No sponsors, numbers on the front, all those distinctive symbols and patterns. National team football shirts are quite unique indeed. They are also a great way to get familiar with world flags, since the tops are normally imbued with the national colours. 

Only “normally” though, as in some cases shirts have nothing to do with the country’s flag.

Let’s start with 3 European giants. Italy, Germany and the Netherlands all play in colours that are not in their flags. Why “gli azzurri” play in blue? Because when the Italian F.A. was founded, the country was still a monarchy and the colour of the royal family (Savoy) was blue.

“Die Mannschaft” adopted the black and white from the flag of the pre WWI state of Prussia.

And finally, as the nickname “Oranje” suggests, orange is the national colour of the Netherlands and a tribute to the royal family: (House of Orange-Nassau).

In Asia we have Japan who chose to play in blue after a victorious match against Sweden in 1930. Superstition at its best!

Also Malaysia’s kit is quite unusual: black and yellow. It was not inspired by Wiz Khalifa’s big hit but it’s meant to represent the colours of a tiger, the national animal.

Australia in Oceania has a yellow kit. A reference to the national tree, the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha for the Latin speakers). A large tree with yellow flowers.

A boozy nickname for Venezuela “la vinotinto” (the red wine) due to their unique burgundy shirt. Here the reason why such colour was picked is not really clear. The colour of the army? A way to distinguish themselves from Ecuador and Colombia? or they simply just liked it? 

The last example of a flag-shirt mismatch is in the Middle East, in Kuwait, and yet again it’s a bit of a mystery. The national team plays in blue which is probably an homage to the sea and the country’s great history in sailing looking for pearls.

(By @365FootballShirts on Instagram)