Why Nike Hasn’t Done Anything Wrong With The St George’s Flag

I haven’t see a flag cause this much upset since… well, actually all of them recently.

Nike released a new football kit with a slightly altered St George’s flag and it’s all kicked off like a fight at a football game. Even the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that Nike shouldn’t mess with it. And if anyone knows about messing up England…

Sir Keir Starmer also said the brand should “change it back”. It’s a rare case of agreement across the political divide but why has it stirred up so much anger?

People feel attached to the flag that represents their part of the world. There’s nothing wrong with this but it elevates a small strip of fabric to a level of importance in people’s lives. Attacking that swatch can cause great offence. You will see people burning flags as a protest over many issues.

If burning a flag is offensive you can see why redesigning a flag might leave people at least a bit peeved.

Sunak said: “When it comes to our national flags, we shouldn’t mess with them because they’re a source of pride, identity, who we are and they’re perfect as they are.”

The St George Cross has a complicating factor that for a while it’s been linked to far-right movements in the UK but refusing to the use that flag after this rather gives into the racists. Don’t let them make the flag synonymous with racists. Besides, it’s also used by a lot of passionate football supporters, which might be two circles on a Venn diagram with some overlap but it’s not a circle.

While the media has been drawn into a debate on the symbolism of the flag and the impact of a national flag being alerted we all seem to forget one key thing; Nike hasn’t altered the flag.

They have added a strange little cross to the back of a football kit but that isn’t the St George’s flag any more. On X, formerly a properly named social media platform, Nike described it as “a playful update” to the flag “to unite and inspire”.

It’s not though. If you draw a six-coloured cross you haven’t done the St George one. It also won’t unite and inspire. Adding purple to a flag is only inclusive if you’re Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies.

If you’re outraged that the England kit no longer has a St George Cross on it, take a look at the winning team from the 1966 World Cup. They were in white and red but at no point do those colours form a cross on them.

All that’s happened here is Nike added a weird multicoloured cross to the new football kit but the St George’s flag remains the same colour it’s always been.

You can buy anything that has the St George's Cross on it and it will still be the correct one. The only thing you can't buy is the new Nike kit and at £124 for adult sizes and £119 for kids that feels like a win.

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