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The new England shirt has what Nike calls a “playful update” to the St George’s Cross
By Sam Hancock
BBC News

The FA has defended the St George’s Cross design on its new England kit, saying “it is not the first time” different colours have been used.

The body said it understood what the flag “means to our fans”, and it will be “displayed prominently at Wembley tomorrow – as it always is”.

It added the fresh 2024 home kit was “meant as a tribute to the 1966 World Cup winning team”.

Earlier, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the flag shouldn’t be messed with.

A row over the latest kit erupted on Thursday, with politicians and sports figures weighing in on the topic.

Speaking to reporters, the prime minister said he preferred the original and the national flag was a “source of pride” and identity.

“When it comes to our national flags, we shouldn’t mess with them because they’re a source of pride, identity, who we are, and they’re perfect as they are,” Mr Sunak said.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told The Sun the “flag is used by everybody, it is a unifier, it doesn’t need to be changed”.

“We just need to be proud of it. So I think they should just reconsider this and change it back,” he said.

The new design, worn by both the men’s and women’s team, takes creative licence with the cross by adding navy, light blue and purple to the traditional red.

The flag traditionally features the St George’s Cross bright red on a white background.

BBC News understands there are no plans to change or recall the shirt.

Defending the kit, a spokesperson for the FA said it had “a number of design elements” that were new.

“The coloured trim on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, and the same colours also feature on the design on the back of the collar,” a statement said.

It added: “We are very proud of the red and white St George’s cross – the England flag. We understand what it means to our fans, and how it unites and inspires, and it will be displayed prominently at Wembley tomorrow – as it always is – when England play Brazil.”

A Nike spokesperson had earlier told media outlets that the kit “disrupts history with a modern take on a classic”.

The new kit was debuted on Friday by England’s younger squad – the England U-21 team played Azerbaijan’s U-21s, winning 5-1.

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