A mere cursory look of at the viewership figures of the France-Italy finals in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin would explain why there is such a huge demand for soccer jerseys. That finals match won by Italy via a penalty shootout was viewed by an estimated 715 million people around the world, according to FIFA. The huge number of soccer fans is also the reason why many major sports goods manufacturer practically jump at each other’s throat competing to become the official outfitters of popular national teams or ball clubs.
To the avid fans, however, everything that their favorite teams stand for is the team soccer uniforms. The legendary Argentine football player and who’s now into soccer coaching, Diego Maradona, put this dictum best in the football adage “give everything for the shirt.” Football followers often wear the colors of their favorite teams not only to proclaim support and loyalty. Many fans chose replica soccer jerseys with the numbers of the players that they idolize.
The most treasured of these team uniforms are those jerseys that many popular players throw to the spectators’ stands after their games. In many instances, too, these players auction off their team soccer uniforms for the benefit of one charity, cause, or another. The association of stellar soccer players with certain numbers was made stronger with the wide media coverage which football games have received. Consequently, sports apparel manufacturers picked up on the players’ individual popularity and increased their production and commercial selling of team soccer jerseys with specific numbers and, in many cases, also with autographs of the players.
Cheap imitations of team soccer uniforms–those that were not produced by the teams’ official outfitters–also flood the market. This is particularly so during the major international football competitions, like the World Cup, the Champions League in Europe, and the Copa America in South and Latin America. To the purists of soccer fans, however, there would be no substitute to having genuine items with such brands as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Diadora, Reebok, or Eurosport.
It was around the mid-1980s when the marketing trend of soccer players endorsing certain apparel brands began. This practice further gained momentum in the 1990s with the increased commercialism of soccer uniforms and the rising demand for replica shirts bearing the logos of major football clubs or national teams. Over the years, the materials used in soccer kits have also changed. Starting from cotton in the early years of the game, the favored materials now are lightweight fabrics such as nylon and polyester.