Adam Morton-Delaney’s Pathetic Pennants are a colourful critique of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
For football fans around the world, there’s no doubt the location of the 2022 World Cup is a topic of controversy. From human rights abuse and the deaths of migrant workers to the country’s strict laws against homosexuality that endanger the lives of LGBTQ citizens, FIFA’s decision to host the event in Qatar has been met with an abundance of criticism. As London-based designer Adam Morton-Delaney describes it, “the World Cup in Qatar will be the ugliest tournament the beautiful game has ever seen.” His opinion is echoed by thousands of football fans who, like Morton-Delaney, feel that “the tournament’s location and organisation has been so misjudged.”
The art director, designer, and self-proclaimed “massive football fan” has created his own response to the issue, with a vibrant, defiant twist. Subverting the concept of pennants – fabric drapes traditionally exchanged by team captains – Morton-Delaney has created a set of his own. Intended to symbolise respect before major football matches, these versions instead communicate the issues of the event whilst also poking fun at the ridiculousness of the situation.
Initially intending to create a set of 11, mirroring the typical 11-player team, he instead opted for ten, to highlight how the 2022 World Cup isn’t fair. The pennants, complete with “those nice frilly bits around the edge,” each display punchy and provocative phrases, digitally printed onto silk. From ‘World Cup Fuck Up’ to ‘Even Cricket Is More Fun Than This,’ Morton-Delaney explains that the copy references “well-known football chants with a twist, with other lines nodding to unfair moments in big games gone by.” Furthermore, the typographic direction draws inspiration from both protest banners and fan flags, with bright colours reminiscent of teams’ strips. Overall, Morton-Delaney explains, “the look and feel of the series is a nod to football’s rich design history and matchday programmes.”
Continuing, the designer tells us that he’s felt conflicted about supporting England at the tournament. “It’s a shame,” he continues, “because the World Cup has the power to bring people together. But Qatar seems to be doing everything it can to do the opposite. Just you watch: wouldn’t it be typical if this was the one England won?”