This article titled “Messi business! FC Barcelona stars in a sweat over new shirts” was written by Giles Tremlett in Madrid, for The Guardian on Monday 26th September 2011 16.32 UTC
It was supposed to be the sports business marriage from heaven. Nike makes the kit for European Champions FC Barcelona and both share the income from millions of shiny claret-and-blue shirts bearing the names of living legends such as Leo Messi.
The jerseys are more than just presents for fans. Special “pitch shirts”, made just for the squad, are also meant to make the players’ lives easier on the pitch, improving performance and helping them win titles.
But embarrassed Barcelona officials have now admitted that the players are unhappy with the shirt design, complaining that it soaks up sweat to become a heavy, skin-clinging nuisance.
Players have even taken to weighing their shirts on scales at half-time to see how much weight they have gained, according to Spain’s El País newspaper.
A shirt that weighed 200 grams at the beginning of a match can weigh up to two-and-a-half times as much just 45 minutes later.
Dressing room sources told El País that players noticed during a pre-season tour of the US that the shirt “weighed a tonne” and “stuck to the body like a limpet”.
They hoped the problem would not persist when they returned to the more forgiving weather conditions in Spain, but on Friday the club called a meeting with Nike to seek solutions.
Nike said it has begun testing the shirt. “Nike’s product team is working to address concerns with the FCB home jersey,” a spokeswoman said.
“All product concerns are treated with the utmost importance and a solution is expected when all appropriate testing is completed.”
Major clubs can sell more than 1m shirts a year, and Barcelona had said this season’s design looked set to break records.
The much-vaunted eco-friendly pitch shirt, said to use the recycled plastic of a dozen water bottles in a single garment, reportedly uses a version of Nike’s Dri-Fit fabric, made of polyester microfibres to help wearers stay dry and comfortable.
Nike’s website boasts that the official Barcelona shirt it sells for £55 is “a game-ready performer with sweat-wicking fabric for distraction-free competition”.
The description does not seem to fit the pitch shirts worn by the club’s players.
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