MILAN (Reuters) – First it was the club emblem, where the distinctive bull was removed to make way for a minimalist white letter J on a black background.
Two years later, Juventus may be preparing to make an even bigger break with tradition and ditch their famous black-and-white striped shirts after 116 years.
Gazzetta dello Sport as well as a number of social media feeds on Wednesday published what they said were leaked photographs of the 2019/20 “home” strip. In a dramatic departure, the shirt featured one black half and one white half, divided by a thin pink line.
Juventus would not confirm the kit change. “We never comment leaks or rumours,” a spokesman told Reuters. But the pictures, which included the shirt being worn by first-team players Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi, quickly stirred up controversy.
The English language blog “Black and White and Read All Over” said that the change “pretty much means Juventus will be ditching their history for a year in the hopes of making more of a fashion statement more than anything else.”
Founded by students in 1897, Juventus initially played in pink but that colour quickly fell out of favour, especially as they did not want to be confused with Palermo — who wear pink until this day.
One of the Juventus players, Englishman John Savage, had connections to Notts County and in 1903 asked if they could send a replacement. The English club agreed and ever since, Juventus have been playing in their familiar zebra stripes.
Although the release of new kits is seen as a key part of modern football marketing, it is rare for teams to do more than tinker around the edges of the so-called “home kit”.
One notable exception was Brazil. Their combination of gold shirts and blue shorts is one of the most iconic kits in football but they only adopted it in 1953.
Previously, they played in white which became seen as unpatriotic due to the lack of national colours.
Following their failure to win the 1950 World Cup on home soil, the Correio da Manha newspaper ran a competition to design a new kit, won by 19-year-old Aldyr Garcia Schlee. Brazil have worn his Canarinho (Canary kit) ever since.
Liverpool used to play in red shirts, white shorts and white socks only adopted their all-red kit in 1964 when the then manager Bill Shankly thought it would have a psychological impact on opponents.
Coincidence or not, both Brazil and Liverpool went on to enjoy years of success after their kit changes.
However, playing with tradition is not something to be taken lightly. When the Red Bull energy drinks manufacturer took over at Austrian club Salzburg in 2005, they changed to the traditional purple kit to their corporate colours of white and red.
When fans pleaded for them to rethink, the club made one concession: the goalkeeper’s away kit would feature purple socks. Fans were so annoyed that they formed a breakaway club.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)