In the pink

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-27 5:03:03

A brief history of football kits through rosy tinted spectacles

Alvaro Morata of Juventus in action during their Italian Serie A match against Sassuolo on October 28 in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Photo: CFP

Scotland released their new kits for World Cup 2018 qualifying and they are going to stand for more reason than being the only British Isles team to miss out on Euro 2016. Alongside a welcome return of tartan to the home kit there was also the somewhat shocking addition of a pink away kit.

Pink kits are all the rage nowadays and you could put that down to the color's domination on other areas of the game (Anthony Martial's boots) and society in general but the truth is much stranger than that.

Scotland's flirtation with fuchsia stems back to Archibald Primrose, the fifth Earl Rosebury, a British prime minister who also owned winners in the Derby. Rosebury was a keen supporter of the Scottish Football Association in its early days and the national team adopted his racing colors - primrose yellow and rose pink - on occasion, including two separate thrashings of England nearly two decades apart.

Blast from the past

This year's may be the most outright pink of their kits but they have had touches of it in recent years, the recent resurrection of Roseberry's racing colors in 2014 and the salmon pink number they were wearing during a shock win against Germany at the turn of this century.

Despite their long history, it was not just the Scots who were in the pink early on. The beginnings of professional football were filled with men dressed in various shades of pink, playing the game with gay abandon. Back in the days of knickerbockers, Hamilton Academical, Bolton Wanderers, Portsmouth, Brentford, Everton and Barnet all wore kits that included descriptions such as cerise, salmon pink and violet - Luton Town even played in a matching cap.

It was around this time that football was spreading around the world and hand in hand with the beautiful game went some beautiful kits. Juventus, formed in 1897, originally played in pink tops before adopting the black and white stripes of Notts County in 1903. They abandoned their association with pink out of choice for many years but it has appeared in the palate for their away kits, more often since the 1997-98 centenary kit.


While Juventus chose not to wear pink, their southern cousins Palermo in Sicily had the move forced upon them. Palermo wore red and blue when they formed in 1898 but chose pink for their home shirt in 1907. This stayed the case until 1936 when Mussolini's regime made the club change their colors to yellow and red, those of the local municipality. In 1942, they defiantly returned to their pink and black, which they have stuck with since. The players may not have always kept the team in Serie A but they have always cut a dash.

In recent seasons, pink has become de rigeur. Real Madrid managed to feature the color on both their home and away kits last season. The home kit featured prink detailing while the away number was vibrant pink throughout - shirt, shorts and stockings (as kits used to be listed in match programs) - for the first time in 112 years. Adidas, the designers, may have been inspired by the metrosexuality of the Madrid stars, particularly Cristiano Ronaldo, or they could have just been playing catch up with Barcelona, who played in pink jerseys in 2009. They also chose another tone for their training kit last season. Apparently, the Catalans made the right choice - winning the treble, including taking the Champions League from their rivals.

Much of the influx of pink has been for a good cause. To show their support for breast cancer awareness, many clubs around the world at every level have taken to wearing pink to match the associated ribbon. Since Oldham Athletic played in a one-off pink kit away to Leeds United in 2009, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians in Ireland, MLS side Toronto FC and English Conference side Weymouth FC have been among the number to sport pink. This season Primera Liga's Las Palmas, League One's Northampton Town, Premier League's Bournemouth and Scotland's Partick Thistle are wearing the color for charity.

Elsewhere, Evian in France, Peru's Sport Boys, Cerezo Osaka in Japan, Spanish side Sevilla, Thai outfit Chainat FC, Portuguese club Benfica, VfL Bochum in Germany and Premier League evergreens Everton have all become synonymous with one shade or another. But that doesn't mean everything has been rosy as football has come to terms with change.

A way to go

Sheffield United scrapped plans to wear pink in 2000 when their players said they were not comfortable wearing it. Similarly, Bristol Rovers set the world back a little when they decided not to wear their away kit on a trip to Shrewsbury's Gay Meadow ground - the kits themselves only came about after an April Fool backfired and fans opted to buy them rather than being outraged. That was exactly what happened in Venezuela, when in 2012 fans of Deportivo Tachira stormed the pitch when their team sported a pink kit against Atletico Venezuela - it might have been OK if the change from the normal kit was for a reason other than breast cancer awareness.

It's been a spotted history on and off the pitch for pink kits but if Scotland do make it to Russia, given what we have heard in the buildup to the next World Cup they may need to make another choice.

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