Despite that embarrassing blunder by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in Tuesday's game, Russia just may be the best team in this year's World Cup -- at least when it comes to their sense of style.
Along with France and Ghana, Russia is one of the teams appreciated more for their sense of fashion than for their footwork in this year's tournament. The Russian team's jerseys are in high demand by soccer fans, since they are considering by many the best-looking shirts among the 32 teams in the tournament.
In Brazil, one manager of a big sports store told the Wall Street Journal that Russian soccer jerseys have become a hit because the shirts are considered the best looking. Both big stores and small stores have reported team Russia is the top-seller and selling out quickly.
“A lot of the customers don’t even know which country the jersey represents,” Wederson Ribeiro, the manager of a big sports store in a shopping mall in Belo Horizonte, told the Journal in an article published on Tuesday. “They are just really drawn by the nice dark red, and even because the shirts are sort of simple and not flashy.”
GQ men's magazine chose France’s “sophisticated” indigo-blue jersey as the best-looking, likening the French polo shirt to a garment that “looks like it belongs on a rack at Barneys.” Colombia’s yellow, diagonal striped jersey came in second and Mexico’s lightning bolt-adorned jersey in third. Iran placed last because GQ didn't like the endangered Asiatic cheetah splashed across the red jersey.
AskMen.com’s Irish and British websites voted Brazil’s yellow jersey sponsored by Nike the best looking while the Canadian version of the website chose France. Mashable also ranked the Brazilian jersey as No. 1, followed by Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany, respectively.
The other champion in World Cup fashion is the U.S., whose team merchandise outsells every other team. World Cup uniforms, called “kits” in the soccer world, are sponsored by big corporations which make the official merchandise. Of the 32 teams, Nike sponsors 10 teams, Adidas sponsors nine and Puma sponsors eight teams. Smaller sports clothing companies -- Burrda, Marathon, Uhlsport, Joma and Lotto -- sponsor the remaining teams.
According to Fanatics.com, which sells official merchandise for all 32 teams in the World Cup, USA merchandise is the best-selling merchandise on the website followed by Brazil, Italy, Portugal and England. Team USA’s jersey is by Nike and sells for $89.95. The authentic jersey sells for $149.95 on the website. Fanatics said that it saw a 300 percent influx in sales of Team USA merchandise before the team’s big win over Ghana on Monday.
Fanatics.com also said sales of USA forward Clint Dempsey's merchandise spiked by more than 200 percent in the first week of the World Cup, making him the top-selling player on the website. Brazil’s Neymar, Team USA’s Michael Bradley, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Argentina’s Lionel Messi are also big sellers, Fanatics noted.
"We find that many of the fans are purchasing based upon their heritage, and that wearing their nation's colors proudly is more important than player preference," Jason Karlowski, manager of sports marketing and public relations for Modell’s Sporting Goods, said in an article published last week in the Journal.
Not to mention, the national team roster isn't finalized until a few weeks before the World Cup, leaving little time for manufacturing, distribution and selling.