BERLIN – The German Football Association (DFB) announced on Monday that it will redesign the font used on its football shirts after comparisons were made to a Nazi symbol, which is banned in Germany.

Parallels between the number 44 and the SS rune of the Nazi paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel – comparable to two lightning bolts – were first drawn on social media last week. The SS was the unit most responsible for overseeing and managing the Nazi crimes against humanity, including the genocide of 6 million Jews.

None of the parties involved in checking the figures “saw any proximity to Nazi symbolism in the creation process of the shirt design,” the DFB said in a statement about X.

“Nevertheless, we take the comments very seriously and do not want to provide a platform for discussions. We will develop an alternative design for the number 4 and coordinate it with UEFA.”

The DFB’s comments follow a decision by German kit manufacturer and homegrown sportswear brand Adidas to block the customization of national team jerseys on its online store earlier on Monday.

The company “resolutely rejects any suggestion that this was our intention,” Adidas spokesman Oliver Brüggen told German media on Monday. “Any attempt to promote divisive or marginalizing views is not part of our values ​​as a brand.”

Before the #44 controversy, a number of Nazi-related terms had already been banned by the personalization service.

Germany’s national shirts have been no strangers to national headlines in recent weeks as the country prepares to host the UEFA Euro 2024 football tournament this summer. Critics claimed last month that the team’s new bright pink and lilac away kit is not traditional, while advocates say the colors represent diversity.

The DFB’s recent decision to end a decades-long partnership with Adidas in favor of US sportswear giant Nike as a kit supplier also caused an uproar – even in political circles.

German business magazine Handelsblatt reported that Nike will pay the cash-strapped DFB more than $108 million a year between 2027 and 2034, double the reported annual value of the Adidas deal.

German Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck denounced the Nike deal, saying he “would have liked some more local patriotism.”

“I can hardly imagine the German shirt without the three stripes,” said Habeck.

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