The unbeautiful logo

I recently watched a video clip of the Oasis guitarist, Noel Gallagher, talking about “his favourite world cup moments”, writes Michael Johnson. Somewhat surprisingly, his first thoughts about the 1978 tournament were about the logo

I recently watched a video clip of the Oasis guitarist, Noel Gallagher, talking about “his favourite world cup moments”, writes Michael Johnson. Somewhat surprisingly, his first thoughts about the 1978 tournament were about the logo…

Having admitted that he could barely remember 1974’s tournament, he then proceeded to analyse, in forensic detail, the Argentinian finals four years later. Now you might have expected chatter about great goals, flowing hair, the tightness of Mario Kempes’ shorts, military juntas, ticker tape celebrations, sinking the Belgrano, and all that. And they all came up (well, maybe not all of them). But before any of that, his first comment about this world cup? He really loved the logo.

I looked it up. There it is, above. It does have a sort of clear, simple charm. You can see how it would leave an impression on a football mad 11 year old Mancunian (although the colour match to the strip of his beloved Manchester City is a bit of a give away). But seeing the compelling, clunky logic of a design from 30 years ago compels you to Google-image a few more.

So what do we get? Well, we’re about to see a lot more of this one – straight out of brushstroke central, to be parked straight back there once its lease has expired. But at least you could say it’s marginally better than this shocker from the last tournament.

If you look back, it’s amazing how few you remember. Mexico has had two goes at it and neither fare so well. For the older of the pair, they obviously had some Letraset left over from Lance Wyman’s Olympics scheme of two years earlier.

The 1966 date might be ingrained on English memories (the one and only victory) but few will remember this badge.

Parked over in a pile marked ‘completely generic and instantly forgettable’ are ones like these – Germany ’74 and France ’98. That’s WM for ‘weltmeisterschaft’, in case you were wondering.

I always quite liked Woody Pirtle’s mark for USA ‘94 (clever mix of balls, stars and stripes)…

…but always suspected someone else put this type on when Woody went out to lunch, or when he wasn’t looking.

Perhaps grudging respect should go to Spain’s offering from 1982. Movement? Flag? Ball? It could have been worse.

Oddly, and again perhaps because of relative English success/tragedy (semi-finals, Gazza, tears, penalities, more tears, etc) the Italia ’90 mark and its mascot feel as though someone cared, a least a little.

I can only presume that the 2002 design for Korea and Japan is meant to be some sort of vague reference to the re-designed Jules Rimet trophy, since this motif crops up again in the last German and now South African marks as well…

…hence exacerbating the recent whole less-is-a-bore, I’ll-go-for-more aesthetic that pervades the designs for most modern sports tournaments and Olympiads.

But now for the good news. The weird wiggly person plus ball thing? It’s been dropped for the next tournament. 1-0. And the tournament is in Brazil. 2-0. You know, five-time winners and everyone’s second favourite team. Game over.

The bad news? The logo looks like this.


How is it that ‘the beautiful game’ never gets a beautiful logo?

This article originally appeared on Michael Johnson’s Thought for the Week blog. Reposted with permission.


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