Germany may have triumphed on the pitch, but today we’re concerned with crowning the champion of a more esoteric field. Which World Cup country wore the best crest? The criteria for ranking each nation’s badge of honor is the quality of graphic design, uniqueness, suitability for sport, its rendering on the shirt, and how well it conveys an aspect of national identity.
The Crème de la Crests:
1. England: Nobel Laureate David Trimble, appearing in a Visa World Cup ad, trotted out the cliché that “sport is a continuation of war by other means.” While it may be a strained analogy it does account for the origin of England’s iconic badge. The three lions have been used as the national symbol since Richard the Lionheart’s 12th century reign. Each lion came from a royal union by his father Henry II and great-grandfather Henry I. The crest conveys history’s grand sweep while specifically representing an enduring national identity. A few years ago the F.A. needlessly added the word “England” in a horizontal bar above the badge. It’s gone now and whether on their crisp whites or iconic reds, this simply rendered badge with the immediately recognizable imagery lets you know that “This is England.”
2. Germany: This diesel Eagle flexing his buff wings could double as an Axe body spray logo but its proud display of strength befits the four-time champions known as Die Mannschaft. The crest rates among the best because of its perfect composition. The intense imagery is barely constrained by a stark black roundel subtly highlighted by the bright German national colors. This year’s shirt puts those colors to great use in a chevron that livens up their normally staid look.
3. Brazil: When Charlie Finley changed the colors of his Kansas City Athletics to green and gold, 14 of the other 19 teams in Major League Baseball used red, blue, or a combination of the two. Soon enough, the bold green and gold came to stand for the most fun, and most dominating, team in the bigs. Somewhat similarly, Brazil ditched their white shirts for their now legendary look after their disastrous 1950 World Cup final loss. Brazil’s better take on the Portuguese cross, ringed by five stars and rendered in the sport’s most distinctive colors, visually defines o jogo bonito.
4. Ivory Coast: Their official crest isn’t nearly as clever as the one that appears on their shirts. It’s friendly look features an adorable elephant whose trunk cleverly curls to be the “C” in “Cote d’Ivorie” while holding a vintage ball aloft and constrained within an outline of the country. To appreciate how well done this logo is compare it to the similar Thai football logo. Adding to its appeal are the national colors of a bright, light green paired with orange.