An Irish football club has unveiled a new kit featuring an image of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley.
Bohemian Football Club, in collaboration with the Bob Marley family and Bravado, the global merchandise division of Universal Music Group, today announced the release of the club’s 2022 away kit.
Bohemian FC are Ireland’s oldest football club and the club’s 121-year-old stadium, Dalymount Park, was the site of Marley’s very last outdoor concert on 6 July 1980.
The jersey, available at www.marley-bohemianfc.com, pays tribute to the ‘An Afternoon in the Park’ gig, with an embroidered hem label of the original concert ticket on the lower front of the shirt. The front, back neck and sleeve trims have red, yellow and green features.
The club will use 10% of profits from sales of the shirt to buy musical instruments and football equipment for people in Ireland’s 40 asylum seekers’ shelters. This will be done in partnership with Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI).
Bohemians Chief Operating Officer Daniel Lambert told me the shirt pays homage to the history of football and music in Dalymount. The stadium has played host to musicians like Meatloaf, Ice Cube and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as football kings like Pele, Zinedine Zidane and George Best.
“The Marley concert at Dalymount is one of Ireland’s very special musical events, his only Irish show and sadly his last open air show,” said Lambert.
“Bob Marley also played on the court. There’s this famous story that he was playing on the court (before the concert) and our groundsman at the time, he was a very old man, told Bob to leave the court.
“The gig is part of the folklore of the area and the football club.”
The jersey has been made for years. In 2019, the club, based in the Phibsborough area of north Dublin, were forced to withdraw the design after learning they did not have the correct licensing rights.
The club sold the presale, generated worldwide publicity and had Confirmation from the late singer’s son before being forced to redesign the jersey.
“I always think it was like winning the lottery and losing the ticket,” Lambert said.
This time, however, the bohemians have permission, and Lambert has heard the Marley family are fans of the design.
“As far as I can tell, there was a will on their part and an urge to make this happen,” he said.
As a big soccer fan, Bob Marley said “soccer is freedom” and his family supported soccer projects. His daughter Cedella, for example helped raise funds for the Jamaica women’s national team to compete in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Irish family-owned sportswear manufacturer O’Neills’ kits are expected to be a hit. One has already been sent to Jamaican sprinter and soccer fan Usain Bolt. Last year a kit was released by Ajax in collaboration with the Marley family sold out in one day.
“I think we will certainly break any Irish record. I know it will be our best-selling jersey,” Lambert said.
“It’s a really nice piece of history and I think it’s going to be pretty big.”
The League of Ireland Premier Division club, owned by fans since 1890, has previously used the front of its shirt to deliver a “Refugees Welcome” message. Last year, Bohemian teamed up with Grammy-nominated band Fontaines DC to raise awareness of homelessness in Ireland. The initiative has raised almost €20,000 ($22,600) for Focus Ireland, a national body working to tackle homelessness.
In December, the club joined forces with other organizations to solicit donations to buy Christmas presents for children living in Ireland’s direct welfare system for processing asylum seekers. The total donations amounted to around €100,000, with all 2,500 children receiving a gift.
Bohemian relies on the support of volunteers and members, and Lambert believes the club has a duty to help the community through initiatives like the Bob Marley-inspired jersey.
“I think it’s so important that the club reflects the issues people are facing, whether it’s related to migration and migrants … or issues closer to home, like homelessness,” he said.
“The largest asylum center in Ireland has around 250 children and they have nothing at all. So if we can decide on football shirts, footballs and instruments… I think that’s going to be a really good thing and hopefully we can help inspire some future footballers and musicians.”