As the world’s gaze descends on Russia for the sporting extravaganza that is the football World Cup, the suits and blazers of Fifa can take a break from scandal, corruption and money laundering to showcase the finest exponents of The Beautiful Game.
Everyone has their own heroes who carry the hopes and dreams of their nation: Argentina have Messi, Brazil have Neymar, while England pray for Harry Kane and Scottish hopes rest on whoever is playing England.
Goalies & Graphics
As well as being a sporting feast, the World Cup represents an evolution of design, with each host country leaving their own indelible mark on history with artwork reflecting their own proud nation. This year, the official poster draws heavily on 1920s-esque postcontructivist graphics and features perhaps the greatest goalkeeper of all time, the iconic Lev Yashin.
Both Yashin and the postscontructivist movement are icons of Russian culture and this poster seeks to reminds the world, as Putin does on the political stage, of Russian prowess and stature. Yashin’s death coincided with the fall of the Soviet Union but here he is, in his pomp and holding the world in his hands… perhaps harking back to a more dominant, confident and respected Russia.
But what of this poster’s predecessors?
Check out below for a whirlwind tour of some of our favourites from tournaments of yesteryear.
Where it all began. A celebration of the global sporting community sandwiched between two World Wars, the 1930 event’s poster is colour, dynamic, elegant and with vibrant, fun typography.
Nowadays, FIFA will come down on you like a ton of corporate bricks if you dare sell unofficial merchandise, eat the wrong fast food or sip on an unapproved soft drink. In the old days they didn’t even have an official logo.
Showing they’re more than just clocks, chocolate and tax avoidance, Switzerland offered up this delightful moment of goalkeeping despair for their hosting of the event in 1954.
Bold. Iconic. Glorious.
Colourful, rythmic and joyous, this poster put national identity at the heart of its message. The artist was Joan Miro, from Catalan, so was the underlying message also one of togetherness and the unifying power of football?
Les Bleus were famously victorious on home soil with a diverse team which reflected the changing, multicultural nation of France itself. Players of Armenian, Senegalese and Guadeloupe descent lined up alongside the mercurial Zinedine Zidane, himself of Algerian parentage, to play their way into the nation’s history books. The poster seems to reflect this vibrant, thrusting energy and diversity with all colours and races packed into one teeming stadium together, framed by the proud blue of France.
Scotland haven’t qualified since that Summer of ’98 and so with tartan petulance, the design journey stops here.
Due to the huge financial implications and expenditure involved, it seems that most future tournaments will see joint hosts and it will be fascinating to see if and how national identity will continue to be incorporated in the poster aesthetic. Not to mention how artists will navigate the corporate sponsor-fest that increasingly is modern football.
But for now, let’s just sit back enjoy the show.