A strip to pay for--warming up for the World Cup
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
The first soccer World Cup I can recall was in
1970 and, memorable as it was for the scintillating skills of perhaps the
greatest Brazilian team to walk onto a football field, it was also notable for
the relative lack of commercialism compared with modern times.
Tracking down a replica Brazil shirt proved
impossible in my part of Britain at that time and the only solution was to
customize a plain yellow top with a blue trim. Suffice to say, the result was
less than satisfactory.
These days, such a task is considerably easier.
The availability of an Angolan or Saudi Arabian top might still prove a little
tough to obtain, but those of the major football nations, such as Brazil,
England, Germany, Italy and, of course, Japan, are likely to fly off the
shelves as fast as a Brazilian free kick hits the back of the net.
If you don't feel like shelling out for a new
shirt, you can go window shopping at an exhibition of soccer strips at Parco
department store's Logos Gallery, near Tokyo's Shibuya Station.
The National Team Uniform Collections is one of a
number of World Cup-related attractions to whet the appetite of local football
fans. The exhibition features the soccer strips and information relating to
some of the teams participating in this year's World Cup.
Among the more notable exhibits are the colorful
strips of teams debuting at this year's World Cup. A team badge is an essential
part of any national shirt but Cote d'Ivoire will mark their first appearance
at the finals by reminding the TV masses of their nickname by brandishing a
large image of an elephant on their tops, while two other African newcomers,
Ghana and Togo, have opted to display depictions of a black star and sparrow
Of the more familiar kits, one major difference
sees Germany adopting red as their change strip.
It is rumored that coach Jurgen Klinsmann would like to see the away kit
upgraded to the side's first choice, which throws up the prospect of an
interesting sartorial role-reversal should they meet old rivals England in the
The exhibition was organized in collaboration with
the publishers of World Soccer Collection 2006, a book about soccer strips that
features a plethora of soccer data. The book, which is on sale at the
exhibition, is mainly written in Japanese but the squad members' names are in
Roman letters and the photographs speak for themselves.
Various soccer-related goods will be on sale at
the exhibition, including T-shirts based on the playing tops of countries
playing in the upcoming World Cup, but no official strips will be on sale.
If all this soccer strip viewing makes you feel in
need of refreshment but you want to remain surrounded by soccer memorabilia,
the Football Park Cafe is one place to head for--and there you can buy an
official soccer strip for the World Cup so long as it's Japan's you're after.
The cafe is located in the Marunouchi building
near JR Tokyo Station, and its enormous photograph of Japan national team
captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto above the entrance leaves you in no doubt as to who
is promoting the place.
Customers can choose to dine either inside or out
on the terrace, surrounded by photographs and memorabilia of the popular Gamba
The cafe has a big screen and several smaller
screens showing soccer action. Like the main event in Germany, the cafe will
close its doors on July 9.
If all this viewing of soccer strips has made you
decide to buy your favorite World Cup soccer strip after all, you'll probably
find it at one of the nation's outlets of soccer shop Kamo along with various
other World Cup-related goods such as bags and keyholders.
People still say that football is only a game but
nowadays there's far more to it than that and the popularity of official
merchandise shows that the commercial side of the FIFA World Cup is alive and
All that's necessary now is for the 32 teams
involved to dish up a spectacle to match the pre-tournament hype and the amount
of cash forked out on World Cup memorabilia.
Now how much was that Brazilian strip?
"National Team Uniform Collections" will
run June 9-22, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. at Logos Gallery in Parco Part 1 department
store, Shibuya, Tokyo, (03) 3496-1287; Football Park Cafe, will be open through
July 9, 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. (until midnight on Thursdays and Fridays and from 10
a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays), in the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station,
Tokyo, (03) 5218-5508; Kamo Sports visit www.sskamo.co.jp.