Barcelona's traditional roots sold to the corporate world

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If ever there was a reminder of the commercially-driven world that we live in, you need look no further than the evolution of FC Barcelona over the last decade, especially their kit.

Barcelona have always been a unique club; "Més que un Club", as the saying goes. Their roots within the local community and Catalan culture stand alongside their excellence on the pitch. It is an identity that all football fans appreciate and envy in equal measure.

Their strong ties to tradition, the Catalonian way, playing total football and dedication to their fans has taken them to the top of the world stage for what feels like all the right reasons.


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Though, as Barca's star continues to rise, those old enough to see the evolution of the Blaugrana will recognise that it's not the same club most fell in love with.

For 107 years, the Barcelona strip held special significance in football. The stripes were unpolluted by corporate sponsorships for that's not what mattered to the fan-owned club. The club mattered, the people mattered.

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In 2006, this changed when Barca partnered with UNICEF, a global children's charity. This was a deal which saw the Catalan giants actually pay to have a logo feature on their strip.


This was an innovative and cunning move that kept fans appeased: despite their jerseys no longer being clean, their morals and community links were still firmly intact. By 2011/12 season, UNICEF had taken a back-seat to the Qatar Foundation, another non-profit organisation, who had taken up the number one space on the Barca jersey before being substituted for Qatar Airways - as if we wouldn't notice.

Barca's stars feature in adverts for the airline company and its logo can be seen wherever we see the club crest. What was once a corporate-shy super club has transformed into a money-hungry mega club.

Is it symbolic of the times? Yes. But to me, Barcelona never cared for the times. They cared for their fans.

And that's the position they've taken on their latest indictment of corporate and global growth. For the first time in the club's history, their kit will adorn hoops instead of the classic scarlet and blue stripes. The Blaugranes are famous for their flags, one of the most prominent being one with simple scarlet and blue vertical stripes: see the link?

They say the major transformation represents the fans and what they mean to the club - and not the fact that kit sales in the last year have fallen significantly and they needed a boost for 2015/16. Nothing to do with that. I don't think it's anything to do with trying to disguise the increasing number of sponsors that appear on (and in) the jersey too.

Am I too cynical of the times we live in or am I upset with losing tradition? Either way, as long as Barcelona keep winning, few will take notice.

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