Photo: Lionel Messi
Designed by Nike, the new Barça shirt gets more than 15 ounces heavier by halftime and breaking with tradition carries an ad for the first time.
Barcelona had a reputation for being the only team pretty much anywhere that had resisted temptation to co-opt to corporate brands, and cash-in huge deals for advertising with logos on their shirt.
Barça even went the other way around, and paid UNICEF $2 million a year to promote the charity on the team’s jersey. Their super star line-up of players is actually encouraged to sport their shirts to events, and routinely appear publically supporting UNICEF’s mission.
But as of recently, the priorities of the team honchos have changed, and the 112-year-old tradition of not using the jersey to sell a product was broken with a $232 million deal to carry the Quatar Foundation name on t-shirts for the next five years.
Joan Laporta, the club president from 2003 to 2010, and the force behind the Unicef agreement, regretted the decision.
“Our team looks like the Qatar national team now,” Laporta told reporters. “They’ve sold the shirt for four cents.”
Former Barça star Johann Cryuff, called the deal “vulgar.” The UNICEF deal now calls for its logo to be relegated to the back of the shirt. Many thousands of club fans are upset and have signed a petition to demand that the endorsement agreement be revoked.
But the agreement went on, and Nike took on the project, creating the new Barcelona shirts out of Dri-FIT, “a game-ready performer with sweat-wicking fabric for distraction-free competition,” according to the company.
The fabric, made of recycled polyester micro fibers—environmentally friendly, uses the recycled plastic of “up to eight bottles” in a single shirt.
Problem is, it also collects eight bottles worth of sweat in half a game, as proved by Barça players who put their collective complaint about the shirt to the test, and found that in 45 minutes of play, the Nike shirt weighed 17 and a half ounces more than before putting it on, at the beginning of the match.
Nike said in a statement to AP that it is “working to find a solution to the problem with the shirts along with the club,” and hopes to have the issue resolved within the next two or three weeks.