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PHOTOS: The World Cup Is A Spectacle Not Only Of Sport, But Of Style

The Iranian team arrives at Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport last week.

Soccer is not only "the beautiful game" — it's also a highly fashionable one.

Before the World Cup even started, the breakout winner of football fashion was Nigeria. With the Super Eagles' classic green turned into jazzy zigzags by Nike, its jersey became a highly anticipated item not just for soccer fans, but for streetwear hypebeasts.

Long queues formed outside the Nike store on London when the kits went on sale June 1, and they sold out immediately online.

More overlooked has been the Nigerians' style off the pitch. Check out the team en route to Russia, looking suave in white fedoras and green-tasseled loafers.

You'd be forgiven for confusing the tarmacs in Russia for a catwalk in Milan. If there's one thing we remember every four years, it's that sporting men in matching, well-tailored suits make an impression. Man buns optional, but encouraged.

Take the Iran squad, for instance.

Or Cristiano Ronaldo and Team Portugal.

And Iceland, World Cup rookies.

FIFA, never shy around sponsorship opportunities, made a deal with Louis Vuitton to design a carrying case for the World Cup trophy.

Just before kickoff at the opening game on Thursday, Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova was there to introduce the Cup, which was awkwardly perched in its custom luggage.

But now that the games have started, all eyes are on the pitch. (Did you see Portugal vs. Spain today? Incredible match.) And with the exception of Nigeria, most of the uniforms look ... a lot like they always do.

You can keep wearing your hot yellow Brazil jersey from 12 years ago, because except for some minor futzing around the collar, it's the same. Ditto Argentina, with its trademark sky blue and white stripes.

And Croatia! We'd know your red-and-white checks anywhere, even if they have extra pizzazz this year.

The kits for Japan, whose team is known as the Samurai Blue, have extra flair and are in fact samurai-inspired, with a dark indigo color that symbolizes victory.

Meanwhile, the most unlikely fashion display so far belongs to the trendsetters at the United Nations Security Council, who wore their countries' jerseys to work on Thursday.

This year's Cup is missing the bright oranje of Holland and the deep azzurri of Italy, as neither team qualified. And we'll never know what the U.S. kits might have looked like.

Denim? Hoops? Both? A reporter can dream.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

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