Now that all 32 participating teams have released their 2014 World Cup kits, it's only right that they get a highly subjective judging from the balls.ie kit consultant. A misspent childhood meant that I saw more action in the 'edit team' section of various video games than I did sculling flagons beside local waterways, or actually becoming good at said games. As a result, I am qualified to pass comment on kits to a laptop-butting but unerringly accurate, PhD-level extent.
Do let us know what you think of the rankings. It's all very much in good fun, and reflective of how I feel about this stuff in general. Spain '82 and Mexico '86 are gone forever, but the kits and general ambiance of those tournaments will always colour my idea of what the perfect World Cup should look like.
In the event of a tie, sides with interesting away shirts were treated favourably. Anyway, enjoy the jersey nerdism and get involved in the comments.
32. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Straight out of the adidas 'stock Sunday league kit' catalogue. Change the crest and it could be worn by literally dozens of national teams with no imagination.
Looks uncannlly similar to Ireland's Euro '88 jersey, which would be good if it was Ireland's kit. As somebody who tends to favour nostalgia-friendly stuff I'm generally an adidas fan, but the two-tone green approach is nauseating.
I can't decide whether the leopard motif makes Team Melli's forgettable design look more or less like something they could have worn when Ireland played them in 2001. Either way, that can't be a good thing.
29. Costa Rica
Looks like the work of a bored teenager with too much PES 4 playing time under his belt.
If you want to know how to design a jersey that is simultaneously soul-crushingly dull and unnecessarily cluttered, well here you go.
27. Ivory Coast
Just plain uninspiring. Great, great crest, though.
Very USA '94 - which was fine in 1994. You should see it in full-kit form - not great at all. The away jersey, though, is absolutely fantastic.
It's hard for Greece to have anything other than a totally forgettable jersey. Maybe they should think of going with hoops or stripes or something. Looks like something the coaching staff would wear.
Ranks ahead of Greece's similar offering because the 'H' emblem is quite unique and wonderfully retro. Compare with this picture of the great Mágico González in the national shirt of neighbouring El Salvador.
No need for flag and crest to be jammed together. Away kit is OK - a luminous yellow isn't for everyone, but it works for Japan.
Dull, dull, dull. Better than the godawful yoke they wore last time, though. However it won't be nearly as memorable as how they debuted on the world stage in '82.
Inoffensive, subtle, and right to persist with their old-school 'celestial blue', with black shorts and socks. Would've been kinda nice if they'd gone with the traditional red away shirt, but this one is fine. too.
Bit tennis shirt-y, but it looks good in full kit form. The fairly odd second option is like a training shirt or a Korea jersey, but it's certainly not boring.
19. Korea Republic
Speaking of Korea jerseys...
I don't want to be too hard on the use of traditional patterns, but imagine for a second what an Ireland jersey would look like if Umbro went all-out with Celtic knots on next year's design? It would be Riverdance, gift-shop stuff. This needs to stop.
See above. They rank better than Ghana and Iran because Cameroon's flashy threads are seared into everyone's image of what the World Cup is all about. It's great to have them back on the big stage but leave the patterns out of it - the lion over the heart and the colours themselves are all the uniqueness required.
Argentina should rank higher, because they still persist with retro-friendly stripes in a world of all-whites and all-blues, but they drop back a few places thanks to the faded stripes and the news that they'll ditch their familiar black shorts under pressure from FIFA, who want to see as much single-colour kits as possible. The spoilsports.
A real love-it-or-hate-it design, but they'll always have check shirts of some description. This version is hard to criticise too heavily. Totally fine.
The revelation that La Roja will wear all red in Brazil is disappointing - their traditional combo is an ugly but endearing red-blue-black. It's not a bad jersey in its own right, but this is a kit ranking. Also that away jersey is nonsensical. Generally speaking, counter-intuitive colours for national team away kits is to be welcomed (except this time), but black and dayglo yellow is just lazy. White or navy please.
Ranks ahead of Spain's near-copycat design because all-red with gold trim has become a recent norm for the Russians, and their second jersey couldn't be more appropriate in a stereotypical, "sure it's always winter in Russia" kind of way.
England wearing all-white in a Latin American World Cup is nothing new - see 1962 and 1970. More of the same here.
This would rank lower were it not so wonderfully suited to still-exotic Ecuador - the obscure brand, slightly outdated design and accommodation of all three national colours. This is a fine example of what an underdog side should sport on the big stage.
This may look similar to the low-ranked Greece kit, but it will be a fine retro effort if they go with the traditional tricolore of white shorts and red socks. They probably won't, though.
An almost-full return to the traditional dark red is to be welcomed, along with a revival of the long-dormant white second short with blue trim. A decent mix of the modern and the traditional.
A classic Latin American design, nothing too jarring or flashy, but with a unique collar and subtle piping. The old-school crest is class too.
Good work by Nike. Harks back to the Aussies' World Cup debut in 1974, and should receive less negative press than their 2006 design, which was hated by fans for not sticking to the traditional combination.
As we discussed before, the Red Devils are fully deserving of a strong ranking here, but will they live up to the hipsters' hype where it really matters?
This should rank lower because of the awful FIGC crest, but this is a fine example of how to make a collared football shirt in this day and age, and you know the Azzurri will wear it with such style.
Really solid, uncomplicated, stylish effort. Reviewed in these pages here.
A better version of Ecuador's approach - both shirts hark back wonderfully to Colombia's 1990 World Cup campaign, while still retaining a modern feel despite coming with new-look white shorts and socks. Excellent work by adidas.
This is fantastic, but I can't fully explain why. Mainly I think it's because they've worn basically the same kit for years and the change is refreshing. In addition, the chevron... thing is reminiscent of their futuristic 1990 and woeful 1994 kits. We'll probably look back in twenty years and think this was awful too, but for now it kinda suits where this team is at - fresh, forward-looking and justifiably confident. It also goes well with their equally tradition-bucking all white but I still wish they'd keep a bit of it by going with a green second jersey. Can't have everything I guess.
When you think about it, Brazil's yellow-blue-white is a bit ridiculous and doesn't really suit any other team, despite all the attempted imitations, but it's such an integral part of the World Cup experience that when it's done properly, as Nike have done this year, it's almost impossible to beat. We shall see if the same can be said of Seleçao themselves this year, but if they do come out on top, they'll look the part in either kit.