Whenever we talk about the history of the FIFA World Cup ever since its inception, Germany feature prominently in it. The European powerhouses have won the World Cup four times, the joint second with Italy. In addition, they have also produced some of the best players, such as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Lothar Matthaus, Oliver Kahn, Miroslav Klose and many more.
However, one thing common among all their four World Cup wins, three European Championships, one Summer Olympics gold and Confederations Cup, are their famous white jerseys. Since Die Mannschaft played their first game against Switzerland in 1908, they have sported white jerseys.
But, there is one thing peculiar about the jersey; the white colour is not on the German flag, which has three equal horizontal bands of black, red and yellow from top to bottom. Still, Germany wear white jerseys. So what is the reason behind this choice? We explain.
Why do Germany wear white jerseys?
When the German national team was established in 1899, they decided that the colour of their jersey will be white because it was the colour of the Prussian flag. Prussia was the largest kingdom in the region, whose Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck would later unite all the states to form the nation of Germany in 1871.
The flag of Prussia is white with a black eagle which is also displayed on Germany’s coat of arms. Since Prussia was the largest state at the forefront of German unification, its culture and symbols hugely influenced the newly formed nation. And it had only been 28 years of the unification when the national team was formed.
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Germany would lose the first World War, leading to the end of the German empire and much of the Prussian influence, but the national team nonetheless decided to keep the white jerseys.
However, the history of the Prussian flag is also unique and is a part of a history that dates back to the 12th century CE.
The Teutonic Order
The story of Germany’s white jerseys began almost ten centuries back. It was the time of the crusades as Christian and Muslim kings fought for control of the Holy Land of Jerusalem. This led to the formation of the Teutonic Order, a Catholic religious institution founded as a military society. It was formed in Acre, Jerusalem.
However, in 1887 Jerusalem was besieged by Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi, famously known as Saladin, the first king of Egypt and Syria. Eventually, Saladin captured the city, and the Teutonic order fled to Transylvania, in modern-day Hungary. From there, they would establish the kingdom of Prussia that, at its peak, covered the area from the lands of the Duchy of Prussia on the south-east coast of the Baltic Sea to the Hohenzollern heartland of Brandenburg, with the exclaves of Cleves, Mark and Ravensberg in the Rhineland.
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Prussia was influential for several centuries in Europe and played a crucial role in significant historical events. For example, it was instrumental in defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and later the reunification of Germany. In addition, it would inspire several other revolutions leading to the formation of what is now termed ‘nation-states‘.
And when Manuel Neuer leads Germany into the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he will be hoping his team could win their fifth title to do justice to their kits and the rich history behind them.