Barcelona 'blasphemy': Nike unveils controversial hooped kit
First the Catalan club allowed a sponsor on the shirts, now they are ditching the iconic stripes
For more than a century the shirt worn by the footballers of Barcelona was sacrosanct, achieving such iconic status in Catalonia and beyond that it was not until 2006 that a sponsor's logo was allowed to appear over the famous blue and red 'blaugrana' stripes.
Even then the 'sponsor' was a charity, Unicef, and it was Barcelona who paid them rather than the other way round. It seemed in keeping with Barcelona's motto – More Than a Club.
But in 2011, Barca finally accepted corporate sponsorship, pocketing €150m from Qatar in a five-year deal, and in 2013 a commercial sponsor's logo, that of Qatar Airways, made its debut on the shirts.
But now it is reported that Barcelona are taking an even more radical step and will switch from the famous stripes to hoops in 2015, thereby breaking what the Daily Mail calls the "sacred law of football kits".
The news was revealed by Spanish paper Sport, which says that the controversial move has been pushed through by Barcelona's kit manufacturer, Nike.
The company pushed for an "innovative design" because "sales fall when the new design is very similar to the previous year". Therefore, the decision to change, it says, was a "commercial" one. "Nike has decided to change the usual vertical to horizontal stripes in order to surprise the fan and make it more attractive," adds the paper.
Many will regard the move as "blasphemy" says the Mail. "[It's what] you might expect from an eccentric foreign owner with little sense of a club's roots. But when the idea has come from, or been accepted by the club's board, questions will be asked."
It adds that 70 per cent of Barca's fans are against the idea, and it did not appear to do down well with the club's English-speaking fans either.
Going by the negative backlash, I would not be at all surprised if Nike shelved the plans for horizontal stripes
— Red Star Liverpool (@RedStarLvrpool) December 2, 2014
A hooped Barcelona kit?! Burn it with fire!
— John M O'Sullivan (@JohnOSullivan91) December 2, 2014