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EURO kits: which colours are the most successful?

Red shirts will be worn by over half of the 24 teams taking part in UEFA EURO 2020: are they lucky? And how about shorts and socks?

Orange-shirted sides have a 100% record in EURO finals
Orange-shirted sides have a 100% record in EURO finals Popperfoto via Getty Images

When comes the selection of colours for a match, a clear contrast is important in order to provide the best possible match experience and distinctions between the attires, for the benefit of players, officials and spectators.

UEFA.com took a look inside the kit rooms of past EURO winners to see which colours are most likely to bring success at UEFA EURO 2020.

Which shirt colour has been most successful in EURO finals? 

Italy in 1968 (trust us: those shirts are blue)
Italy in 1968 (trust us: those shirts are blue)Getty Images

Red is the most successful shirt colour in EURO history with six sides winning the final wearing red, but six red-shirted sides have also lost in the final, creating something of a final dilemma for the 13 sides that have qualified for EURO 2020 who have a red home top (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, North Macedonia, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales).

Blue (four wins, three defeats) and orange (one win, no defeats) are the only shirt colours with a positive record in EURO finals. With a 40% success rate, white-shirted sides have won four EURO finals, but lost six.

Does the addition of shorts and socks change the formula?

UEFA.com’s kit colour working group divided the 30 teams that have reached a EURO final into their 90 component items – shirts, shorts and socks – and came to some startling conclusions.

Red is neutral (11 winning items, 11 losing items), blue (11 winning items, seven losing items), white (15 winning items, 20 losing items) and orange (three items, all winners). Thus, wearing orange in the final would seem to be a guarantee of success: a discovery that could alter our understanding of European football.

EURO final winners by kit colour

Shirts: red (6), blue (4), white (4), orange (1)
Shorts: white (6), blue (4), black (3), red (1), orange (1)
Socks: white (5), red (4) blue (3), orange (1), green (1), black (1)

EURO final runners-up by kit colour

Shirts: white (6), red (6), blue (3)
Shorts: white (8), black (4), blue (2), green (1)
Socks: white (6), red (5), blue (2), yellow (1), black (1)

Will the EURO colour spectrum be broadened at EURO 2020?

Croatia: red, white or a bit of both?
Croatia: red, white or a bit of both?©AFP/Getty Images

Only seven colours have been worn in EURO finals so far: white, red, blue, orange, black, green and yellow. None of the teams that have qualified wear colours that deviate from that basic set (unless they have any exciting away kits planned). It could be interesting for chromatologists if Croatia make the final. Their checked kit is unique in European international football (indeed, they are the only national team in Europe to play in a bichromatic shirt). Should they reach the final, a special UEFA.com chromatology summit will be held to decide whether their shirt should be classed as red, white or a bit of both.

Are away kits luckier than home kits in EURO finals?

Five teams have played in EURO finals wearing their away kits: Spain (1964 – red to blue), Yugoslavia (1968 – blue to white), Soviet Union (1988 – red to white), Italy (2000 – blue to white) and Greece (2004 – blue to white), with Spain and Greece feeling the benefit.

It has been suggested that Greece chose to wear their white away kit rather than their usual blue top in the 2004 final (they did not need to, since there was no clash with final opponents Portugal’s colours) because it brought them luck in their 1-0 quarter-final win against France. However, UEFA.com’s Greece correspondent Vassiliki Papantonopolou detected a pattern in their EURO 2004 finals games, suggesting that Otto Rehhagel’s side simply wore their away kit in every other game at the final tournament.

Should teams change their national flags to bring them EURO success?

Five teams have played in EURO finals wearing shirts with dominant colours that do not appear in their national flags. It has been a relatively successful tactic, with Spain (1964, blue), Italy (1968, blue) and the Netherlands (1988, orange) all winning, though the USSR (1988, white) and Italy (2012, blue) both proved it was not an infallible system.

Berni the 1992 EURO mascot with a Denmark flag
Berni the 1992 EURO mascot with a Denmark flagIcon Sport via Getty Images

Vexillogical consultants, however, have noted that crosses in national flags have been a guarantee of EURO final success so far, both Denmark (1992) and Greece (2004) feeling the benefit. Of the sides booked to feature at EURO 2020, Denmark, England, Finland, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland all have flags featuring crosses, and other teams may be tempted to persuade their governments to make a change to their national insignia should they reach the decider.

What colours kits have EURO finalists have worn?

1960: Soviet Union 2-1 Yugoslavia (aet)
(Red shirt, white shorts, white socks v blue shirt, white shorts, red socks)

1964: Spain 2-1 Soviet Union
(Blue shirt, blue shorts, black socks v red shirt, white shorts, red socks)

1968: Italy 1-1 Yugoslavia (replay: Italy 2-0 Yugoslavia)
(Blue shirt, white shorts, blue socks v white shirt, white shorts, white socks)

1972: West Germany 3-0 Soviet Union
(White shirt, black shorts, white socks v red shirt, white shorts, red socks)

1976: Czechoslovakia 2-2 West Germany (aet, Czechoslovakia win 5-3 on pens)
(Red shirt, white shorts, blue socks v white shirt, black shorts, white socks)

1980: Belgium 1-2 West Germany
(Red shirt, black shorts, yellow socks v white shirt, black shorts, white socks)

1984: France 2-0 Spain
(Blue shirt, white shorts, red socks v red shirt, blue shorts, black socks)

1988: Soviet Union 0-2 Netherlands
(White shirt, white shorts, white socks v orange shirt, orange shorts, orange socks)

1992: Denmark 2-0 Germany
(Red shirt, white shorts, red socks v white shirt, black shorts, white socks)

1996: Czech Republic 1-2 Germany (Germany won on golden goal)
(Red shirt, white shorts, blue socks v white shirt, black shorts, white socks)

2000: France 2-1 Italy (France won on golden goal)
(Blue shirt, blue shorts, red socks v white shirt, white shorts, white socks)

2004: Portugal 0-1 Greece
(Red shirt, green shorts, red socks v white shirt, white shorts, white socks)

2008: Germany 0-1 Spain
(White shirt, black shorts, white socks v red shirt, blue shorts, blue socks)

2012: Spain 4-0 Italy
(Red shirt, blue shorts, red socks v blue shirt, white shorts, blue socks)

2016: Portugal 1-0 France (aet)
(Red shirt, red shorts, green socks v blue shirt, blue shorts, red socks)