nazis were already prohibited by the personalization service.

Germany’s national shirts have been no stranger to national headlines in recent weeks, as the country gears up to host the UEFA Euro 2024 soccer tournament this summer. Critics claimed last month the team’s new hot pink and lilac away kit is untraditional, while advocates say the colors represent diversity.

The DFB’s recent decision to end a decades-long partnership with Adidas in favor of US. sportswear giant Nike as its kit supplier also sparked uproar — even in political circles.

German business daily Handelsblatt, reported that Nike will pay the cash-strapped DFB more than $108 million per year between 2027 and 2034, double the reported worth of the annual Adidas deal.

German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck slammed the Nike deal, saying he “would have liked a bit more local patriotism.”

“I can hardly imagine the Germany shirt without the three stripes,” Habeck said.

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