Source: Hummel Shop in Vilnius
Unlike the rest of Europe, football isn’t really big in the Baltics. While the Latvians are mostly into ice hockey and basketball and the Estonians thrive in winter sports and their weird national swinging sport called “kiiking”, the Lithuanians are absolutely crazy for basketball.
Unforgotten, their performance during the 2000 Summer Olympic in Sydney, where Lithuania lost against the unbeatable Americans by just two points. In total, they won three consecutive bronze medals at the Olympics and won the EuroBasket three times.
Lithuania’s football record, however, isn’t quite as impressive: zero participations at the EURO and zero participations at a World Cup. Like their Latvian neighbors, Lithuania’s football league has sunken into corruption, completely destroying what once was a loyal fanbase. While they once climbed to a respectable 37th place at the FIFA ranking, the aftermath of the corruption scandal let them plunge down a whopping 111 ranks within nine years. During the EURO 202(1) Qualification, they even finished dead last, only earning a single point against Luxembourg.
The state of Lithuania’s league football is also rather depressing, as I was able to experience at first hand: during the “Clash of Lithuania” (I made that up…) between Žalgiris Vilnius and their rivals from Kaunas – a game that would sell out in minutes, if it were a basketball game – was only attended by a mere 200 “fans”. A beer and some fried bread (the national snack – awesome) in the national stadium even cost me more than a ticket to what I thought was a fierce derby.
Simple, elegant and with many nice details – that’s Hummel’s 2018 design for Lithuania in a nutshell. Especially designed to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of their independence, the shirt is kept in Lithuania’s national colors and features the knight from the countries coat of arms embossed on the bottom of the shirt as well as ancient runes on the cuffs. I was able to buy the shirt while I was in Vilnius for a few days and it only cost me 30€. If you ever decide to visit Vilnius, don’t miss out on their great beer and definitely try their fried bread with garlic, while you stroll around Europe’s biggest old town and afterwards enjoy another beer at Vilnius’ independent “enclave”, the Republic of Užupis.