The Netherlands is back in the Round of 16 and sporting its orange kits for the fourth time in Qatar.
The color, which also happens to be the team nickname, is one of the most recognizable brands in national sports. Even more than captain Virgil Van Dijk’s infamous bun, the color has come to represent a rich soccer tradition in the small, northern European country.
How did a country — whose flag is actually red, white and blue – become synonymous with the color orange? Here’s a look at the history behind the iconic kits.
Why does the Netherlands wear Orange?
The orange color that’s present throughout much of Dutch culture is a nod to the royal family, which is made up of members of the House of Orange.
The dynasty dates back to 1544 when William of Orange inherited the estate and title at the age of 11. In the years after WIlliam of Orange ascended the throne and the Netherlands gained independence from Spanish rule, the national flag was originally blue, white and orange.
However, over the course of the last nearly five centuries, the country traded out the orange for red. The reason is not entirely known.
Some subscribe to the lore that red was simply easier to spot on the open water — an important fact for a sea-faring country. Others believe the change was part of a 1654 treaty with the English agreeing to adopt the colors of a Bavarian Coat of Arms. Still others suggest that the orange dye used for the flags turned red over time until the Netherlands just made the change official.
Despite the lack of orange in the country’s flag, the color is ubiquitous throughout many Dutch sporting events and celebrations of the royal family.
Are all of the Netherlands’ jerseys orange?
The Dutch have a blue away kit, but have yet to debut it in Qatar.
The dark blue kit includes a patch featuring the Dutch Republic Lion.
So far, they’ve only worn the orange kits through four World Cup games and it seems to be serving them well as they coasted through Group A with seven points.
Has the Netherlands ever won a World Cup?
The Dutch have made the World Cup 10 times — most recently failing to qualify in 2018 — but when they make the cut, they’re a serious threat.
In 10 appearances, the Netherlands has never been eliminated in the group stage. Furthermore, they have made the semifinals five of those times — finishing with one fourth place finish, a third place finish and three runner-up finishes. It enters Qatar having finished as the runner-ups in 2010 and in third place in 2014.
Despite the success of the Oranje, they remain in search of the sport’s most coveted trophy.