Why Barcelona's new shirt might be their most controversial ever

Barcelona's new white kit pictured ahead of their friendly against Arsenal in July 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was Barcelona, but probably not as you have seen them before.

The Catalans kicked off their pre-season campaign against Arsenal in Los Angeles on Wednesday night with a 5-3 loss to the Gunners. Not in their familiar blue and red, but in white.

Barça have worn white before, though not often. The Blaugrana did have a white shirt back in the 1970s, but have been reluctant to go back to a colour associated with their fierce rivals Real Madrid. Until now, that is.

In the 1990s, Barcelona's former kit supplier Kappa received a backlash from fans for including white detail on the shirt, including a strip across the arms and their own logo.

That strip is now considered iconic, but many refused to buy it at the time and some supporters complained to the club.

Last season, Barça tested the water with a light grey shirt which looked white in certain lights. Overall, it proved popular, though some were unhappy again. "It's not white, it's grey!" others would often protest on social media.

This time, the shirt is definitely white and while some traditionalists are annoyed, the general reaction on social media suggests it will be a big seller.

Some have even seen it as an opportunity to get one over their fierce rivals Real. "LaLiga and Copa del Rey will be won by a team wearing white," one user tweeted alongside a picture of Barcelona's players posing in the new kit.

"Barcelona introduces their second kit for the 2023/24 season, which has an innovative design that pays tribute to the man who developed Barça's playing style, Johan Cruyff," the club said on their website.

"Based on the second kit worn by the blaugranes during the 1970s, the jersey is predominantly white, and features red and blue stripes on the sleeve cuffs.

"Just like the first kit harks back to the spirit of the Barça Women's team that played their first ever game at the Spotify Camp Nou in 1970, the pioneering figure of Cruyff has provided inspiration for this kit."

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Barça have experimented with a number of different designs in recent seasons, including a chequered version of their home shirt and the introduction of a darker stripe alongside a lighter blue on their jersey for 2022-23.

The new kit endured an inauspicious start as Barça fell to a 5-3 defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Ferran Torres were on target for the Spanish champions in the loss to the Gunners. However, it was the first pre-season fixture for Xavi's side after their game against Juventus was cancelled on Saturday due to illness in the squad.

Barça face Real Madrid next in Dallas on Saturday. And they will be unlikely to wear white in that one...

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.