What Happened to Black Football Boots?

Can you spot the difference between these two images?

On the left is Brazil’s 1994 World Cup winning team, on the right last year’s semi-finalists.

brazil 94brazil 14

While the recent shirts may be a little tighter and, of course, David Luiz’s hairstyle remains unique, the main contrast between the two teams is their footwear.

World Cups often prove to be chrysalis moments for the future of football. They are the test arena in which new tactics and laws of the game must pass the ultimate scrutiny.

With only seven out of 352 players at the 2014 tournament wearing black boots, it becomes clear that a paradigm shift has occurred.[1]

In the space of twenty years, black football boots have disappeared from the feet of professional football players.

So,why has this happened?

Arguably, it is due to decisions by marketers to increasingly target products at ‘football obsessed teens’ (FOT’s).

(credit: )

The FOT is defined as someone who is ‘style-conscious and highly social’ and who ‘covets expensive gear, consume huge amounts of branded content, and looks their heroes and what they wear as their primary purchase driver.’ [2]

Black boots don’t meet the demands of this group: if they’re going to spend £100+ on shoes, they need to be recognisable, unique, and by consequence, flashy.

Colourful boots get more social and on-pitch recognition, essential for the players who wear them and the intention of marketers who sell them.

A common complaint about modern football is that the spirit of the game has been crushed by commercialisation.  The trend in football boot colours could be used to support that argument. A cynic might claim that the modern Brazil team’s boots were designed in the boardroom.

But in an age in which individuality, self-expression and (for some) narcissism is hugely amplified by social media, is it no wonder that black, indistinct, boots have disappeared from the feet of players?

Nike are expected to release the sixth iteration of the Tiempo, the boot worn by the 1994 team, sometime in December this year.

Our prediction: they won’t be black.


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