German soccer team shies away from cross on jersey

March 22, 2008

German soccer blogs are not a place I usually go to for a story about religion, but an interesting one has popped up on the forum of the Eintracht Frankfurt team. The team let its fans vote over the Internet late last year to pick a 2008/2009 season jersey among 16 proposed models. Despite the fans’ enthusiasm for this innovation, Eintracht has ignored the result and chosen to use the runner-up design. As the team explained on its website:

The Eintracht “cross” jerseyAfter a close examination, we have decided that the winning jersey with the cross unfortunately cannot be used because the symbol on the front has a religious background. Inter Milan, an Italian club with a long tradition, has appeared in the current Champions League competition in a similar jersey and been strongly criticised for it. So after careful consideration, Eintracht Frankfurt has gone back and chosen the second jersey, which came in a close second in the vote.

The Eintracht “eagle” jerseyThe runner-up that came out on top has what Eintracht calls “hints of eagle claws on the front and a stylised eagle on the shoulder”. The city’s coat-of-arms has a red eagle that also figures on the Eintracht team logo.

So why the change? It turns out that a Turkish lawyer (and Fenerbahçe fan) asked UEFA in December to invalidate an Inter Milan victory over the Istanbul team in the Champions League last November because the red cross on the Italian jerseys recalled the Knights Templar crusaders. Shortly afterwards, the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia reported that fake FC Barcelona jerseys were on sale in Saudi Arabia with the crossbar removed from the cross on the team’s emblem. Eintracht doesn’t mention this Christian/Muslim angle explicitly, but it takes only a few clicks to find it.

Eintracht’s fan forum erupted with comments. The main thread on the jersey is up to 1,728 and climbing, many defending the loser as simply a better design. Almost 500 fans have signed a petition against the winner. The religious angle seemed irrelevant to most of them.

Do you think that teams should pay attention to possible religious overtones on their jerseys?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

As an American, I support the separation of church and state. Clearly, professional sports teams are neither church nor state sponsored, but why confuse the issue? Keep jerseys simple and stay away from controversy.

Posted by Ari | Report as abusive

[…] German Soccer Team won’t use fan’s choice of Jersey because it has a “cross”…. Seems clear that not offending Muslims is more important than not offending Christians in Germany. Also seems clear that Political Correctness has run amok in Germany. […]

Posted by German Team say Nine to Christians — | Report as abusive

Do you really feel that way German Teams Say Nine? Its nein, by the way. Though I do feel it is a silly choice, as a cross is one of the most common symbols or designs in the world, its not as though they are offending Christians by not having the cross. Its going to be removed in favor of a neutral design, not a star and crescent. So you see they have chosen something that should offend no one. The only reason a Christian should feel offended is if they previously knew the cross design might have been on their and felt they deserved special treatment.

Posted by Bryan | Report as abusive

[…] German soccer team shies away from cross on jersey [Reuters Soccer Blog] […]

Posted by Pitch Invasion » Links » It’s in the (inter)net! March 24 | Report as abusive

Lets hope they ban the players from crossing themselves as they run on the pitch! Shame on them! What about the nazi-esque eagle? Lets hope the Jewish Community doesn’t get offended!!!

Posted by Terry Hibbitt | Report as abusive

Just because your American, Ari, doesn´t mean your opinion is better. What has been American got to do with it? Why do Americans want the whole world to know they´re Americans? You should be worrying about your own citizens shooting school kids before worrying about others. Religion should be tolerated by all. If it´s accidental or intentional, so what? Freedom of speech and all that jazz. We are near the point where we will get punished now for insulting or harming ourselves.

Posted by Jonny Goldberg | Report as abusive

In that case Portsmouth FC should be banned from having a crescent moon on its jersey.

It’s all PC madness.

Considering that Christians and Jews are not permitted to display religious symbols in Muslim countries then Muslims should not have the right to tell us what we can do.

A nice big red cross on the England jersey please. It is the national symbol, or are we going to get rid of the flag of St George as well as Britannia from our coins?

Is there a special symbol for “middle class people are idiots”? I’d like to wear it.

Posted by James Butler | Report as abusive

How absurd! I didn’t even see a cross until I read this article and looked at the jersey again. The voters should have gotten what they voted for. Too many people in today’s world are a bunch of whiners who are offended by almost anything. Get over it!

Posted by Evelyn | Report as abusive

The Germans should stand up for there choice, what ever happened to freedom of speech, first an article, then a cartoon, now a football top!. What next? don’t get in the way of the truth, someday we will all find out.

Posted by Mario Schunck | Report as abusive

It’s just yet another incident where noone sees anything wrong with the design till a muslim decides it offends him that it isn’t his religious symbol used instead. I quite agree that it is PC taken too far, since the cross is an every day symbol and in case of a soccer club uniform clearly not meant to be religious.
Sadly this madness of doing everything to not offend muslims is quite common in Europe, Germany in particular.

Well in answer to your “what next” question, it is no longer allowed to mention an offender’s nationality/cultural background(immigrants) in news reports. At the same time this same cultural background is used in court as a reason to lessen the verdict. Welcome in Germany, where the constitution(everyone is equal) is worth less than not offending immigrants or reporting the truth.

Posted by lils | Report as abusive

i think the designation right own to the team, they can do any design if they don’t encroach the copy right of others. but in the fact, the design should be accepted by the fans of their team

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive