Racing will be sporting their new kit for the first time on Saturday when they host Orlando Pride to the Lynn Family Stadium as part of the NWSL’s preseason Challenge Cup tournament.
As a mark of respect to Louisville’s most iconic hometown hero, Racing’s new home jersey incudes a tribute to legendary boxer and activist Muhammad Ali, who was born in the Kentucky city in 1942 and was buried there following his death in 2016.
The shirt, a brooding “midnight violet” in colour, is covered in lilies (the symbol of the city) and is also speckled with butterflies and bees — a reference to Ali and one of the Louisville Lip’s most famous and enduring quotes:
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee — his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”
This was Ali’s poetic description of his tactics against George Foreman ahead of their momentous “Rumble in the Jungle” bout in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974.
The modernised version of the fleur-de-lis (lily flower) on the home jersey is a nod to the symbol which is embedded in the city’s history and culture and is also present on the crest.
Louisville was originally named in honour of King Louis XVI of France, who sided with America during the Revolutionary War.
The fleur-de-lis was subsequently adopted by the city in homage to the French monarchy and has featured on the official Louisville seal since 1778, the year the town was founded.
Now, almost 250 years later, the symbol will be worn by the city’s soccer team when they play at the Lynn Family Stadium in the neighbourhood of Butchertown.
The away kit is white and covered in a more traditional fleur-de-lis pattern, complete with subtle accents of lavender.
Racing players Emily Fox, Emina Ekic, Savannah McCaskill and Yuki Nagasato modelled the kits, sending the message that they may be new entrants to the NWSL but they can already lay claim to having “The Greatest” kit of any team in the league this season.
“We are thrilled to be revealing the inaugural Racing Louisville FC kits to the world,” club president Brad Estes said.
“Collaborating with Matthew Wolff was an awesome experience from beginning to end.
“From the home top with beautiful lilies and a nod to Ali, to the clean and classic away shirt, these are true works of art.”
The NWSL’s regular season kicks off in mid-May, with the full schedule set to be announced soon.