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No hidden messages on t-shirts during this summer’s World Cup

Mar 1, 2014, 10:07 AM EDT

Galatasaray's Didier Drogba from Ivory Coast salutes soccer fans as he wears a jersey in sign of respect for Nelson Mandela before their Turkish League match with Elazigspor in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. AP

The International FA Board decided on Saturday that players in the 2014 World Cup will be prevented from displaying personal messages on t-shirts worn under their official kits.

Writing messages on t-shirts, then lifting the kit after scoring – or simply stripping off the top shirt for photos taken after the game – has long been a favorite for soccer players looking to express themselves. Sometimes it’s a birthday message, or a congratulations to a new mom. Sometimes it’s a bit more political, like Didier Drogba’s recent thanking of Nelsen Mandela, or Adem Ljajić using his shirt to wish a happy Ramadan. And sometimes the shirts are just funny, such as when Dimitar Berbatov‘s bore the message “Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball.”

But whatever the message, it won’t fly in Brazil. “From now on there can be no slogan or image whatsoever on undergarments even good-natured ones. This will apply from 1 June and be in force for the World Cup,” said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

And although it’s not been explicitly stated, you have to think this rule extends to players not being able to paint their bodies with some sort of sweat-proof formula that allows them to display slogans on their skin. But just watch: for the 2018 World Cup, players will be prevented from lifting their shirts to display tattoos.

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