Every four years, the countries with the top soccer programs in the world meet up to determine who has the best squad at the World Cup. This isn’t just a showcase for athletics, but also for fashion. Each country has a unique kit that they wear, with some of them quickly becoming fan favorites worldwide. Because of this, countries do their best to stand out and have their kit recognized globally.
When teams don’t play it “safe” it can sometimes look gaudy and have people making fun of them either in the moment or years down the road. Then, there are those kits that end up being timeless classics. Let’s take a look at the history of the World Cup and discover the five best country kits that have been worn (in no particular order).
Argentina (Multiple Kits)
There’s one country that hasn’t really made major changes to its World Cup kits over the years, and it’s Argentina. The Argentines have won the World Cup three times, with the first coming in 1978 when the country hosted. They took home the title again eight years later in Mexico, then had Lionel Messi establish himself as the greatest soccer star in the world when they won in Qatar in 2022.
When you think of Argentina at the World Cup, you think of the white and blue vertical stripes that make up their jersey. Made to look like the nation’s flag, Argentina’s kits have been largely untouched for more than a century. While the ‘away’ kits have had some changes for each World Cup, the ‘home’ uniforms are a classic that the country can (and frankly shouldn’t) change.
United States (1994)
The United States hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1994 just four years after qualifying for its first World Cup since 1950. The United States had been known more for football, basketball, and baseball, but the 1990s saw an emergence in the soccer program. When the country hosted in 1994, it decided to have a unique kit to really stand out.
The blue tops were adorned with large white stars with “USA” emblazoned on the left breast. When combined with the red shorts, it was truly a star-spangled kit for the Americans. While it was considered “tacky” years later, it has now come around to being fashionable again. The kit turned out to be a good luck charm for the US, too, as the nation had its best World Cup finish in 44 years.
When you’re using a color like neon green, you have to make sure that you get the kit right, otherwise, it’s just going to be an eyesore. One of the greatest examples of neon green done well came in 2018 when Nigeria wore the color for the World Cup in Russia. For Nigeria, it was just their fifth World Cup appearance, but the kits made an impression.
Nike designed the uniforms and had a lot of inspiration from Nigerian culture. “We wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation,” designer Dan Farron said. “We built this kit and collection based on the players’ full identities…We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion, and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture.” Sadly, the team didn’t make it past the group stage, winning just one game.
Mexico is one of those countries that some people might be surprised to learn haven’t been beyond the quarter-finals of a World Cup. It’s true, though, as they’ve reached the final eight just twice (1970 and 1986). It hasn’t been for a lack of appearances, though, as Mexico has made the World Cup in all but just a handful of years.
The country has been dressed for success, however, and that includes their top kits from 1998 in France. The kit featured a Mayan-inspired design and the country’s signature green, white, and red colors from the national flag. Mexico reached the round of 16 at the World Cup but got knocked out by Germany.
Up until 2006, Australia had almost no history at the World Cup. They weren’t a member of FIFA until 1966, and even then, they had just one appearance (1974) until 2006. Australia has fared much better since then, making each World Cup and advancing past the group stage twice. The first of those two occasions was indeed 2006 when they unveiled their amazing kits.
The design was simple with mostly solid yellow tops and green shorts, but something about it just went together very well. The Socceroos still wear the colors that all of the nation’s sports teams wear, with green representing the forests while yellow (gold) represents the beaches and minerals.