When Cameroon Waged War With FIFA Over Sleeveless Kits

When Cameroon Waged War With FIFA Over Sleeveless Kits

For the most part, football teams have a lot of leeway when it comes to the design of their kits, as long as they have the right badges and colours, leading to a wide range of innovations that changed the kits from bulky thick shirts to elite sports clothing.

However, in 2002, the main governing body for international football ended up banning a national team’s kit for the first and only time in its history, sparking a conflict between FIFA and the national team it badly affected.

At the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Cameroon won convincingly without losing a single game, but the main subject of that tournament was not about their incredible play but the fact they did so whilst wearing a rather unusual team kit.

The Cameroon kit for the tournament was completely sleeveless, with a design and construction more akin to athletic tank tops than a standard football shirt. The CAF allowed it, but FIFA was not happy.

They quickly put it on the banned football kits list, with the justification that the patches for the World Cup were fitted onto the sleeves and so without sleeves they couldn’t ensure a uniform look. After some wrangling Puma, Cameroon’s kit manufacturer added black sleeves.

In 2004, Cameroon got into even more trouble with a similarly athletic one-piece design, which was declared illegal during the 2004 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, with a rule established that a team kit has to have separate shirts and shorts.

Puma and Cameroon protested and wore them anyway due to not having time to get a two-piece kit together in time. FIFA imposed fines and docked Cameroon six points, which led to a battle in court that delayed the points deduction. Ultimately, Puma lost, but FIFA gave Cameroon their six points back.

The team would reach the Knockout Stage, losing to Nigeria who would go on to place third.