Oranje in black

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It's official: it's black, with a dash of orange. The new away shirt for the Dutch football team for the upcoming European Championships is almost completely black. It's a controversial choice: star player Wesley Sneijder thinks it's brilliant but others wonder if it won't be much too warm and some even consider black to be unlucky.

Wesley Sneijder revealed the new away strip in Amsterdam on Thursday afternoon. Inter Milan's superstar player called the design "spectacular" and "fantastic," which is hardly surprising as he was involved in the design process. (Scroll down for photos of Wesley Sneijder and teammate Gregory van der Wiel with the new uniform.)

According to clothing sponsor Nike, the Dutch team both commands respect and intimidates its opponents and the black kit will add to the team's presence because it "has a powerful and authoritative aura." The traditional orange colour isn't missing either; the shirt has orange bands on the inside of the sleeves and an orange panel on the right shoulder.

The new kit:

Raphael van der Vaart, John Heitinga and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar were also involved in the design process.

New Masters is written on the inside of the collar. It's a reference to the Dutch Old Masters; Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The kit is mostly made from recycled plastic bottles. There are 13 bottles in each shirt.

The new home kit will be unveiled on 17 April.

Former pro-footballer René van der Gijp is less than enthusiastic about the new design. In an appearance on the TV programme Football International, he said:

"I hope it's not true, I hope it's a joke. Why on earth did they come up with that design? They'll be playing at the European Championships this summer in 32° heat. And when you put them next to the Portuguese with their beautiful kit or the Germans..."

"And if we make it through to the quarter-finals against Spain and we have to trot out onto the field in that black kit," he said, trailing off into stunned, head-shaking silence.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and debates about the styling of the new kit will surely continue for a long time. However, Van der Gijp does have a point about the heat. Black absorbs warmth and wearing a black football jersey in the heat of a Polish or Ukrainian summer doesn't seem like such a good idea.

The black kit also means the goalkeeper will be wearing black as well. Research has shown that the ball goes further to either the left or the right when penalties are shot at goalkeeper wearing black. This could prove to be beneficial or it could be a disaster.

Is black unlucky? Superstition is not uncommon among footballers; one only has to watch players taking to the field, plucking bits of grass, crossing themselves repeatedly to be aware of that! When Ruud Gullit - nicknamed the Black Tulip - joined PSV in the 1980s, he personally saw to it that the team stopped wearing black shorts because he believed they were unlucky.

Premier League club VVV has played in a black away strip for years and hasn't won an away match for years either. The club from Venlo is hotly debating a new away strip!

Is the Dutch national team making a mistake in choosing to wear an (almost) all-black away kit for the upcoming European Championships when the team has been drawn in the group of death? Will the black kit serve as funeral garb for the hopes and dreams of the team and the football-loving nation? In the group stage, the Dutch team will play two 'home' matches (against Denmark and Germany) and one 'away' match against Portugal.

Black shorts have never stood in the way of success. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Oranje (as the team is known) played in an orange shirt with a black collar, black shorts and orange socks with a black stripe. The team managed to reach the final wearing this kit, even though they lost to Spain.

On Wednesday, the Netherlands will play a friendly against England at Wembley and will trot onto the field wearing their new black kit for the first time. We'll know if it's unlucky or not about 90 minutes after kick-off!