چهارشنبه 18 تیر 1393
Now that the World Cup is nearly over, the Guardian fashion desk has had time to reflect on some of its finest fashion moments. Thierry Henry's cardie, France's collars, Joachim Löw's exceptionally full head of hair. But one question has haunted us since the tournament kicked off in June. Why the long sleeves?
In Brazilian heat that reaches 30C and requires cooling breaks, why would any player opt for more sleeve? Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini and Antoine Griezmann are just some of the players who have eschewed the option of a short sleeves on offer. And when Rooney lifted up his shirt to mop his brow, is that a vest we spied underneath?
"Three layers – T-shirt, tracksuit and wet top," said Roy Hodgson, in a press conference before the tournament began. To get his players acclimatised while training in Portugal, they did "sweat testing" by layering up. "The logic behind layering is to get comfortable with that feeling of being hot and struggling," said Leighton Baines. Sure, sure. But what about once the World Cup proper started, why not take it down a layer or two?
"Moisture-wicking technology," explains Tim Stedman, who works in brand marketing for Puma. "Years ago, players would get drenched in sweat and their kit would become very heavy. But wicking technology enures that your kit doesn't absorb the moisture, thus the performance is not inhibited." The wicking pulls sweat away from the body, and it evaporates quickly.
Puma is behind the kits for, among others, Italy, Switzerland, Chile, Ivory Coast and Algeria. "We tested apparel in European and South American climates to find a universal solution that works in different climates," Stedman explains. "A tight fit can improve the oxygenation of muscles, and that improves stamina. (Sleeves) are tapered to the skin and some players just like it more." Stedman also suggests that superstition can be the defining reason that a player opts for long sleeves over short. If they had a great game in long sleeves, they'll stick to that come what may.
Adidas have their own vaguely amusing jargon: ClimaChill. "ClimaChill technology is designed to provide advanced cooling by using titanium materials make the kits the lightest they can be," says Holger Valtin, director of global kit design at Adidas. "Temperature control and weight are the two aspects that all players comment on when we test new products with them prior to release."
Would that explain the layering? "Some players opt to wear a base layer to provide extra support rather than for warmth," explains Ben Goldhagen, senior PR manager at Adidas. "In the absence of a base layer, some players choose a vest or T-shirt, as the material that football shirts are made from can sometimes cling when playing in hot or humid conditions. For Adidas-sponsored federations (Colombia, Nigeria, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Russia, Japan, Bosnia and Mexico), we supply base layers which are designed to be both breathable and lightweight, but to also provide core support, for example across the back and mid-section to allow players to turn quicker and with more comfort whilst running."
All this technology makes it sounds as though the right sleeves might be better than bare skin. "I think eventually this will (be true), especially with cooling technologies and new breathable materials becoming more common place and constantly evolving," says Goldhagen. This will become imperative in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where temperatures can reach 45C. "I think that the heat of World Cup tournaments played during the summer months will almost force this issue in years to come, as players continue to look for effective solutions to perform during extreme conditions."