The story behind FC Barcelona’s famous blue and red jerseys
Various theories abound as to why Barcelona adopted these iconic colours, from the claim that they copied a Swiss club’s shirts to the theory that they were based on the most available pen colours of the day. According to the club, however, the true origins of the shirts lie in a town just outside of Liverpool at the turn of the twentieth century.Updated: Apr 28, 2020, 15:01 IST
FC Barcelona’s blue and red colours are famous around the world and form an important, unmistakeable part of the club’s identity. The colours are even reflected in one of the club’s most common nicknames of Blaugrana: ‘blau’ the Catalan word for blue, ‘grana’ the word for a deep red.
There are conflicting theories as to why FC Barcelona has worn blue and red stripes for most of the club’s history – with only a few exceptions, such as the current 2019/20 jersey which has a chequered pattern, although even that is made up of the traditional colours.
The theory which the club officially backs is that blue and red were chosen at a meeting of club members in December 1899, the second meeting held after the club had been founded just a couple of weeks previously. The story goes that the Witty brothers – Arthur and Ernest, both of whom were very involved in the early years of the club – proposed wearing blue and red stripes since these had been the colours of the rugby team at Merchant Taylors, the school where they’d studied in Crosby, a town just outside of Liverpool, UK.
It is said that Hans Max Gamper-Haessig – the Swiss pioneer more commonly known as Joan Gamper, who led the group that founded the club – accepted this proposal, possibly because he had already worn those colours during his brief spell with FC Basel.
This version of the story has been told by the descendants of these founding fathers from Barça’s early years and has been accepted by the club. The club officially state: “the version proposed by the families who were linked with the club’s foundation appears now to be the most likely theory on the origins of the club’s colours and is supported by the club. Maybe someday, in the most unlikely of circumstances, a document will appear that will confirm this theory. Until that day, we will continue to state that this is the most feasible claim.”
However, there are other theories out there too, from the theory that the colours were chosen by the mother of one of the players since she had material available in those colours to the suggestion that it was inspired by pens used at the time that had both blue and red nibs. Another is that these colours came to mind because they’d been adopted widely during the French Revolution.
The complete truth isn’t fully known, but the club believe that the colours came from the Merchant Taylors school in England. Given the club’s international identity, this makes perfect sense. The club’s decision-makers upon foundation were highly international, hailing from Catalonia, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom, where the Witty brothers had grown up. By embracing the international nature of the club and adopting colours from a school a thousand miles away and in a country considered the spiritual home of the game, Barça added some vibrant colour to Spanish football from the very beginning.
Other LaLiga teams have worn similar kits over the years, including SD Eibar, who actually adopted the colours after they borrowed some FC Barcelona jerseys as the Basque club was starting out. Yet the first LaLiga side to play in the famous blue and red was FC Barcelona.