Tuesday, 3 July 2012


So, after the Top 10 Club Badges must come those of national teams. Again, these have been evaluated and selected chosen using a methodology as secretive as the recipe for Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce (and with an equally precise apportioning of the relative value of the various secretive criteria) and involving various specialists and institutionally recognised expertises and, y’know, whatnot. So, it’s all very scientific.

Furthermore, the judges are aware that these designs are not fixed but variable – and not just historically, but also according to use: one crest for the strip, another for the stationery… They weren’t bothered.

A wholly meritocratic and forward-thinking selection (ironically, you might say) based on native design talents that are just crying out to be extended to women’s clothing. And men’s. Anyway, what’s not to like here? All green (like their flag); a striking, universal icon in the palm tree; interesting script that’s both bi-lingual and fully anti-clockwise; crossed swords that say ‘don’t fuck with us or we’ll set Saeed al-Owairan on you’; the look of a luxury brand (not beer). Yeah?

OK, I – by which I mean the panel – admit that there might be ‘seepage’ here from the all-round cool reputation of the nation’s futebol, its panoply of languid stylists and the sort of commitment to attack you might see from Chris Gayle in a T20 superover, while their glorious history, present in the five stars (the fabled ‘penta’), might also have influenced the choice. But it does look good. And that is what matters. When it comes to everything.

08: GUAM
Having taken 35 years to beat another FIFA member, they are not, to be fair, a footballing powerhouse, but if they were giving out awards for the elegance of one’s logo then wee Guam would be mixing it with the likes of Spain, Italy, Argentina and Netherlands – in fact, if it were just on the badge, they’d be better! Again, we’re swayed by the palm tree motif, but there’s also something ineffably stylish about this, despite its inclusion of a ball (usually a no-no) and overall air of Cypriot plumber’s business card. Sometimes, it just ain’t logical…

I don’t get why we have to call them Côte D’Ivoire, rather than the English ‘Ivory Coast’. I mean, we use the English for France, don’t we? Also, given the dubious nature of this trade in elephant parts, why are we still calling them – they still calling themselves – by such a reprehensibly literal name? Is Ghana called Slave Coast, or ‘Côte D’Esclaves’ (notwithstanding the fact that it’s not a francophone country, which makes it odd that Desailly wound up over there…)? No, it isn’t. It is like Spain calling itself ‘Bullfighting’. Anyway, yeah, they’re known as the Elephants (not sure how the elephants feel about that), and they’ve thus got some elephants on the quite funky badge, although the trunk disappointingly stops with the initial letter ‘C’.

Maybe not the greatest Eagle – and if it were down to the non-naturalistic depiction of birds of prey (as was the case with the clubs), then Poland, the previous version, would have had a great shout – but the talons are undeniably excellent, the symmetry is as you’d expect, the minimalist reference to the national colours is chic and confident, and there’s absolutely no indication whatsoever that they are ready to crystallize a suicide State pursuing a delirious expansion-unto-death in order to rescue their economy (political and libidinal) from the low-intensity tedium of European austerity, setting history ablaze. None. Although, that tongue is fairly aggressive. And those talons…   

Now, I don’t know a huge amount about Denmark, but I realize that they’re fond of a tattoo (see Agger, Daniel) and their footy badge might lend itself to such a use since it has what design expert Jag Pfeffer called a “runey, Celticy, Dungeons-and-Dragonsy feel to it”. It does. It looks like the sort of stamp you get on the back of your hand at discos. Or a coin, perhaps. “The design flourishes and lightly seriffed twin fonts complement the concentric circular form,” continued Pfeffer. It never looked better than on the classic 1986 Hummel strip.

“Norn Iron”, they call ‘em, and this badge – a Celtic cross – certainly looks as though it would rust if left in a pool of water, alright. It also looks heavy, as though it would do serious damage if it was very hot and shoved hard in your face. A brand, no less, and isn’t that what all design is after? Nice and understated with the shamrocks, too.

Disclosure: there weren’t too many people from President Ahmadinejad’s cabinet in my panel of design experts, but this is still no sympathy vote. For the same reason (i.e. national symbol on flag, incorporated) that Canada – and I’m taking a bit of a punt here – might end up taking the gold, so Israel has to sneak in for bronze. OK, the design isn’t mind-blowing to look at – normally fairly important in competitions judging non-functional design – but it is ingenious, and sometimes you have to applaud ingenuity. Oh, Hebraic script also looks funky.

The break-up of the USSR and the ambition of one of its members in 2002 has given European footballers a taste of the sort of intercontinental midweek commutes routinely undertaken by the rest of the world’s elite (and thus almost exclusively European-based) footballers. The trip to Boltok the Rapist’s homeland is more than a 6-hour jaunt from the Atlantic nations (the Western Kazakh fringes are closer to Vienna than Almaty, the capital), so the very least you would expect when you get there is a decent logo on their kit. And they do not disappoint. Combining the failsafe design element of Cyrillic script (in elegant font, too) with impressionistic animal (the very popular eagle, here soaring), a sun (a.k.a. ‘bringer of life’) and a football bearing the national flag’s hoist side’s Baroque pattern (koshkar-muiz: ‘the horns of the ram’). All in all, this design manages to combine detail while stopping short of overly intricate. The Kazakhs have a crest that puts to shame those of all their fellow Asian former Soviet republics.

So, you’re from a country that has a maple leaf as its national symbol – a national symbol that sits centre stage on its flag (unlike our rose, or their thistle, or their fleur-de-lys) – and you want a logo for your football team, what are you going to do? You are going to keep it monochromatic and maybe select a font that flirts with a gauche futurism that’s not appropriate for your country, but that’s OK because it sort of echoes the shape of the leaves. And it is the best in the world (although this could have something to do with my Mexico 86 Panini; or, even more mysteriously, if the other list is anything to go by, there could be a pattern based on colour and horticultural genera). On that, the panel were unanimous.


New Zealand – the fern symbol is awesome, but the judges felt it wasn’t quite specific enough to football.

Scotland – like Wales and England, there’s an ordinarily quite off-putting heraldic creature on the Scotland crest, but the combination of colours and the thistle motif almost carried the Tartan Army to the Top 10.

Korea – based on the Luxury Perishable Good/Designer Beer Label Theory.

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