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Adidas stops sales of number 44 jerseys over Nazi likeness

Wesley Dockery
April 1, 2024

The design of the number 44 German national team jersey looks similar to the logo of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS). The similarity has set off controversy and finger-pointing. Jersey number 4 will also get a redesign.

A screenshot of the number 4 jersey on the German Football Federation (DFB) website
The "4" design drew controversy among German users of social media sites such as X, with "44" looking like a banned Nazi symbol Image: https://www.dfb-fanshop.de/

German athletic apparel giant Adidas said Monday that it would stop the online sales of the number 44 German national team jersey due to its likeness to a Nazi symbol forbidden in Germany. 

The font design for the 44 jersey, as social media users have noticed, bears a resemblance to the "lightning bolts" insignia of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS)

The SS was a paramilitary organization that assisted Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's rise to power. The SS helped carry out the deliberate murder of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

The public display and dissemination of the SS symbol is banned in Germany and can be met with criminal prosecution. 

The design of the number 4 on the German jersey will also be changed due to its resemblance to a symbol used by the Nazi Hitler Youth organization.

Adidas blocks personalization of jerseys, condemns antisemitism

Adidas spokesperson Oliver Brüggen told German news outlet DPA that it was not the company's intention for such a similarity to occur. 

"We will block the personalization of the jerseys in our online store," Brüggen said.  

As of Monday afternoon, personalizing jerseys in the Adidas online store with one's own name and number was no longer possible. The German Football Federation (DFB) also halted the deliveries of number 44 jerseys from its online shop.  

Adidas blamed the DFB and its partner 11Teamsport for the fonts of the names and numbers on the jersey. 

Brüggen told DPA that "as a company we actively oppose xenophobia, antisemitism, violence and hatred in any form."

"Any attempts to promote divisive or marginalizing views are not part of our values as a brand," he added.

Holocaust survivor Irene Shashar shares message of hope

DFB says new '4' design in the works

Meanwhile, the DFB told German newspaper Bild that it was working with 11Teamsport to develop a new number 4 font design, which would require the approval of the Union of Football Associations (UEFA).

DFB press spokesperson Franziska Wülle told the newspaper the process of developing the controversial design. 

Wülle said the DFB "granted a license for its 'Name and Numbering' to '11Teamsport' for six years. Our colleagues at 11Teamsport have developed their own typography for the new jersey and coordinated it with the DFB."   

Wülle said the parties involved in the number 4 design process did not see any Nazi symbolism at the time. 

No Germany player has worn a number 44 jersey, and the team's shirts for the 2024 European Championships are numbered from 1-23. Players have worn jersey numbers 4 and 14.

Material from the German news agency dpa contributed to this article.

Edited by: Sean M. Sinico