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FIFA clarifies jersey rule after German protest

FIFA clarifies jersey rule after German protest

FIFA on Thursday sought to clarify a rule on jersey numbers that caused an uproar in Germany after some players switched numbers for Wednesday's friendly against Belgium.
Germany said it was lodging a protest against the rule, after interpreting it to mean that only numbers 1-11 can be used for the starting lineup and that no names of players can be printed on the back of the jerseys.
Such a rule would force players like Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack to switch from his normal No. 13 _ a jersey worn by thousands of youth in Germany _ and could hurt merchandising sales.
However, FIFA said Thursday the Germans have misinterpreted the rule, which was passed in July 2007. The FIFA rule book states that teams playing in qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup _ and the tournament itself _ should use the numbers 1-18 for its squad.
"The staring 11 does not necessarily have to wear numbers 1-11," the statement said.
However, the German starters in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Belgium wore only 1 to 11, with no names on the back. The national team's general manager Oliver Bierhoff said the team was respecting the FIFA ruling.
"It's a throwback to the 1970s, 1980s," Bierhoff told German television before the game. "We lodged a protest before this game but it was rejected. We'll try once again and we hope other federations will join us. ... It's bad not only for our fans but for our merchandising as well."
FIFA said Thursday there were no regulations for the numbers worn during friendlies.
Still, the rule is a change compared to the 2006 World Cup and this year's European Championship, when players could wear numbers as high as 23. While Ballack _ who missed the Belgium match with an injury _ is not affected by the change, striker Lukas Podolski would have to switch from his usual No. 20.
FIFA said using personalized jerseys with names was optional and up to the teams.
More than a million national team shirt replicas with names and numbers were sold this year, the German football federation said, with those of Ballack and Podolski among the most popular.
Adidas, which supplies shirts to the German team and which is also one of FIFA's official partners, said it would discuss the issue with the national team.
"At the moment, we cannot say what influence it will have on our business," Adidas spokesman Oliver Brueggen said.


Updated : 2021-03-08 09:46 GMT+08:00