Whilst watching Italy play Sweden in Euro 2004, several TMFD writers pondered the relationship between flags and national team strips. In a fit of procrasturbation, here’s the answers to those questions:
Why do Germany play in white and black?
White and black were the colours of Prussia, the dominant force in the Empire, so given that Germnany first played a game in 1908, it seems reasonable to assume this was a key factor in the choice. More interesting though is…
Why was the German second strip (until 2002) green?
The only answer I can find on the interweb says it was because of the Republic or Ireland. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the new West German side found it difficult to arrange matches. The first country to oblige were the Irish, and the German FA chose the second strip colour in their honour. It’s a wonderful story, and the only thing that gets in the way of this heartwarming story of peace and tolerance through the magic of football is that is it complete bollocks.
The real answer is because the colours of the German FA are green and white. No more, no less. And why are those colours green and white? I suspect because football is played on grass, which is green, and uses white markings. The Irish angle is something of a German urban myth and in Germany, when the rational explanation conflicts with the mythical one, print the rational explanation.
Why do England play in white and blue, when the St George cross is white and red?
The FA say that’s it’s because blue is on the FA crest and so it’s an official FA colour. I don’t find this satisfying at all, especially given that red is also on that FA crest. Until someone can say otherwise more convincingly, I’ll take it as a traditional conflation of England and the UK, and the prevalance of blue in the Union Flag. So there.
And finally, on a related note, the Freaky Trigger party also asked why there’s orange in the Irish tricolour. We were right.