It's World Cup release after World Cup release and this time, it's Puma and Italy getting in on the act. Gli Azzurri have unveiled not one but both of their kits for the summer tournament with Volfango Bondi, General Manager of PUMA Europe, FIGC Vice President Demetrio Albertini, Italian National Team manager Cesare Prandelli, captain Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, and Marco Verratti doing the honors.
The shirts are "inspired by the heritage of the traditional Italian handcraft industry." The shirt is slim fit, making use of a new technology from Puma called PWR ACTV. The tech is a combination of compression materials and athletic taping that runs throughout the shirt's interior. The taping, named ACTV, is "strategically placed within the garment to provide micro-massages on the skin, working with the human body to help maximize performance and provide players with a faster, more effective energy supply to the active muscles." While I personally have not had the opportunity to test the statement, I can confirm that it feels really cool.
Make no mistake about it, when Puma say that the shirt uses compression materials, they mean it in every sense of the word. The shirt offers a very tight fit for the athletes throughout the torso, aiding performance. Fans will have the option to purchase tops with a more traditional fit.
The home shirt is, of course, blue and has plenty of Italy-centric detail. The collar features one button right at the neck-line, opening to a very shallow V when unbuttoned. The polo collar motif runs 1/4 of the way down the chest but is there for the hand-crafted look and doesn't open. Inside, however, is the flag of Italy, running up the neck. The sleeves also bear the flag motif, appearing on the bicep for short sleeve top and at the wrists for the long sleeve version.
The away kit is a stark white take on the home top, ditching the collared neckline for a straight, shallow V. The Italian flag inserts are replaced with Italy's traditional blue. There are pinstripes that run vertically up and down the top with the colors of the Italian flag mimicking that motion around the abs. All in all, it's a pretty well-done effort from Puma.
Speaking about the new top in a Puma press release, Gigi Buffon said:
"I'm impressed with the new Italy shirts, the design is strong and has a true Italian feel. The new PUMA PWR ACTV tape technology is going to ensure that we are physically equipped to perform at our best. It's a really nice touch that the shirts will go on tour around Italy for the nation to show their support for us. When the tour concludes, we will have a great symbol of support as we leave for Brazil and prepare to make Italy proud."
Mario Balotelli would add:
"Our National team has a great challenge ahead of us and we are preparing to represent our country and make our fellow Italians around the world proud. Touring the shirts that we will take to Brazil is a great idea and knowing they represent the support, belief and passion of our fans is inspiring. Italian supporters motivate us to perform to our best and I hope many Italians will visit the PUMA Celebri-Amo La Maglia Tour and pledge their support."
Finally, Volfango Bondi, General Manager of PUMA Europe commented:
"We have worked together with the FIGC to develop a new kit for Italy to wear at the World Cup that meets the team's needs both in terms of design and performance. The new PUMA PWR ACTV technology that has been integrated into the shirt is our latest performance innovation and will enhance the player's natural power and help them optimize their performance on the pitch in Brazil. This technology is something we've been aspiring to bring to our national teams for some time now, and we can see the clear benefits it brings. The Italian National team will travel to the World Cup with our pride and support, and we fully believe they can achieve great things."