Adidas bans number 44 from Germany football kits over Nazi ‘SS’ symbol

Adidas has banned Germany football fans from personalising shirts with the number 44 amid concerns it resembles the symbol used by World War Two-era Nazi SS units.

The Nazi party’s Schutzstaffel group, commonly known as the SS, was a paramilitary organisation of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and ran concentration camps during the Holocaust.

And the German football federation has now stopped delivery of shirts with the number ordered via its online platform and is looking for an alternative design for the number 4 with its partner, 11teamsports.

The federation said the designs were submitted to the Uefa Champions League during the process of designing the jersey.

"None of the parties involved saw any proximity to Nazi symbolism in the development process of the shirt design," the German Football Association (DFB) said on X, formerly Twitter.

Concerns that the shirt’s design meant the number 44 resembled SS were first raised by historian Michael König, who said the design of the kit was “very questionable”.

“Historically it is very questionable to allow such jerseys for the home European Championship,” he said.

Adidas spokesperson Oliver Bruggen said the resemblance was not intentional and that the federation and 11teamsports were jointly responsible for the design of the names and numbers on the shirts.

"People from around 100 countries work at Adidas,” Mr Bruggen said. "Our company stands for the promotion of diversity and inclusion, and as a company we actively campaign against xenophobia, antisemitism, violence and hatred in all forms.

"Any attempts to promote divisive or exclusionary views are not part of our values as a brand,” he added.

The newly released kits had already sparked a debate in Germany over the choice of pink away shirts, purported to celebrate the diversity of the country.

The stylised, slanted SS symbol remains banned in Germany. It was designed in 1929 and became emblematic of some of the most egregious atrocities committed by the Nazis. Members of the SS were tasked with overseeing concentration camps, interrogating suspected traitors, and operating extermination camps like Auschwitz, where over a million individuals were killed.

It comes as Germany is slated to host the European Championship from 14 June to 14 July.