Color blindness in football: will the ban on the green kit in Serie A make the difference?

Turin’s green jersey in tribute to Brazilian team Chapocoense would not be allowed next season

“It was because of the stripes; black and white versus red and white. I had a hard time telling the difference.”

Former Newcastle United defender James Perch describes what it was like playing Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby as a color blind.

“When you have a split second to look up and pass the ball it can be quite a challenge,” he told BBC Sport. “This game was definitely the most difficult.”

Color blindness, or color vision impairment (CVD), affects males disproportionately more than females. One in 12 men have it, compared to just one in 200 women. For football players, coaches and fans, it can compromise and even spoil an experience they love very much.

Rather than an inability to fully see color, it is a difficulty in distinguishing colors and is also known as “red-green” impairment. These two colors in particular prove to be the most problematic in many cases, but not exclusively.

James Perche footballer
Former Newcastle defender Perch is color blind

Serie A clubs will be banned from wearing green kits next season, except for teams that already wear that color home shirts, at the request of TV companies. They claim that the contrast with the pitch makes the matches difficult for the spectator to watch.

“There are times when the games can be impossible to watch”

“Usually the kits are quite different so I have no problem,” says Tom Harrison, a Preston North End fan from Ealing, London. “But there are occasions when the games can be impossible to watch; red against green is the worst. I wonder when that happens, ‘Why hasn’t this been dubbed a kits match? ? “”

Kieran Maguire is an expert in football finance, and he spoke about his difficulties watching games as a CVD fan. He disagrees that the Serie A decision will solve the problem, as kit clashes remain the most prevalent issue.

“As a color blind, this has never been a major issue with green kits on grass. Players move objects on a static background that are not green, such as skin tones, hair, and shorts. . Green-red is the most common. In the form of the condition, this can also cause problems with other kit clashes. In Euro 2020 it was difficult to tell the difference between Italy’s blue jersey and the pink of the referees.

“I managed to be one of the Arsenal fans in the stadium for the first post-Covid game against Rapid Vienna in November,” recalls Chris Towers. “Arsenal weren’t in great shape so it wasn’t too surprising to see Rapid off to a good start. ‘This group is doing well,’ I thought, then they threw one into the over 30 corner. meters.

“I stayed seated and enjoyed what I had seen, but the Arsenal fans around me stood up and applauded. It was only then that I realized that we wore our away gear for the game and Rapid wore green shirts with white sleeves. I spent 10 minutes thinking they were Arsenal! “

“You don’t feel that color blindness is a handicap”

For Perch, training was where he had the most problems, due to the similarities between the two race number colors. Naturally, in a noisy locker room setting, his teammates were always going to laugh at the situation.

“I had to ask to change my bib, because it was often yellow and green. I would ask for a blue,” he says. “People took the mickey a bit but everything was fun; you would have the usual “oh, what color is the sky?” What color is the grass? When you examine it in depth, it can affect you. It can affect you quite badly, to be honest. “

Expressing concerns can be a real problem for people with cardiovascular disease, as Harrison attests.

“You don’t feel that color blindness is a disability that should be taken seriously. It’s something people take lightly. You think if you asked for a kit change because you are color blind , we would laugh at you. “

“Talking about it is important”

There is no general consensus on what should happen next. But the conversation is growing in importance, especially as fans complained of a clash when Liverpool, in their traditional red, encountered a Manchester United side wearing a green away kit in January. But will the move from Serie A make the difference?

Liverpool v Man Utd
Liverpool’s red vs green CVD fans angry with Manchester United

“It’s progressive,” said Steve Jefferys, Arsenal fan and head of CVD. “It’s good that broadcasters are starting to get ahead of the problem. Color blindness is often dismissed because people consider the impact to be minimal, but it is important to simply talk about it.”

BBC Sport reported on the matter in September 2020, and the actions taken.

The FA aims to raise awareness of the problem and its impact on sport – she published this videoexternal link on Color Blind Awareness Day (September 6) three years ago, to help educate people about the disease.

Towers, however, doesn’t think the Premier League should introduce a similar ban.

“All Premier League clubs and kit makers have to do is make sure they have second and third choice kits that contrast with the teams they visit to make it more accessible. only for color blind fans, but also for gamers. “

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