What’s in a Flag, anyway?

The anger towards a tiny aspect of England’s new football kits has been depressingly predictable

Patrick Hollis
3 min readMar 28, 2024
The very small feature that has many up in arms (Photo: Nike)

The release of a new England football kit before a major tournament is always usually a positive signal that summer is on its way. The kits are usually pretty good, and this time around Nike opted to give England a purple away strip which will no doubt make appearances over in Germany.

It is, however, an interpretation of the English flag on the home shirt that led to an unholy meltdown by people who would usually be the first to label others ‘snowflakes’ for getting worked up over something so small. The UK’s politicians have even been united in their ‘anger’ at the flag, which Nike have come out with and said is a nod to the training kit worn by the England team during their successful 1966 World Cup campaign- an influence that is also on the away kit.

Both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Keir Starmer have criticised Nike, warning them that they shouldn’t have ‘messed’ with the English flag. You do have to wonder if the same people getting angry over a five inch shape on a football shirt were also having fits of rage when Team GB released their blue and white take on the Union flag in 2012? (Another kit that was very nice, by the way).

Aspects of the British press have thrust the words ‘woke’ out already, showing that still after all of the years of it being used as lazy weaponry by the right, many still don’t know that it’s actually not a bad thing. The alteration of the English flag isn’t ‘an attack on Britishness’, it’s a very small addition to a kit that reflects a key part of English football history.

St George is looked upon as the peak of all things English and social media has flooded with more images of the patron saint in the fallout from this kit saga. I’m sure the man born in Turkey would be devastated by all of this. A petition to get Nike to change it has even been started, though it remains to be seen if this will have any real impact.

An example of just how small the feature is (Photo: Nike)

In reality, there are other more pressing matters that people should be angry about, yet this one is being put front and centre. The cost of living crisis, failing infrastructure and a country where normal people are worrying about their finances on a daily basis should be front page news, but the colours of a flag about five inches big is instead.

If people did want to kick off about an aspect of the kit, then they should have directed attention at the price. £120 for an adult shirt and £65 for a children’s version is absolutely grim and this should have been the subject of petitions and front page news articles.

Nike’s statement was lengthy, and in its entirety it reads: “We have been a proud partner of the FA since 2012 and understand the significance and importance of the St George’s Cross and it was never our intention to offend, given what it means to England fans.

“Together with the FA, the intention was to celebrate the heroes of 1966 and their achievements. 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 on the back of the collar.”

Too many people in this country seem to have their priorities in the wrong place. Maybe it’s easy to have a pop at the colour of a rectangle and not at other far more important things that are going wrong in the UK, or maybe this is what is important to the public in 2024? Either way, it isn’t a great look.



Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience in the industry