Ajax’s ‘Three Little Birds’ jersey as a tribute to Bob Marley banned by UEFA

UEFA have banned Ajax from wearing a ‘Three Little Birds’ design on the back of their Bob Marley-inspired third shirt.

The shirt originally had three birds – in red, yellow and green – sewn just below the back of the collar, commemorating the 1977 reggae classic.

Fans noticed the absence of the birds in Ajax’s 2-0 away win against PEC Zwolle on Saturday, the first time the club wore their alternate kit.

Commenting on the removal of the detail, the Amsterdam club said: “The European Football Association [UEFA] sees it as a different expression of the club logo, clothing sponsor logo, or sleeve sponsor. Other expressions are not allowed.”

The relevant part of the UEFA regulations is Article 7 of the UEFA Kit Regulations.

“Collar area: This area may only contain team identification as per paragraph 19.01. The collar area must be free of any manufacturer identification or sponsor advertising.”

A UEFA statement said: “When the manufacturer presented the Ajax away shirt sample for pre-approval in September 2020, in accordance with normal procedure, UEFA informed them that, in accordance with the UEFA Kit Regulations (Article 19), the birds could not be displayed on the back of the collar area of ​​the team shirt as this area is reserved for team identifications only.

“The three birds being a tribute to the Bob Marley song do not represent an identification of the Ajax team as stated in Article 13 of the Equipment Regulations. Therefore, the display of the birds with the cross has not been approved for UEFA competitions.

“The pre-approval process with manufacturers is designed to avoid any last-minute issues when final kits are sent out for approval, and also allows manufacturers to ensure that proposed designs comply with national and EU regulations. UEFA on the equipment, and if not to make the appropriate modifications before the start of production.

“In this case, the manufacturer was aware that the inclusion did not comply with the UEFA Kit Regulations and had the option of adapting the design to comply with the UEFA Kit Regulations, but it took the decision on this occasion to keep the original design and keep a different version of the shirt for use in UEFA competitions.”

The shirt had been exceptionally popular with fans, with club marketing director Menno Geelen reporting that the shirt had “sold at least four times more than any other Ajax shirt”.

Elizabeth J. Harless