There are generally two things that an ardent Barcelona fan look forward at the start of a new season. One is the new player arrivals & secondly a newly launched Barça kits/jersey to flaunt, to feel the warmth, to admire the colour & design of the jersey, to kiss the badge of the club whenever you or any other Barca fans around the world proud of its club’s historic and rich culture and tradition. Have you ever thought of the club’s jersey origin and its beautiful journey over the years? Let’s find out…
Since the start, there are many assumptions made by the historians and the people regarding the selection of the colours of the jerseys made by the first Barcelona president Joan Gamper. He opted for the colours because his previous club, Basel FC, had also played in Blue & Maroon. While another assumption states that at the founding meeting at Gimnasio Solé on November 29th 1899, one of the board members had an accounting pencil with him, which was blue at one end and maroon at the other, and when they had to decide on club colours, one of the board members saw the pencil, suggested blue and maroon and the idea stuck.
One more exciting theory puts the decision on the colours for the jersey after the first meeting where it shows the English influence on Barca’s history. Two of the club’s early players were Englishmen Ernest and Arthur Witty, who had attended Merchant Taylors’ School in Crosby in Lancashire, whose school colours were blue and maroon. According to author Jimmy Burns in his excellent Barça: A People’s Passion, shortly before Football Club Barcelona’s first game, one of the brothers went back to England on a business trip and returned with a Merchant Taylors’ rugby jersey for each member of the team. The first game was played in blue and maroon rugby shirts & from there, the journey of Blue and Maroon stripe jersey began…
Shorts have varied over the years: They’re sometimes red, sometimes blue, and even occasionally black or white, though they hadn’t departed from one of the core colours since the 1999 Centennial Jersey when black shorts were chosen to match the black sleeves and black collar that augmented a half-red, half-blue design and the crest in the middle of the jersey rather than over the heart.
The club has had three kit suppliers in its 117 years of history: from 1899 to 1982, there was no supplier, from 1982 to 1992 the shirts were supplied by Meyba, from 1992 to 1998 the supplier was Kappa and since 1998, FC Barcelona shirts have been provided by Nike since 1998, a 20-year period that has been a golden era of success for the club — 10 Spanish league titles, four continental crowns and a host of other silverware. To mark the relationship’s 20th anniversary, Nike is releasing a commemorative jersey featuring a stylish mash-up of every home shirt of the last two decades.
There is a pride of owning a Barcelona jersey due to its rich roots and its culture and traditions where Barcelona did not adopt the common practice of having a sponsor’s logo for revenue gain until the season of 2006/07 where Barca and the UNICEF, a Non-Profit Organizations of the UN signed a historic deal under the presidency of Joan Laporta. For the longest time, Barcelona has alleged itself as “Mes Que un club” (more than a club). UNICEF branding was the pinnacle of this ideology. The decision to not have jersey sponsors & instead donating money to UNICEF was a powerful statement of goodwill. The association with UNICEF marked total domination capturing 3 La Liga’s, 2 UCL’s and 1 FIFA CWC titles.
However, jersey branding rights became extremely lucrative for clubs. To remain in the elite clubs and also to maintain its rich roots & culture was not at all easy for the board to come to a final conclusion. Finally, in the season of 2011-12, the board signed a lucrative deal with Qatar Airways to inject more revenue. During this time, Barcelona also went ahead for changing the pattern of the stripes during the 2012/13 season and in the next season, for the first time in its history, FC Barcelona unveiled an away kit based on the red and yellow of the Catalan flag – the ‘Senyera’ till 2016/17 season. With Rakuten, a Japanese online firm being the current main sponsor of the team. Barca has experimented with its new ideas and creativity in these years opting for thinner stripes in the centre during 2017/18 season and going into the current season (2019/20) for a unique style of checked shirt, inspired by Barcelona’s Eixample district, with the Catalan flag more visible being worn on the front. Also, for the first time ever in Barca’s history, the club had a different sponsor for its women’s team. For the coming 2020/21 season, Barca has returned to its traditional Blaugrana stripes in a way to celebrate some of their most triumphant periods.