The History of the FC Barcelona Shirt

More Than a Club! More Than a Shirt!

The colours of the FC Barcelona shirt and have been blue and maroon (crimson depending how you look at it) since very shortly after the founding of the club and following 2015-16's radical horizontal stripes, we're happily back to the traditional vertical ones.

There are a number of theories explaining the origins of the emblematic blaugrana colours, and the most generally accepted one is that Joan Gamper, the founder of FC Barcelona, chose the colours because his previous club, Basel FC, had also played in blue and maroon.

Another theory has it 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.

However, my favourite theory puts the decision on the colours for the shirt a few weeks after that first meeting but shows the English influence on the History of FC Barcelona.

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 shirt for each member of the team.

The first game was played in blue and maroon rugby shirts and the blaugrana tradition stuck.


The Development of the FC Barcelona Shirt

Whatever the reason for the original decision FC Barcelona have played in blue and maroon shirts but interestingly the colour of the shorts was white in the early years and black from 1913 onwards

The shorts have only been blue since the 1920s and even this tradition was broken when Barça played in crimson shorts in the 2005-6 season for commercial reasons.

As you can see from the picture above, apart from the 2015-16 season when the stripes were vertical, the shirt has always comprised vertical blue and maroon stripes of varying widths.

There was never any publicity on the shirt until 2006 when Joan Laporta's board came to an agreement with UNICEF and since 2011, Qatar Airways have had their logo emblazoned across the front of the shirt.

At the time of writing (June 2016), the club has yet to reach an agreement with Qatar Airways or any other major sponsor so hopefully the FC Barcelona shirt will be publicity free for the coming and future seasons.

The club has had three shirt 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 supplied by Nike.

It's only since Nike have been the supplier the the commercialisation of the shirt has really taken off and the design has changed pretty much every season.

My Barça Shirts

My own love affair with the FC Barcelona shirt goes back to my arrival in Barcelona at the end of the 1987-88 season.

That summer Johan Cruyff arrived as coach and I must admit that initially I didn't really support Barça, partly because the then Real Madrid side was the famous Quinta de Buitre side and as I then didn't know that I'd spend the rest of my life in Barcelona, I was mainly interested in watching good football.

The main reason I found it difficult to support Barça, though, was that Johan Cruyff annoyed me by playing Gary Lineker on the wing and then criticising him for not scoring enough goals.

All this changed at the start of the 1989-90 season when various players were signed, most notably Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman, and the fabulous Dream Team began to form.

I was immediately captivated by Michael Laudrup's football and decided I wanted a shirt.

Unfortunately, though, the shop was out of Laudrup shirts so realising that if I didn't buy one there and then, I'd probably never buy one at all, I bought the Koeman shirt you can see in the picture.

The picture above shows my collection of Barça shirts and if you look from left to right, on the far side you'll see the 1989 Koeman shirt.

Next to that on the bottom row is a a 1998-99 shirt, which was bought for me as an end of year as a present by one of my classes of English students.

The last shirt on the bottom row is a 2011-12 first team shirt, which you can see me wearing in the second picture, which was a birthday present from my current partner.

On the top row you can see a black 2011-12 away shirt, which these days is the shirt I tend to wear most often because it's a little more understated and means I don't draw so much attention to myself if I wear it around town when there isn't a game on.

The final shirt is the 2014-15 away shirt with the Senyera Catalan flag design, which I bought to commemorate the 9-N proxy referendum on Catalan independence because I'm very much of the opinion that the reason why Barça is "More Than a Club!" is because of its connections with Catalanism. In fact I've covered this in a separate article on FC Barcelona and Catalan Independence.

I know my collection of Barça shirts is quite modest but I've also got an impressive collection of jumpers, hoodies, jackets and tee-shirts and in a box somewhere I think I've still got an old Barça beach towel from the Nineties.

Have Something To Say About This Topic?

Do you have a great information to add or an opinion to express about on this topic? Share it!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.