Adidas Stops Customization of Germany Jersey for Fear of Nazi Symbolism

The sports apparel giant Adidas abruptly stopped the sale of German soccer jerseys created with the player number “44” this week because the figure, when depicted in the official lettering of the uniform’s design, too closely resembled a well-known Nazi symbol.

The stylized square font used by Adidas for the jerseys, which will be worn by Germany’s team when it hosts this summer’s European soccer championships, makes the “44” resemble the “SS” emblem used by the Schutzstaffel, the feared Nazi paramilitary group that was instrumental in the murder of six million Jews. The emblem is one of dozens of Nazi symbols, phrases and gestures that are banned in Germany.

The country’s soccer federation, which is responsible for the design, said Monday any similarity to the logo created by the design’s numbering was unintentional.

“None of the parties involved saw any proximity to Nazi symbolism in the creation process of the jersey design,” the DFB, the German Football Association, said in a statement on X on Monday. Nonetheless, it said, “an alternative design for the No. 4” was being created in time for use in the team’s coming games.

Players on the German national team are assigned numbers — and jerseys — from 1 to 23, as required by soccer’s governing bodies for nearly all major tournaments. The German federation said that it had not reviewed designs featuring higher numbers.

But because Adidas had allowed automatic customization of its clothing, a jersey with the No. 44 could — until the company put an end to it on Monday — be ordered by fans using official websites. The ability to add certain names, like “Hitler” or “Führer,” to the customizable shirt had already been blocked by Adidas when the collection went online.

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