One of the most distinctive elements of FC Barcelona are the colours the players wear.
Scarlet and blue have featured on the club shirt for more than one hundred years and the club is widely known as the ‘Blaugrana’ in reference to the names of these colours in the Catalan language.However, although the shirt has remained relatively constant in design over the years, the team shorts were white for the first ten years of club history, then switched to black, and were only blue from the 1920s onwards.
Not just why Barça originally chose to wear these shirt colours has been matter of much debate among club historians, and although several theories have been put forward, nobody has ever managed to provide substantial evidence that the colours were chosen for any symbolic reason.
Naturally, most of the theories are related to the foundation and origins of the club.
For instance, it was claimed for several years that the Barça colours were adopted from a Swiss club Basel, that Gamper had founded earlier in his life, or that they were the colours of the Swiss canton that the founder was from. We now know that these hypotheses are highly unlikely to be true.In his history of Barça, called, er, Barça, writer Jimmy Burns contends that it was in fact one of the club's first players, Englishman Arthur Witty, who exported the colours from Merseyside - Crosby's Merchant Taylor's School, to be precise. "Arthur claimed he drew on his old school colours for the maroon and blue that were to become Barça's," says Burns. "In correspondence with Arthur's son Frederick in 1975, the school's then-headmaster Reverend H M Luft reinforced this claim. In a letter, which I have seen, Reverend Luft states: 'I think it is very likely that the present colours of FC Barcelona are ultimately derived from our original colours here.'"
There is another common but unproven theory that the founders based their choice on the colours of the blue and red accountancy pencils that were so popular at the time. And there are other more prosaic suggestions, for instance the one which maintains that the mother of the Comamala brothers supplied the players with red and blue sashes so that they could differentiate between each other in the days before they had a kit of their own. But, as stated earlier, none of these theories have ever managed to offer conclusive evidence of why it was that Barça used these colours from its very earliest days. But what can be sure is that the Barça shirt has gone on to be one of the most recognisable and enigmatic shirt designs in world football.
There are few elements that symbolise an organised group more than its crest.
From the very moment Barça was founded, the club had its own emblem that the players proudly wore on their shirts. It was the coat of arms of the city of Barcelona, a diamond shape divided into four quarters, with a crown and a bat on top, and surrounded by two branches, one of a laurel tree and the other a palm. This, even at such an early stage, was a way of expressing the club’s link to the city in which it was born.
This crest remained unchanged until 1910. Shortly after Gamper had saved the club from serious crisis in 1908, a decision was made to give the club its own differentiated crest. In 1910, the club held a competition between all the members interested in presenting proposals. The winner was Carles Comamala, who played for the club between 1903 and 1912, and was a medicine student at the time, as well as being a fine artist. And so the crest that the club wears to this day was created, although there have been a few variations.
It is a bowl-shaped design, in which the two upper quarters maintain the St George Cross and the red and yellow bars of the original, which are the most representative symbols of Barcelona and Catalonia. The club initials FCB appear on a strip across the centre, and below are the Barça colours and a ball. So, what we have is a crest that honours the sporting dimension of the club as well as its connection to its city and country.
Since 1910, the changes made to the design have been minimal, generally just modifying the aesthetics and the patterns used for the outline. The biggest changes came about as a result of political obligations. When Franco came to power, the letters FCB were replaced by CFB, to reflect the way the club was forced to use the Spanish version of its name. The dictatorship also obliged the club to remove two of the four bars from one of the upper quarters, thus excluding the Catalan flag from the crest. On occasion of the club’s 50th anniversary in 1949, the four bars returned. The original letters were not recovered until late 1974, when the crest reverted to the original 1910 design.
The present crest is based on an adaptation made by designer Claret Serrahima in 2002, in which the lines are a little more stylised, the dots between the letters have been taken away, the name has been made smaller, and there are fewer pointed edges. The lines in this latest design are somewhat simpler, to make it easier for the crest and the club’s corporate identity to be reproduced in all the different formats.