Puma, the designers, have come up with a new style of shirt which relegates the club emblem to the back of the collar, well away from the reach of even the most persistent player’s lips. In its stead the team’s name has been spelt out loud and bold across the front. For a moment Gumuskaya looked bewildered, pulling at the shirt in a vain attempt to locate the target of his embrace. He had no time to find it as he then became the centre of a mass pile up of his colleagues who had by now caught up with him to share the celebration (Arsenal fans will not be surprised to hear that Mesut Ozil, these days plying his trade in Turkey, was one of the last to arrive).
Watching the footage on social media, it is distinctly possible that Gumuskaya knew precisely what he was doing. And that his apparent cack-handed response was actually a subtle dig at the shirt’s designers. Because the truth is, they are very silly shirts indeed.
And the sad news is that Fenerbahce are by no means alone in adopting the new look. Puma launched them last week simultaneously across ten European clubs. These are operations who really ought to know better, including Milan, Marseille and Valencia. Plus Manchester City.
The shirts are immediately reminiscent of the knock-off kits available on Istanbul market stalls. A plain T-shirt features the Puma panther and the club’s sponsor’s logo sandwiching the team name. Which is probably only of use if you needed a quick check on how exactly you spell Fenerbahce.
For Manchester City fans in particular, the design is singularly inappropriate. Because, instead of using their full and proper title, it names the club Man City, presumably to fit in the space available. If not quite as egregious a foreshortening as “Notts” Forest, Man City nonetheless needles traditionalist blues, who are always quick to upbraid anyone who uses the term. Their team is called Manchester City, they will tell you. That is the only way to refer to them. It’s the other lot down the road who use the diminutive of the town’s name.
Tradition matters to football fans. Sure, they have got used to the fact that every season, a whole host of new club shirts are launched solely for the purpose of relieving them of their hard-earned cash. But to charge £70 for something that not only relegates the badge to the back but doesn’t even get the name of the team right seems singularly ill-advised.
Though watching Gumuskaya fumbling around after he scored, there is one thing to be said in favour of the new shirt. After all, anything that — however inadvertently — rids the game of the indulgently ostentatious habit of kissing the club badge in celebration of a goal should be regarded as a very good thing.