Adidas bans fans from adding ‘44’ to German team football shirt | Germany

Adidas has banned football fans from customising the German national shirt with the number 44 due to its perceived resemblance to the symbol used by Nazi SS units during the second world war.

The Schutzstaffel (SS), a paramilitary organisation of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, was tasked with carrying out the industrialised genocide of Jewish people across Europe.

Concerns over the jerseys were originally raised by the historian Michael König, who said the kit’s design was “very questionable”.

The German away kit also provoked controversy due to its pink colour. Supporters say it reflects Germany’s diversity, while critics claim it is untraditional and a cash grab organised by the German Football Association (DFB).

An Adidas spokesperson, Oliver Brüggen, denied that the kit’s resemblance to the Nazi symbols was intentional. “We as a company are committed to opposing xenophobia, antisemitism, violence and hatred in every form,” he said. “We will block personalisation of the jerseys.”

Designed in 1929, the SS rune has become synonymous with some of the worst crimes perpetrated by the Nazis. Members of the SS were responsible for guarding concentration camps, interrogating suspected traitors and running extermination camps such as Auschwitz, where 1.3 million people were murdered.

This is the second time in recent weeks that an international football kit has caused controversy. Fans of England were critical of changes made to the St George’s cross on the back of the team’s shirt collar.

Nike claimed the use of purple and navy alongside the traditional red was meant to represent inclusivity but critics claimed it was disrespectful and an act of “virtue signalling”. Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, was among the politicians calling for it to be scrapped.

This year’s European Football Championship will take place in Germany, with matches taking place in 10 different cities. It will kick off on 14 June when the hosts take on Scotland.

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