FIFA has some incredibly specific and very odd rules for its uniforms. For example: no number can have a stroke width larger than 5cm or smaller than 3cm.

Sweatsuits--which aren't even worn by players on the field--have rules as well.

Same with baseball cap-style hats, which aren't worn by players.

Branding and advertising play a larger role in soccer than in almost any other sport, except maybe NASCAR, and FIFA has rules for that.

Even the brand logos on the shoulders have rules: they have to be of a certain size, centered, and symmetrical.

Co.Design

The 6 Craziest Requirements For FIFA World Cup Uniforms

Thou shalt not exceed the required stroke width for fonts.

To the unfamiliar, World Cup uniforms seem open to styling: different colors and patterns, brand names, and logos splashed in every possible square inch of fabric. But FIFA actually has incredibly strict guidelines for the uniforms, right down to the millimeter. Creative Review published a few excerpts of the 92-page document, and we've picked out six of the craziest.

All team sports have rules for player uniforms, and some of the rules can seem pretty silly. The NBA, for example, requires that no headbands be larger than two inches wide. The MLB dictates that no uniform have any pattern that resembles a baseball, for some reason. But none is as weird and specific as FIFA. Some of FIFA's rules don't even apply to player uniforms, but to coaches and subs who aren't playing.

Lest you think these are just guidelines, in 2006, FIFA fined the Cameroon team and even docked them points, hurting their chances in the tournament, for the egregious crime of . . . wearing a one-piece uniform. So you'd better obey these crazy specific rules!

1. Stroke Width

If you're going to have super-strict restrictions, placing a limit on the size of players' numbers doesn't seem that crazy. But it gets more specific than that: the font in the numbers has to have a stroke width of between 3 millimeters and 5 millimeters. No numbers too thick or too thin allowed!

2. Non-Player Sweatsuits

It's not just the players that have attire rules: coaching staff, subs, and others wearing sweatsuits are allowed to wear branded clothing, but: if there's a logo at the back of the neck, it must be centered. If the sides of the sweatsuit have a logo (and I can't imagine what that logo could be if not the three-stripe lines of Adidas), it can be no wider than 8 centimeters.

3. Maximum Color

FIFA decrees that uniforms can have a maximum of four colors, total, and that one of them must be a "dominant" color. And nothing reflective or color-changing.

4. These Are Your Logos

Unlike the sports more popular in the states, soccer is heavily branded. But in the World Cup, only certain logos are acceptable. Just because Nike sponsors a team doesn't mean it can give whatever branding it wants to the uniforms, even if it obeys all those size and location rules. FIFA provides its own accepted logos for brands like Adidas, Umbro, and Puma.

5. Center Those Shoulder Logos

The World Cup is filmed from every possible angle, which means an opportunity for brands as well as an opportunity for FIFA to be, like, weirdly uptight about what those brands can do. Brands like to put logos on kits' shoulders, to be captured by overhead shots. But those logos can't be any more than 8 centimeters in width and must be centered and symmetrical when viewed from above.

6. Do Soccer Players Even Wear Hats?

I don't watch soccer but from extensive confused Googling and consulting with people who do watch soccer, it does not seem like baseball cap-style hats are actually part of any uniform at all. So the fact that FIFA has placed specific limits on the size of logos on these hats--no more than 25cm²--is crazy! Why not make rules about the maximum volume of beer a fan is allowed to imbibe in each sip? Or the cuff circumference of jeans worn by a player's father?

[Image: Fifa World Cup, Spain via fstockfoto / Shutterstock]

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25 Comments

  • Fitri Roslan

    I don't think that all this requirement is crazy. All this helps to make football or in your country 'soccer' a professional sports.

    As a person who involved a lot in sports branding & marketing, I found out that this requirement is a MUST. To make things neat and tidy. To keep it clean.

    There are some points that you have raised, where I think you have misunderstood the point. For example point #4, those logo are not provided by FIFA, but those are examples. If you are a small manufacturer apparel but manage to sponsor your USA National Team, you need to submit your logo for FIFA to approve & you need to register your brand. Some small companies logo tend to imitate the big brand logo, and by register your logo with FIFA, FIFA will advice you whether your logo clashed with any of their sponsor (in this case Adidas), once you got the feedback, you will have to submit another logo, whether you can only use logotype or icon as a replacement.

    Just to let you know.

  • Suzanne Dreitlein

    I'm for it. Keeps things neat and tidy and no questions about what you can't and can get away with. Sponsors are a neccessary evil but no one wants to see a player plastered with logos.

  • Daniel Prime

    Thanks for sharing this interesting article...I'm an experience graphic designer and I'm not surprised with all these strict guidelines, as most of the multi-national companies (including Nike and Adidas themselves) require the designer to follow a set of "pain-in-the-a**" guidelines for their branding, but trust me, it is not fun at all. I have faced similar, if not worse, guidelines from the big clients, which control almost everything in super tiny details, like all of the above-mentioned, even a specific angle on how it should be displayed. Well, in my opinion, all these limitations are challenging but hideous at the same time. After all, design should promote creativity, shouldn't it?

  • Goal keepers occasionally wear hats to shield their eyes from the sun. It doesn't seem to be as prevalent as it used to be be.

    Many of the coaching staff do , too.

  • I stopped reading when you said "soccer". It's the first and only Football! American Football should be called Hand-fight-ball. And that is not a ball! It's an leather/plastic egg. Anyways, good article.

  • Joe Ibern Jr.

    you know gridiron football was based off of rugby football... and when rugby came about "Association Football" was the name given to football, shortened simply to "Soccer".

    But thank you for your input.

  • Trey Eskridge

    Watch 1950s-60s british coverage of the sport and they will say soccer at least once. I guarantee you that

  • Good point. Which is even weirder cause, America is probably one of the few countries that uses feet to measure distances. Anyway, I was just kidding. I love America and like NFL as well. It doesn't matter what is its name. Football is a tremendous sport.

  • Nima Motamedi

    These are not crazy. Companies with the best design and branding strategies are very specific in their guidelines and shows a lot of work and dedication from the designers to be exact and accurate.

    Also, I wish these guidelines were given to clubs because I rather see the club name and athlete name rather than SAMSUNG or EMIRATES as the major design element!

  • Adam Wilkinson

    If they enforced the same guidelines on club teams, we would have to sit through several hours worth of commercial breaks. If you want to give up 90 minutes, of a beautiful game, for TV timeouts and the same advert over and over just to get SAMSUNG or EMIRATES off of a jersey, you won't have my vote.

  • I don't find anything "crazy" about this at all. Consistent branding across all pieces of team collateral is something to strive for. FIFA actually does a very good job of this. These rules aren't "strict" at all, they are clear and concise. They're called "uniforms" for a reason.

  • I'm not sure, but I've got a feeling the word "uniforms" is only used in North America.

    In the UK, and most likely Australasia, and many other English-speaking countries, they are usually called "kits"