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Colour Blind Awareness Day: how EURO 2020 provided a clear view for fans

UEFA's policy to consider spectators with colour vision deficiency, or colour blindness, is helping more people enjoy the game we all love.

Italy played in white against Turkey,  as opposed to their traditional blue, to ensure there wasn't a clash with how the Turkish kit appears to those watching with colour vision deficiency
Italy played in white against Turkey, as opposed to their traditional blue, to ensure there wasn't a clash with how the Turkish kit appears to those watching with colour vision deficiency UEFA

This summer's EURO 2020 tournament was one of the most viewed sporting television events of all time, but did you know that UEFA went to extra lengths to ensure more people could enjoy the action?

That’s because European football's governing body worked harder than ever before to avoid the types of kit clashes that might not be noticeable to every fan, but for more than 300 million people around the world, represent an everyday problem.

On Colour Blind Awareness Day 2021, we highlight some of the changes made by UEFA to help tackle a condition which affects one in 12 men and one in 200 women across the globe.

Spain's Jordi Alba in white rather than their traditional red against Italy's Federico Chiesa in blue during the EURO 2020 semi-final
Spain's Jordi Alba in white rather than their traditional red against Italy's Federico Chiesa in blue during the EURO 2020 semi-finalPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

How does UEFA try to limit the impact of kit clashes for colour blind fans?

The aim when preparing playing kits is always to provide a clear contrast between each team for the benefit of the players, officials and spectators. In UEFA competitions we try whenever possible, in consultation with the teams concerned, to avoid colour combinations that could negatively impact colour blind people.

For EURO 2020 matches, we identified ahead of the tournament matches that might have been problematic for colour blind people, and selected, in collaboration with the teams, more inclusive colour combinations.

How Croatia and Czech Republic lined up at UEFA EURO 2020 to avoid a clash for colour blind fans
How Croatia and Czech Republic lined up at UEFA EURO 2020 to avoid a clash for colour blind fans

That is why at the opening match in Rome, Italy wore white rather than blue against Turkey's red, why France wore their change white shirt against Portugal in the group stages, while Spain did the same in the semi-final against the Azzurri.

Another example is the group stage match between Croatia and Czech Republic, as seen in the image above. As the home shirt of Croatia comprises red and white colours, we had to select their black away kit in order to provide a clear contrast against Czech Republic as otherwise it would have clashed against their red home shirt and white away jersey.

Michele Uva, UEFA director of football social responsibility

"Anti-discrimination is an integral policy of UEFA’s Football and Social Responsibility strategy. We are aware that colour blindness is an issue that affects many people around the world, so it is only appropriate that we consider this when staging events and matches.

"We are proud of our work alongside Colour Blind Awareness, a UK-based expert NGO, and shall continue to ensure our matches are as accessible as possible for supporters to view, both on television and in stadiums."

Kathryn Albany-Ward, CEO at Colour Blind Awareness

"UEFA did a fantastic job in ensuring that there were no clashes of outfield players’ kits in the EURO 2020 tournament.

"It’s very heartening to see all of the hard work UEFA has put into removing barriers for colour blind people coming to fruition for the benefit of fans and players. At Colour Blind Awareness we received many messages from colour blind fans who were delighted to see some teams not wearing their expected home kits, since the change in kit colours meant they were able to follow matches which otherwise would have been a difficult watch."

How does UEFA work alongside Colour Blind Awareness?

Colour blindness in football
Colour blindness in football

UEFA helps its 55 member associations work with Colour Blind Awareness to better understand and raise awareness of the issue – be that on the pitch, in the stands or for viewers at home.

Together, we provide important guidance for coaches, information on signage and equipment at stadiums and kit selection advice.

Learn more about Colour Blind Awareness

It is not just organisations like UEFA that can make a difference. We can all do our bit to help make the game more accessible for players and fans alike. Alongside Colour Blind Awareness, we came up with the following tips to help tackle colour blindness at a grassroots level.

Colour Blind Awareness: five tips for grassroots kit success

1 With regards to kit selection, the more colour combinations there are in a kit the greater the risk of a kit clash occurring, while single colour red, orange or green kits should be avoided if possible.

2 A simple way to check if two kits might clash is to imagine how they might appear in greyscale. You can use your smartphone/tablet ‘greyscale’ or ‘mono’ camera settings to check both kits. If they are similar in ‘greyscale’ they are likely to be a ‘colour blind’ kit clash.

3 Ideally one team should play in a dark kit and the other in a light kit. Therefore, when selecting new home and away kits, consider choosing one dark kit and one light kit.

4 If shirts are patterned, ensure the pattern is on the entire shirt and not just the front or back.

5 For training sessions, try to supply both blue and yellow bibs, or one dark colour and one light colour.