Bundesliga club Cologne get into the carnival spirit by clowning around with the launch of a new kit

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Bundesliga club FC Cologne have unveiled their special Karneval kit for 2020, not with any of their players but rather enlisting a lone clown to give fans an uplifting message of hope when there will be no of public celebrations in the streets of the city this year.

Go to: Classic Carnival Kits

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to inflict isolation on the world, people remain barred from places where culture and sport provide an escape. In Germany, Bundesliga matches returned behind closed doors for November, and local authorities had no choice but to cancel the carnival season (known as the unofficial 'fifth season' of the year. ), which was scheduled to open at 11:11 a.m. on November 11.

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On this day, no matter how gray the sky is, thousands of people gather in the city of Cologne, one of the Karneval hotspots in Germany, to paint it in the most vivid colors and let the cruelties of everyday life behind. Since 2013, some of those on the streets of Cologne wore the latest 1.FC Cologne carnival kit, designed and released especially for the occasion.

With no real carnival season this year, FC Cologne continued the tradition by launching the latest kit this week, with a moving video of a clown walking through empty streets and hitting empty city pubs. .

“Imagine you've lost your smile. This year there will be no flowers. There will be no dancing, ”says the narrator as the“ last clown ”seeks happiness in life and waits for the pandemic to pass. “The good times will return. But this year you are the only one: The last clown! And you are smiling now. Your colorful heart beats until the end, ”he says as the clown dances in the void RheinEnergieSTADION of FC Cologne, to reveal This year's iconic carnival kit to bring some joy in the weirdness that filled the arenas this year.

“We celebrate Karneval alone, together,” the narrator signs after the exquisite details of the kit are revealed. Inspired by the Lappenclown costume, a classic Karneval , it includes 11 symbols associated with Cologne and its famous annual party. From the Kratzchen , the traditional jester hat, to the Dom , Cologne's iconic cathedral. Gold emblems on the bottom of the jersey and on the sleeves complete the design, which has been described as “terribly ugly” by sections of the club's fans on social media, “but that's what the law requires”.

Although the club have different kit makers over the years, Dennis Steimel has designed every carnival kit since their inception.

“You can't deny that there is a certain cult character there, all but one of the jerseys were top sellers,” Steimel told ESPN. “But it is really difficult to put the connection that the inhabitants of Cologne have with the club, the city and the carnival. It's unique. This is the famous Jefohl (sentiment).

“German football regulations are not that strict for special kits, and every year we can let our imaginations run wild. The city crest will always be in the middle of the chest, and some features like the Kratzchen are recurring. “

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Football at all levels has been hit hard financially by the pandemic, but Bundesliga clubs have not forgotten their communities and that others are suffering more outside their relatively protected bubble. FC Cologne is no different, and they will put € 1.11 for each kit sold to charities and help promote cultural projects in the region.

“We've already sold over 3,000 shirts on day one – that's a record,” Cologne chief executive Alexander Wehrle told ESPN. “Cologne is the carnival capital of Germany and millions of people from all over the world come here to celebrate. But all this cannot happen in the midst of the pandemic and after much consideration we have decided that we want to support the kit this year as well. It has become a tradition for many fans and an expensive collector's item.

“We know others have been hit harder by the pandemic than football. Especially the cultural scene. And with our donation, we wanted to give a small example of solidarity. ”

Cologne's famous carnival kits have been worn in at least one match of every bar in the carnival season since their introduction. Each year the club bases the design on a Karneval slogan, the first being: “ Zokunf, mer spingse wat kutt (future, let's see what happens). “But Cologne has long been deeply attached to the local carnival.” At a carnival we hosted 70 years ago, a circus director gave us our heraldic animal Hennes, a real goat, ”Wehrle added. “His successor [Hennes IX] lives in the Cologne Zoo and, before the pandemic, was in our stadium for our matches. “

Cologne are not the only club to distribute a kit for the “fifth season”. Higher on the Rhine, in the city of Mainz, Karneval becomes Fastnacht but the concept remains the same. Since 2016, the club have launched a Fastnacht kit every January and 2021 will be no different, again in defiance of the pandemic.

Mainz will continue to have a say in the design and hope to get lucky as they, like Cologne, fight relegation from the top tier. Here are some of the most memorable carnival kits the two clubs have released in recent years:

Cologne 2015

This controversial kit was hardly ever used, as it was launched in October 2015, but Cologne decided not to wear it in their match against Mainz just days after the November 13 attacks against Paris in the France game. -Germany at the Stade de France. Instead, Cologne sported it the following January when hosting Stuttgart.

Cologne 2016

A rather simplistic design with the city of Cologne emblem filigree on the jersey and the slogan “when we see our children we are speechless” encrusted in the neck. The contours of the Cologne Dom and the Kratzchen can be seen near each shoulder of the jersey.

Mainz 2016

Mainz adopted the seasonal icon of the jester's cap for their very first carnival kit.

Cologne 2018

Perhaps the best to date, this jersey kept the club's colors, sported all the classic elements and the slogan “ Uns Sproch es Heimat (our language is at home). “

Mainz 2019

Mainz jersey sponsor Kommerling has been replaced by the slogan “ Unser Traum Lebt (our dream is alive)” to remind that Mainz was playing its 10th consecutive Bundesliga season in 2018-2019.

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