Why Barcelona are wearing white kit — and why new 2023-24 shirt is controversial

Barcelona will wear a white shirt for the first time in 44 years when they face Arsenal in a pre-season friendly on Wednesday.

The Catalan club have unveiled their new away kit and will don it in their first warm-up game against Mikel Arteta’s side at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles (7.30pm PDT, 3.30am Thursday BST).

The new shirt will also be used in the closing match of their pre-season tour, against AC Milan in Las Vegas on August 1.

Why is wearing white controversial?

At the start of last century, white used to be the most common colour of Barcelona’s second kit, usually combined with blue shorts and socks. White kits had also been sporadically used during the 1940s and ’50s.

Barcelona last wore a white shirt in 1979, during a Cup Winner’s Cup tie in 1979 against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.

But dressing in white has been a controversial issue in Barcelona, with some fans offended by using the same colour jersey that arch-rivals Real Madrid traditionally wear.

In 2019, Barcelona rejected proposals from kit-maker Nike to dress in white, because the former board — led by Josep Maria Bartomeu — feared the the kits could be unpopular among the fanbase due to their resemblance to Real Madrid.

Why the change for 2023-24?

Now, Joan Laporta’s board has decided to change this approach and pay tribute to some of the most iconic moments in the club’s history.

Johan Cruyff was the last Barcelona legend to wear a white shirt back in the ’70s. One of the most renowned pictures of the Dutch legend as a Barcelona player is him wearing a white shirt at Villa Park during a European game against Aston Villa in the 1977-1978 season. Cruyff captained the side and scored in that 2-2 UEFA Cup draw on March 1, 1978.

“The new kit has an innovative design that pays tribute to the man who developed Barça’s playing style, Johan Cruyff”, Barcelona said after unveiling their modern version of the kit.

The 2023-24 jersey will also feature a vintage FC Barcelona crest, the one the club used in 1978.

The club said they decided to unveil it in Los Angeles to further pay tribute to Cruyff, who spent a season with the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1979.

(Photo: Barcelona FC via Twitter)

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