With less than eight weeks to go until the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 tournament kicks off in England, Nike has begun spotlighting its home and away kits, and honestly, the men's design team should start taking notes for Euro 2024.
Finally, women's football is getting the love and respect it deserves. There's no hiding the uncomfortable truth that the women's game has been largely pushed aside and played second fiddle to male leagues over the years.
Across the board, a real lack of equality has been painfully obvious to see – from a lack of funding and broadcasting deals with major television networks, hugely disproportionate prize pots for major tournaments, and countless cases of misogyny and sexual assault allegations.
These barriers even existed within video games, with women's teams first appearing in FIFA '16, 13 years after the gaming franchise first debuted.
Despite all of the obstacles that women have had and continue to overcome, they've gone above and beyond to show the world the level of skill that they bring to the game, demanding the respect they so rightly deserve.
Over the last couple of years, we've begun witnessing some meaningful change; funding increases, bigger exposure for the ballers on the pitch, further investment in training, female referees at the World Cup for the first time, and more eyes on the game than ever. As of April, all tickets for England's group stages and the Wembley final have sold out, with the semi's not far behind. With all of these eyes (and pockets) directed at female football stars, the sportswear brands backing them have had no choice but to take notice and step up their game.
With the amount of money pumped into kits season-to-season and the complete market oversaturation of kits in general, women's apparel has gone massively overlooked. Still, now their styles are far exceeding those of men's teams, at least at the international level.
Although EURO 2022 feels like a distant memory cemented in heartbreak, I fondly remember plenty of the kits. England's was great, simplistic; but the central badge placement really irked me – why, why, why?
The Lionesses kits, however? Flawless.
Nike's unveiling of the England squad's kit is deserving of all the praise. The home kits metallic crest and Swoosh really set off an otherwise understated jersey – and the away kit? That could easily be one of my favorites of all time.
It's not all about England though... France and Netherlands' offerings are just as worthy of attention, bringing their home nations' energy, culture, and spirit through some subtle (and not so subtle) aesthetic choices.
Personally, I'd love to see some of these kits shared by the men's teams going forward. Although it may not catalyze bigger-scale institutional changes to bring both genders' teams in line, it would serve as a symbolic gesture of equality between the two, and make a small dent in our current unsustainable kit culture.
The Women's EURO 2022 tournament kicks off in London this summer, with the first game between England and Austria kicking off on July 6 at Manchester's Old Trafford.