Mighty, valiant Croatia have had a dream World Cup, and this weekend, they will take the field for the World Cup final only 26 years after joining FIFA as an official national team. It will obviously be the biggest moment in Croatian soccer history, and as such, they had better not overthink it and do anything misguided, like, say, not wearing the right kits.
Vatreni have worn the following kit for their last five games, defeating Argentina, Iceland, Denmark, Russia, and finally England in their dark kits.
It’s fine! The faint checkerboard pattern and red accents elevate it beyond “boring” to “fine.” However, compared to Croatia’s legendary light kits, these dark navy ones completely shit ass. Look at how much cooler Ivan Rakitić looks in this picnic-ass get up.
You can see my point. They have worn some version of the šahovnica—“chessboard,” the national symbol of Croatia—at the World Cup since they debuted in 1998. Some might consider the 1998 version the peak of the form, and they’ve changed bit by bit since then.
These kits are iconic for a reason (they are real dang pretty), and yet Croatia have kept them hidden for every game at this World Cup except for their opener against Nigeria. That was a month ago! I wanna see the picnic shirts.
Here is what the great big book of UEFA rule has to say about kit selection:
In principle, each team shall wear its official team kit as declared on the team colour form. If the two teams’ colours might cause confusion, the host team shall be entitled to wear its official team kit and the visiting team shall use its reserve team kit or, if necessary, a combination of the official and the reserve team kits.
Per a May release from the Croatian federation, the checkerboard/picnic kit serves as the team’s “official team kit,” while the dark one is the “reserve.” Luke Modrić, or whoever wrote this press release for him, specifically noted that their cool jerseys were an integral part of the Croatian team’s identity.
Every Croatia player is proud to wear one of the most beautiful and most iconic jerseys in the world. I love the supersize red-and-white squares because they reflect both our high ambitions and the great potential of the team. This will be my first time captaining the Croatian national team at the World Cup, and this jersey will always be an especially meaningful one for me
I can see why they had to wear their dark kits against Argentina and England, who wanted to wear iconic kits of their own, and Russia, who were the hosts. However, they shouldn’t have a problem in the final. France’s primary kit features a blue shirt, and they will almost certainly want to play in the 2018 iteration of their most famous kit. Both teams should be able to play in their preferred kits without issue, which fans should really be pulling for, since the alternative is one blue-shirted team against one white-shirted team. Maybe Croatia will want to do that because they’ve had great success in their blue kits, but they’d be passing on the biggest possible moment to show off the picnic kits.
So, Croatia, please, do the right thing. Thank you.
Update (4:26 p.m. ET): Success.