Here at The Athletic, our aim is to keep you informed about what is happening in Qatar both on and off the pitch. And we will continue to bring you those important stories. But what about the things that really don’t matter but somehow lure you in anyway? Such as the 32 managers and their fashion choices on the touchline?
I do have to warn you there are a lot of navy suits. But there are some rare sneakers on show, one unique baseball cap, a pair of lucky red Converse, and more.
So come with us as we bring you a rundown of the fashion on show in the technical areas at this World Cup.
Felix Sanchez, Qatar
Qatar has been waiting 12 years to host this World Cup, so excuse me for expecting a little more from Sanchez.
OK, so this is football’s biggest tournament, not a fashion show and he did look comfy in his mix-and-match Nike tracksuit, the kind of ensemble one might throw together before boarding a long-haul flight.
There’s some irony to that, given he is the one manager who didn’t set foot on a plane to get to Doha this month.
What Sanchez did do is step up his shoe game from the first match to the second. He went for a new pair of Nike trainers, which lifted the whole look.
Gustavo Alfaro, Ecuador
Alfaro said the first game against the hosts — after what was a flashy opening ceremony — would feel like a cup final. He made sure he dressed like it.
This is Alfaro’s fourth time managing at a World Cup and he rocked up in an all-navy suit with matching tie. In the past, he has dabbled in pattern ties with his suits but wisely kept it simple here. Nobody wants to see a funky pattern loading up on their TV like a Star Wars hologram.
Let’s overlook his parliamentary vibe for a second to appreciate how Gustavo has changed my laptop algorithm forever (until I clear the cache). There I was minding my own business surfing the web when all of a sudden a big slab of advert started following me to different websites. It was an advert for men’s shoes.
Being followed around the internet by formal shoes for men is new for me. And I regret nothing. It was all worth it to know how much those double monk-strap efforts are worth. (Just the £1,200 from luxury Italian brand Ferragamo.)
Aliou Cisse, Senegal
Not everyone can make a baseball cap on the sidelines look cool, but Aliou Cisse is a man who does exactly that.
Cisse’s grey Puma tracksuit is a roaring success. This is an outfit you can do anything in. Coach the Lions of Teranga at a World Cup? Check. Bit of shopping and a bite to eat? Check.
And don’t get me started on his Nike Air Force 1 trainers. They are so fresh you know the box they came in is still in his hotel room. Recycle or keep? It’s a question many of us wrestle with.
The rolled-up sleeves are a nice touch, too. For me, they say ‘I might be without my star player, but we are at work’.
Louis van Gaal, Netherlands
Never mind Louis Vuitton, here he is, it’s Louis van Gaal.
This is the most complete, the most united a manager and his coaching staff have looked since Roberto Mancini and his Italy backroom team won best dressed at Euro 2020 last summer. Of course, no team will ever get near to what Italy did then, but the Dutch are giving it a go in Qatar.
Film this oranje tie-wearing crew walking out of the tunnel in slow motion, add some Tiesto over the top and you have yourself a viral hit on TikTok.
This might be 71-year-old Van Gaal’s last dance at a World Cup and potentially in management, so I am going to pretend I didn’t see those brown suede shoes. His press conferences are fun, his ties are brighter than the sun and apparently he wears lucky orange underpants, too. That’s commitment.
Gareth Southgate, England
Southgate is on his third studio album. His waistcoat days are so far behind him you barely even recognise him.
He has come a long way from wearing a brown paper bag on his head after Euro 96. Look at him now. He is walking tall with a watch by Hublot on his wrist and he has stuck by his label Marks & Spencer to wear their England collection.
That knitted polo leaves the old waistcoat in the mud. M&S bakeries aren’t gonna see as much action as the men’s clothing department this winter.
The waistcoat walked so the knitted polo could run.
Carlos Queiroz, Iran
For his team’s vital win over Wales, Queiroz ditched the white shirt and patterned tie he had worn as his Iran side were hit for six by England in the Group B opener.
What did he wear instead under his navy blazer? He took a more relaxed approach by donning a navy T-shirt with a gold pendant necklace. Hello, Hollywood.
This was a sitting-outside-a-cafe-in-Milan-drinking-a-second-espresso-of-the-day-while-flicking-through-a-broadsheet kind of outfit.
Gregg Berhalter, United States
One thing you have to know about Berhalter is he collects sneakers. Some have even called him a connoisseur.
His shoe game is going to be difficult to top at this World Cup. He has already worn an (at the time) unreleased pair of A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 4s in the ‘Violet Ore’ colourway.
And he is not the kind of guy to overwear a pair of shoes, so when he walked out of the tunnel at the Al Bayt stadium for his team’s middle group game against England he was, of course, in a fresh set of kicks. The white Supreme x Nike Air Max 98 TLs looked beautiful.
His outfits from the ankles up don’t really match up with his rare shoe collection, though. He is almost under-dressed. Doing the sneakers a disservice, really.
Rob Page, Wales
Page continues to dress like a sports coach, which does make a lot of sense given his profession.
Adidas sponsor the Welsh team and he proudly wears all of their merch. This is one of the better tracksuit combos we have seen at this World Cup.
It shouts ‘Dad’s taxi’ a bit. And he does give off a fatherly feel, especially when we saw him on the pitch consoling young Neco Williams, whose grandad passed away on the eve of the tournament.
Page seems like a good fella. The kind who would have the same passion whether he was coaching a team at the World Cup or in the Welsh Premier League.
Vogue may not come calling but Cymru has, and that’s all that matters to Rob.
Lionel Scaloni, Argentina
From one down-to-earth Adidas aficionado to the next.
As with Wales, Lionel Scaloni and his backroom staff are all dressing alike. They are in this together and wear the same tracksuit bottoms with an Argentina-embossed exercise top to go with it.
Check out their matching Ultra Boost trainers, too. They are part of the COPA World Cup collection by Adidas. And one more thing I have learned is Argentina blue might be the most mood-lifting colour ever.
Also, at 44, doesn’t West Ham old boy Scaloni look like he could still make the bench for the team?
Herve Renard, Saudi Arabia
It is no coincidence Renard’s first name ends in ‘ve’. He is someone who puts the ‘ve’ into suave.
The Louis Vuitton trainers are quite something but for me there is only one talking point here and that is Renard’s sweatproof, creaseproof,foolproof shirt.
His Saudi team played a high line against Lionel Messi’s Argentina and not one crease appeared in that white shirt. He ran around the dressing room at half-time screaming at his players and emerged without a sweat patch in sight.
He looks like he owns a yacht and insists on sailing it himself. I’ve heard people say he looks like a James Bond villain, but what I’m wondering is: are Davidoff searching for a new Cool Water fragrance model to emerge in slow-mo from the sea? Because look no further, Renard is your man walking out of the water in an industrial white shirt which somehow stays completely dry.
Tata Martino, Mexico
Martino’s jacket is refreshing, mainly because it isn’t navy and because it’s got outlandish pockets.
Those pockets look like they were made to measure for an iPad. I can’t stop looking at them. An oversized pocket could be the future. Why has there been such a big focus on humanity going into space? We have been overlooking oversized pockets this whole time.
Imagine all the things you could store in them. No more bags for life. No more blazers with faux pockets.
Czeslaw Michniewicz, Poland
Now here are some shoes that have a low-key Dr Martens energy. A thicker sole feeds the soul. And look at that shine, too.
Michniewicz is not scared to mix things up game to game. He knows those shoes are a winner so kept them in his locker, but after wearing a navy suit and tie for the opener he was then in a dugout opposite Herve Renard and that self-ironing white shirt.
Michniewicz had to step things up and wore a light grey suit instead.
Whether or not you support this look, we have to respect he has brought more than one suit to this World Cup and is preparing to wear them all instead of having just one on repeat. He is your boss’s boss who you never really see and he has a different suit for each day of the week.
Didier Deschamps, France
If I didn’t know better, I’d say Deschamps dresses like a man who has won the World Cup as both a player and a manager.
You will never see an outfit that will make you want to sit and drink red wine and talk about Zinedine Zidane more than this one.
Did Deschamps wear this same suit at Russia 2018? Because it has that timeless feel to it. So much so, he might be wearing it again in the US, Canada or Mexico in four years.
This look has a certain va-va-voom that others will go in search of but never find. Deschamps stands alone, his mind plotting a route to a third star being stitched above the French crest. He is attempting to bring Orion’s Belt home and is doing so from a fashion plinth so high he might be able to lasso the final star down from the sky.
Graham Arnold, Australia
Arnold’s shoes have a Clarks desert-boot feel. Though his collar has to be the biggest talking point. You really can’t miss it.
At the start of games, it is all neat and tidy. By the end, it points out, like he is about to get up and sing Night Fever by the Bee Gees on karaoke at 1am.
After guiding Australia to their first win at a World Cup in 12 years and being the first Aussie-born coach to ever do so — the 1-0 over Tunisia was also a first clean sheet at the tournament for them in 48 years — I am sure Arnold and his 1970s collar will be the toast of many a household Down Under.
Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark
Look at these trainers. Hjulmand has absolutely gone for it. They are merry, bright and a lot different to anything else on display.
He has shown commitment to the lanyards-aren’t-cool-but-we-have-to-wear-them movement too by tucking his away under his shirt. Never seen that done before. It makes him a lanyard pioneer.
Heading into the stadium for the opening game, he was pictured with shirt untucked and a pair of sunglasses hooked onto it. It was ‘School’s out for summer’ meets ‘I sold my start-up for millions’.
Jalel Kadri, Tunisia
We have a manager wearing Kappa. Kadri and Tunisia have brought Kappa to the World Cup.
Their service to the niche and iconic Turin-based brand brings a tear to the eyes of football hipsters everywhere.
He could have worn a suit but that would have cruelly denied us our fix of touchline Kappa. He has done us a solid here.
Luis Enrique, Spain
Fresh from swanning around Spain’s training base in just his shorts, Luis Enrique is an undisputed stylish man.
He looks like he could advertise expensive watches. He might already.
He is out here strutting about like Enrique Iglesias. Black trousers, matching jumper. It is from the book of smart looks.
This whole outfit, finished off with a pair of Munich trainers, tells me he has those hefty fashion catalogues neatly lined up on his coffee table at home.
Luis Fernando Suarez, Costa Rica
Sound the alarm. We have red Converse at the World Cup.
Thanks to Suarez and his lucky red shoes, we have a rare gift indeed. He started wearing them because of a foot problem and then they became a mystical pair of shoes his players ordered him to stick with.
He is 62 and wearing high-top Chucks in red. This is bold and courageous, and I fully support it.
The rest of the outfit screams golf course at me and to be fair his Costa Rica team did hit a few bogeys against Spain. They ended the game seven over par.
And then they defeated a Japan team who were fresh from beating Germany. It was an unexpected and hard-fought win. Maybe we all need some lucky red shoes.
Hansi Flick, Germany
Flick is slick.
No tie gives this a weekend feel to his navy suit. A gentle injection of colour comes from those sneakers. I can’t decide whether they look like high-street classics or the most expensive shoes on the rack.
I really don’t want to ankle-shame anyone here but are we seeing too much ankle? I don’t know. It is not for me to decide. I do think he looks among the best dressed, though.
It is all very efficient, even if his team did not look that way in their opening two games.
Hajime Moriyasu, Japan
People, we have ourselves a waistcoat.
That’s right. Japan manager Moriyasu has gone for it. In that heat, too. You have to both respect it and regret it for him.
Moriyasu’s whole look is almost undone by his tie sticking out at the bottom.
Of course, he made sure that didn’t happen in the second Group E game but it didn’t help him, as he couldn’t guide his team to victory over Costa Rica.
Roberto Martinez, Belgium
Martinez dresses well. He is the one manager you can rely on to keep his blazer buttoned up.
For a man who has managed in Swansea, Wigan and Liverpool over the years, he has not just put what he has learned from football to good use, but fashion, too.
Maybe the blazer looks a little oversized, like an older brother has handed it down. He makes it work and might even have wanted it to swallow him whole when his Belgium team scraped past Canada and then lost to Morocco.
And for some bonus fashion, here is Thierry Henry modelling the coaching staff’s tracksuit. Magnifique.
John Herdman, Canada
Herdman is the first coach to manage at both the women’s and men’s World Cup, making him very cool before we even rate his style.
His haircut tells me he is in the barber’s chair once a week, freshening up that Peaky Blinders fade.
Canada had the highest xG (expected goals) of any team after the World Cup’s opening round of group games and I feel like his outfit was right up there, too.
This look is strong and a tie would have gotten in his way. Not that it really mattered in the end though, with Canada among the first teams to be eliminated.
Walid Regragui, Morocco
Regragui only took over as Morocco boss in September but already he is making the technical area on the international stage his own little runway.
For their first game of the World Cup, he wore a black suit, white shirt and some smart shoes. For the second, he made a super substitution by swapping out the formal efforts for all-white Veja trainers.
It was an inspired change which brought with it a youthful buzz, the kind his team showed on the pitch as they had their best day at a World Cup, beating a Belgium side ranked second in the world by FIFA, 2-0.
Zlatko Dalic, Croatia
I am encumbered by navy suits now.
Dalic has done himself a big favour by not wearing a tie. It breaks it up and he does look smart.
But the cuffs on his shirt stick out like two captain’s armbands on his wrists. He needs to pull them up.
The shoes being made for laces but then not having holes for laces is confusing.
Ola, Tite. Now here we have a manager who likes to dress entirely differently to his coaching staff.
He wants to stand out and does. This Brazil-blue suit gives us a much-needed break from black and navy. Having a shirt the same colour as your blazer is quietly wild, isn’t it? Or is it? Diego Simeone has long repped an all-black suit, shirt and tie.
And we should also complement the glossiness of Tite’s shoes. Even if he is now left sweating over the fitness of Neymar, he looks pretty polished, as did his team in their opening game.
Dragan Stojkovic, Serbia
Another bland navy suit is making me wonder if they are all in this together. Is there some navy suit WhatsApp group chat I don’t know about?
The best thing about Stojkovic is he did not commit himself to wearing said suit for the entirety of the evening. As the night wore on, the blazer was abandoned and the tie thrown away as Brazil turned the heat up on his team.
You fear had the game gone on for much longer Stojkovic might have ended up shoeless, prowling the touchline in his red-striped socks.
Murat Yakin, Switzerland
Yakin was one of the only managers to go without either a tracksuit jacket or blazer.
Don’t call him Mr Gadget, but if you do need to borrow a pen, he has one clipped on the inside of his collar.
His outfit refreshingly blends smart with casual. A perfect balance, plus the best head of hair out of the lot of ’em. Andrea Pirlo would be proud.
Rigobert Song, Cameroon
OK, so Song wore his own personalised baseball cap which says ‘La Theorie Du Danger’ on the front.
This is said to refer to a rousing answer he gave after defeat to Algeria in the World Cup play-offs back in March.
Cameroon lost 1-0 in the first leg and Song is reported to have said something along the lines of, “When you know you are in danger, then you are no longer in danger. It’s when you don’t know that you’re in danger that you’re in danger.”
His cap refers to that ‘theory of danger’ speech. Four days after losing that first leg, Cameroon won 2-1 to book their place at this tournament on away goals.
The Cameroon coach is former Arsenal and Barcelona player Alex Song’s uncle – and a cool uncle at that. I mean look at those Alexander McQueen oversized, bubble-sole trainers. Not just anyone can get away with bouncing around the touchline in them.
Rigobert is not just anyone.
Fernando Santos, Portugal
Navy suits are the vuvuzelas of this World Cup. You can’t escape them. At first it was cute, but now it is testing me.
Portugal manager Santos looks to have got the dark-blue suit memo before arriving in Qatar with his team.
And I’m not sure if he knows but his polka dot tie looks like it has mutually terminated its contract with the top button on his white shirt.
He might want to tighten that up.
Otto Addo, Ghana
Otto, thank you for your service.
This look is restoring my faith in manager fashion. It is elegant. And I want to say more but I have nothing more to say.
Ghana’s manager turned up. It is as simple as that.
I think this picture makes it look like he is about to run on and start playing in the game.
Diego Alonso, Uruguay
Alonso spent two years coaching Inter Miami in MLS — and you can absolutely tell. He has brought Miami Beach to the World Cup four years early.
In his glossy, (yes) dark blue suit, he looked way sharper than his Uruguay attack, who failed to register a single shot on target against South Korea.
Getting smashed in the face by a stray ball was not what this outfit deserved. Who did that?
Walk it off, Diego; in those bright white trainers and almost invisible socks, walk it off.
He is our World Cup of fashion winner.
Paulo Bento, South Korea
You feel for Bento. You really do.
Coming up against Diego Alonso on gameday one was always going to be a tough gig. Feels to me like Group F could be fashion’s own group of death.
Bento’s placing is not helped by turning up dressed for an Olympic opening ceremony. Maybe the jacket will become a holy grail of vintage football clothing in a decade’s time? Right now, it doesn’t impress me much.
Follow the latest World Cup news, analysis, tables, fixtures and more here.
(Main graphic — photos: Getty Images/design: Sam Richardson)