As widely reported today because it is hilarious, Red Bull Salzburg made a not-insubstantial boo-boo in the opening match of its 2016-17 UEFA Champions League campaign. In the first leg of a second qualifying round match against Latvia's FK Liepaja, Andreas Ulmer went out to play for Salzburg in the shirt of RB Leipzig:
Yesterday when Salzburg played against FK Liepaja, Andreas Ulmer whore this shirt #salzburg #redbull #leipzig pic.twitter.com/tFY4zRgRPR— Jacob Boelman (@boelmanden) July 13, 2016
RB-Salzburg-Profi trägt RB-Leipzig-Trikot in CL-Quali - Österreich - kicker - https://t.co/ChJJcJOPCp Sollten sich RB International nennen.— Lupus Transitus (@lupus_transitus) July 13, 2016
Red Bull Salzburg's Andreas Ulmer wore a RB Leipzig shirt in their #UCL qualification match yesterday pic.twitter.com/s8INjT2Gkq— BVB Buffalo (@BVB_Buffalo) July 13, 2016
Per Kicker's report on the subject, everything was fine for the first half, but Ulmer would appear to have changed at half-time - and his fresh shirt happened to be a Leipzig jersey with his name on it.
Salzburg and Leipzig have essentially identical home jerseys this season.
Your season starts here. The new @RedBullSalzburg jerseys have arrived! https://t.co/0zvkFRm05M ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Z0pgB1D46H— Red Bull Shop (@redbullshop) July 13, 2016
Neuer Kragen, neue Streifen, Logo-Patch, gelbe Auswärtsschrift. Alle Infos zum neuen Trikot: https://t.co/ORkdLgK9eP pic.twitter.com/etZdXaCCBl— RB Leipzig (@DieRotenBullen) July 13, 2016
Oops. Oops. Oops.
The only difference is the club badge. And for UEFA competitions, Salzburg isn't allowed to have "Red Bull" on its jerseys, which brings the modified badge even closer to that of Leipzig (which technically isn't called Red Bull at all: the "RB" is theoretically a contraction of RasenBallsport).
That's a canny cost-saving move and maybe even a savvy bit of synergy-building, but the issue could be more than just embarrassing for Papa Red Bull's global soccer project. RB Global Soccer has been at pains to find ways to ensure its ownership of both Salzburg and Leipzig doesn't fall foul of UEFA's competition rules, because if all goes according to plan, both teams will be chasing UEFA trophies one day.
It remains to be seen whether UEFA will levy any punishment against Salzburg for the mishap against Liepaja. An article in Der Standard suggests it isn't an issue the existing regulations have really anticipated.
But whatever happens in the short-term, there may be consequences in the longer-run. The incident will serve to highlight the close relationship between Salzburg and Leipzig. All Ulmer's shirt mix-up does is embarrass RB soccer. Someone at Salzburg and Leipzig no doubt now has the task of examining every single match-day shirt provided to both clubs to ensure this doesn't happen again. But UEFA will be keen to ensure it is not implicated in any future embarrassment over the blurred lines separating RB's European clubs.
There are bigger issues than shared shirts in play, and Ulmer's brief appearance as a Leipzig player in a Salzburg match serves only to bring those issues back into focus.
Incidentally, Salzburg beat Liepaja, 1-0. The second leg will be played in Latvia on July 19.