Warning: The ugliest soccer jerseys have been known to render viewers instantly blind. In honor of Norwich City’s monstrous third kits, which they have wisely replaced for the 2017-2018 season, it seems fitting to remember other dearly departed jerseys of an abominable variety.
Look, it’s a tall task: Either modify an existing design (while staying true to a club’s historical branding) or introduce something new that blows the existing out of the water. Kit designers have to be bold; nobody wants to cheer for a dull grey army. All too often, however, the risk/reward of bold choices has ended in the comically absurd.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst on-pitch sartorial selections.
Norwich City (3rd kit) 2016-2017
These monstrosities were “inspired by history,” Norwich City claimed. The history, of these bird diarrhea kits, apparently, harkens back to the 1992-1994 City jerseys. Many, however, noted the similarity between the tops and bus seats. At best, the look is something like the smeared palette of a painter who only works in green and yellow. At worst, it looks like the wearer threw up on himself after eating something green and yellow.
Deportivo Palencia 2016
Astonishing this idea got from idea to reality. Unveiled with the slogan “nos dejamos la piel,” which roughly translates as ‘we give our skin,” these Deportivo Palencia jerseys worn briefly during last year’s playoffs are intended to convey the player’s dedication to the squad.
History of flaying heretics during the Spanish Inquisition be damned! But hey, Deportivo Palencia are the only fourth division Spanish side you’ve heard anything about (perhaps ever), so we can call this a publicity stunt that worked remarkably well.
And more muscles! Credit where it’s due: Reggina’s 2015 derby game jersey against their mortal rivals (Crotone) came a year before the Deportivo skinless shirts. The concept here, apparently, is an ancient Greek statue. The execution looks more like the tee shirt with chiseled pecs and abs your buddy who’s nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is, likes to wear to the beach.
Arsenal (away) 1991-1993
Good god, this is a bold look. Something of a kente cloth-inspired jersey, Arsenal astonishingly wore this strange silk scarf-looking this for two seasons. It was, apparently, so good the first time around, they decided to play the same song again. The 90s were a dark period for soccer jerseys, which is ironic, given the bold awfulness of some of these designs.
Sheffield Wednesday (away) 1986-1987
Not a good look any day of the week, this grandma’s pajama-looking getup has risen to a cult status in recent years. Why? Who knows. Shorts straight from the Richard Simmons collection, as well.
Did you enjoy Magic Eye books as a child? How about a Magic Eye jersey? And as a bonus: Can you spot the swastikas? Awful stuff.
Hull City 1992-1993
Tiger, tiger burning bright! What can you really say? Again, how did this get from half-baked concept to execution? “Hull City are the Tigers? How about a tiger-stripe jersey?” Brilliant!
VfL Bochum 1997
This jersey would have been a noble gesture if it were some limited release in support of gay pride, owing to the signature rainbow spectrum. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Which begs the question: Why the heck are you adding a rainbow of colors to the shoulder region of a jersey?
Scunthorpe United 1994-1995
Also seemingly inspired by bus seats, Scunthorpe United’s 1994 kit takes a bunch of colors that don’t look great on their own and combines them in a way that certainly doesn’t look good. That’s the essence of great design, right?
Colorado Caribous 1978
The creme de la caribou. All credit to the Colorado Rapids for their April Fool’s reveal of these jerseys as their alternate look in 2014. Unfortunately, these tasseled abominations were real jerseys worn by a real soccer team—the Colorado Caribous of the North American Soccer League, who played for all of one inglorious season.