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What are the Stars on Football Shirts?

What are the Stars on Football Shirts?
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What are the Stars on Football Shirts?

Aficionados of classic football shirts will notice that certain design elements are shared by a wide variety of kits throughout the ages. Most of these will simply be fashionable stylistic choices, from bold colours to eye-catching stripes - but others will have a more specific significance.

Many teams throughout the years have featured stars on their jersey. The look of these stars may vary depending on the specific shirt design - some feature a gold or silver star above or around the team crest, while others may feature stars incorporated into the crest itself. However, the meaning is largely the same - namely, that each star represents a significant achievement in the team's history.

Here, we'll take a look at the rules surrounding the use of stars on football shirts, as well as some of the most famous teams who have included stars on their jersey as a means of celebrating historic success.

What are the rules and conventions for teams who wear stars on their shirt?

Stars are added to the jerseys of football clubs and national teams to mark major tournament victories, landmark achievements and multiple league titles.

The convention was introduced in 1958 by Juventus, who received permission to add a gold five-pointed star to their shirt to mark their 10th Serie A league title victory. It has always been a tradition in Italy for the defending champions to feature the small Italian flag-themed scudetto shield on their shirts for the following season, and the gold star was added by Juventus to commemorate a then-record 10th title won.

Since then, the convention has become hugely popular around the world, both at club level and internationally. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • For club teams to mark 10 title league titles, with each star representing 10 league championships
  • For teams to mark individual European Cup or UEFA Champions League titles
  • For national teams to represent their FIFA World Cup victories

However, there are no standardised international rules for how and when teams can display stars on their shirt. As such, different national federations will apply their own guidelines, leading to significant variations in what a star represents, and when the number of stars will increase:

  • In Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, football clubs will earn stars on their shirt for every 10 league titles they win. Turkey has a similar system, with teams earning a star for every five league titles.
  • In Germany, Bundesliga sides will feature one, two, three, four or five stars on their jersey to represent three, five, 10, 20 and 30 Bundesliga titles, respectively.
  • In Major League Soccer in the US, silver stars are used to represent each MLS Cup win and gold stars represent five league titles, in addition to one silver star incorporated into a scudetto-style badge for defending champions.
  • In international football, FIFA allows all winners of the men's or women's FIFA World Cup tournament to add stars on their jersey to represent each World Cup they have won.
  • Nations such as England and Spain do not let football teams wear stars on their jersey at club level - some teams create special commemorative kits featuring stars, but these are not worn during matches played in domestic leagues.
  • Other nations such as France and Scotland have no formal system in place at all for how stars are used, meaning teams are free to choose how many stars they display, and what achievements these are used to represent.

Famous examples of teams with stars on their jersey

Because of these sometimes contradictory rules, many teams around the world now play with stars on their jersey - but the meaning of these stars will vary depending on which country they are from, and how they have chosen to interpret the rules!

Here are just a few examples of teams that have famously worn stars on their shirts - and the reasons why:

  • The Brazil national team plays with five stars on their jersey, marking their record-setting five victories in the FIFA World Cup. Italy and Germany have four stars each to represent the fact they have both been world champions four times.
  • The Uruguay national teams (both the men's and women's team) also have four stars on their shirts, despite having only won the FIFA World Cup twice. This is because two stars have been added to represent the nation's two Olympic football tournament victories, which Uruguay won in 1924 and 1928, long before the inauguration of the World Cup tournament!
  • Other nations choose to wear stars on their shirt to mark non-FIFA tournament victories, such as Egypt, who wear seven stars on their jersey to mark their seven Africa Cup of Nations wins. Because these do not conform to FIFA guidelines, these stars are removed when they are playing in official FIFA tournaments such as the World Cup.
  • The US women's team wears four stars on their shirts to represent their four wins in the women's edition of the FIFA World Cup - more than any other women's team.
  • No side has more stars on their shirts than Argentinian club side Boca Juniors, which added a star for every title won since 1970. The team now has 72 league titles, but the club badge - which has the stars incorporated into the design - has stayed at 52 stars.
  • As an illustration of the variable rules around stars on shirts, Glasgow giants Rangers have five stars on their kits for winning more than 50 Scottish league titles. City rivals Celtic could technically do the same - but they wear only one star, choosing to commemorate their 1967 European Cup victory instead. Meanwhile, Aberdeen have two stars on their shirt, representing their 1983 Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup double.
  • Although English league sides are not permitted to use stars on their shirts in the traditional sense, many sides find ways to do so in their own way, usually by having the stars incorporated into the badge design. Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest have featured stars in their badges to mark their historic European Cup triumphs, while Huddersfield Town have included three stars in their badge to show that they were the first English side to win three First Division titles in a row, from 1924 to 1926!

Get your star-studded retro kits from TOFFS

If this history lesson has whetted your appetite for a retro football shirt emblazoned with commemorative stars, you can purchase any of the kits listed above from TOFFS, or browse our huge range of retro football jerseys from throughout the ages!

Here are just a few examples of some of the shirts we sell that feature stars in their designs:

We stock a massive selection of retro replica shirts specially manufactured to recreate the aesthetics and designs of years gone by, manufactured by hand here in the UK using 100% cotton. We have shirts representing football clubs from around the world, as well as some of the greatest national teams of all time.

Take a look at our complete range of football shirts here!

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