Several Important European Soccer Typefaces

Douglas Desroches

There are hundreds of soccer leagues and teams throughout the world.  Certain leagues use certain typefaces.  For example Adidas created several typefaces for sports, the Italian leagues and the England National team have their own typeface for their jerseys.


Since the 1970s Adidas has pioneered the use of bold numerical designs for football jerseys.  The Drei Streifen typeface is inspired by Adidas’ “Three Stripes” motif, which has been frequently used on its shoes and clothing since 1949.  Yomar Augusto is the creator of Unity, a custom alphabet he designed for Addidas. Yomar emerged from a new generation of designers and graphic artists in Brazil.  Yomar Augusto said, “There was a lot of refining and crafting, but since the basic drawing came from Adidas the partnership was really good, also because we collaborated so closely. Originally the typeface was only meant for the shirts. Only afterwards was it decided to implement it as well for all communication, print, film, and screen. This meant we needed to create different character sets, a lower case version, and all the required glyphs. The project grew and grew, both in size and ambition, to become the fully featured digital typeface it currently is.”


The type and logo design agency designed Puma, used for the soccer shirts in Italy.  The Italians use the Gaffer typeface, which was created by sticking gaffer tape to form a full Roman alphabet and set of numerals.  It was created by London design, GHB in and Dalton Maag.  It has been used by Puma on their shirts since the African Cup Of Nations in 2011 and will be used until it is replaced for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.  It was inspired by the use of gaffer tape in grass roots football to tie up goal posts and keep shin guards in place.  The starting point was to buy 150 rolls of tape and to fold, rip and stick the tape into shapes.  Once finished, all the European accents were added.  The finished result is a typeface, which stands out on the pitch for its legibility and brevity.  It also comes in lower case, 3D and speed versions. The 3d version was designed specifically for Italy.  Although the gaffer font is consistent across all Puma sponsored teams, a distinction is drawn between the African teams who are classified as ‘speed’ teams and the European teams who are classified as ‘power’ teams.  The silhouette of the font remains the same, only the style within the shape changes the 3D numerals are unique to Italy, since they’ve won the world cup four times.


England’s kit, designed by Umbro, led by Rob Warner.  Umbro tried to recreate effects such as making letters appear three dimensional while actually being flat. By creating the letter from two tones, it also reflects the stripes in the collar and cuff areas.  The final design was tempered slightly by UEFA and FIFA regulations though.  In terms of weight and in limited surface they will appear naturally be condensed.




Published by Douglas DesRoches


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