Controversial St George’s cross obscured in England Under-21 Euro qualifier

Harvey Elliot's turned up collar

Harvey Elliott has become the first player not to display the new England kit’s multicoloured St George’s Cross amid a growing revolt against it.

The Liverpool midfielder took part in his country’s European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan on Friday with his collar turned up, thereby hiding the controversial flag. The match in Baku was the first time a team representing England had worn the new kit, which was released by Nike earlier this week.

The senior men’s team will wear the new strip on Saturday night at Wembley, in a friendly against Brazil. Gareth Southgate, the England manager, is expected to address the issue in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.

A source later told Telegraph Sport Elliott had been unaware his collar had been turned up.

England kit with stripy St George's Cross
England will wear the new kit for the first time on Saturday night in a friendly against Brazil - Daniel Leal/Getty Images

Earlier on Friday, England supporters said they want changes to the St George’s Cross on the team’s kits to be outlawed under a new independent football regulator.

Amid a growing row over the multicoloured cross on the Three Lions’ new shirt, fans have called for the national flag to be added to the list of heritage items protected by statutory regulation under the Football Governance Bill.

The Bill, launched this week, already prevents teams changing the colour of their main strips or the design of their crests without consulting supporters but, crucially, does not cover flags.

It also only covers clubs, meaning the Football Association is exempt from having to engage with fans over the design of England kits. The FA brought in similar rules in the summer of 2022, from which it is also exempt.

Dave Beverley, a veteran member of the England Supporters Travel Club, told Telegraph Sport that needed to change.

“I think any shirt design should be put to the fans,” he added, saying he did not agree with the multicoloured cross on the Nike-designed kit. “Can you see them doing the Stars and Stripes in multicolour?”

England Band leader John Hemmingham, who branded the new cross design “a little bit much”, said: “It’s probably a good idea to consult before changing a badge or a crest or a flag.”

Mark Palios, the Tranmere Rovers chairman and former FA chief executive, also backed such a move, adding: “The mood music in the room is exactly that.”

Palios, who led the FA between 2003 and 2004, said he would have been able to veto any England strip designs when he was in charge.

“In my day, it was presented to me,” he said. “But I would have already taken the steer from the team that were involved around the whole issue of the kit. I wouldn’t necessarily have interfered in it.”

It was denied on Friday that possible similarities between the colours used in the cross and those appearing in various flags representing the lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities was anything other than co-incidental.

Any link with the ‘One Love’ rainbow armband Fifa banned Harry Kane from wearing at the 2022 World Cup had already been rejected.

An FA spokesperson said: “The new England 2024 home kit has a number of design elements which were meant as a tribute to the 1966 World Cup winning team.

“The coloured trim on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, and the same colours also feature on the design on the back of the collar. It is not the first time that different coloured St George’s Cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts.

“We are very proud of the red and white St George’s Cross – the England flag. We understand what it means to our fans, and how it unites and inspires, and it will be displayed prominently at Wembley tomorrow – as it always is – when England play Brazil.”

Nike, who produced the kit that sparked the backlash, have said: “The England 2024 home kit disrupts history with a modern take on a classic.

“The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blues and reds topped with purple.

“The same colours also feature an interpretation of the flag of St George on the back of the collar.”


Nike must learn some things are sacrosanct – starting with the St George's Cross

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