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On Thursday, the British press confirmed what we’ve feared for a long, long time now: the football boot industry has lost its mind.
Luis Suarez will soon debut a brand new “knitted” boot—the first in history of its kind—as he takes to the field looking super suave, super hip and super comfortable.
The Adidas PrimeKnit is the maiden shoe of its kind, comprised in its entirety of knitted material (in addition to the studs on the bottom) and will set you back a monstrous £220 (RRP)in March 2014.
I’ll be present at St. Mary’s Stadium as the Uruguayan trots out on Saturday, March 1st and will be able to notify you if he’s wearing Adidas’ proud new creation. How will I tell? Simply ask if he looks ready for football, or ready for bed.
After all, what was wrong with the old style boots? Sure, they clunk about and hinder technique a little (a lot), but they kept your feet safe and helped you kick lumps out of the opponents’ shins.
That was the point of football back then, wasn’t it?
Boots have evolved so rapidly over the past 20 years they’ve become an arena for unnecessary experimentation and one-upmanship; a battle-ground between elite brands as they vie for control of a hotly contested market.
Kids and young pros are simply too happy to throw hundreds of pounds at a new concept every time its released; it’s a self-defeating prophecy that encourages the designers to push the limits even harder each time.
The result has been multiple “new-age” designs, new materials being trialled and new shapes taking form. The death of the black boot is but one of many casualties in the wake of a boot-themed revolution in sports.
And yet somewhere along the way, it appears we’ve forgotten just why the old 1930’s boots were so darn tough: protection of the feet and its many, many bones.
As boots get thinner, the injury list mounts yet higher; the number of metatarsal injuries is rising and a lack of protection across the top of the foot is a major reason as to why.
I ask myself: would I want to step onto that pitch and play with 21 fellow professionals in slippers? No. Does that boot that Suarez will soon debut look exactly like a slipper? Why yes, yes it does.
Count me out then.
Each boot will, apparently, be tailored and customised to Suarez’s feet to ensure maximum snugness, but this isn’t new. It could lead to more golazos and eye-popping, weaving dribbles, but it will further expose him to the risk of serious injury.
Nike’s Mercurial range consisted of thin plastic akin to that of a 100-year-old decaying bin lid. Take a stud to the top of the foot in those and they won’t do a thing for you.
But who cares? Theo Walcott and Gabby Agbonlahor reliably inform us, via TV commercials, that they can make you run even faster. Who wouldn’t want that?
Suarez’s boots will be a joy to play in..until someone steps on his toe.
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I yearn for the renewed integrity of the football boot and all of its former, black, stable, protective glory.
Written by Sam Tighe
You can also follow him on Twitter @stighefootball
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