Founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Catalan footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has become a symbol of Catalan culture and Catalanism, hence the motto "Més que un club" (More than a club). The official Barça anthem is the "Cant del Barça" written by Jaume Picas and Josep Maria Espinàs. Unlike many other football clubs, the supporters own and operate Barcelona. It is the world's second richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of €398 million. The club holds a long-standing rivalry with Real Madrid, and matches between the two teams are referred to as "El Clásico".
They are the current Spanish and European football champions, and have won 21 La Liga, 25 Copa del Rey, 10 Supercopa de España, 3 Copa Eva Duarte and 2 Copa de la Liga trophies, as well as being the record holder for the latter four competitions. In international club football Barcelona have won four UEFA Champions League, a record four UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, four UEFA Super Cup, a record three Inter-Cities Fairs Cup  and a record two FIFA Club World Cup trophies.
Barcelona is one of the only three clubs to have never been relegated from La Liga, along with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid. In 2009, Barcelona became the first club in Spain to win the treble consisting of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the Champions League. That same year, it also became the first football club ever to win six out of six competitions in a single year, thus completing the sextuple, comprising the aforementioned treble and the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Birth of FC Barcelona (1899–1922)
Birth of FC Barcelona (1899–1922)
On 22 October 1899, Hans Kamper placed an advertisement in Los Deportes declaring his wish to form a football club; a positive response resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé on 29 November. Eleven players attended—Walter Wild (the first director of the club), Lluís d'Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Carles Pujol, Josep Llobet, John Parsons, and William Parsons—and Foot-Ball Club Barcelona was born.
FC Barcelona had a successful start in regional and national cups, competing in the Campionat de Catalunya and the Copa del Rey. In 1902, the club won its first trophy, the Copa Macaya, and participated in the first Copa del Rey, losing 1–2 to Bizcaya in the final. Gamper became club president in 1908, the club in financial difficulty after not winning a competition since the Campionat de Catalunya in 1905. Club president on five separate occasions between 1908 and 1925, he spent 25 years in total at the helm. One of his main achievements was ensuring Barça acquire its own stadium and thus generate a stable income.
On 14 March 1909, the team moved into the Camp de la Indústria, a larger stadium with a seating capacity of 8,000 people. From 1910 to 1914 Barcelona participated in the Pyrenees Cup, which consisted of the best teams of Languedoc, Midi, Aquitaine (Southern France), the Basque Country, and Catalonia. At that time it was considered the finest competition open for participation. During the same period, the club changed its official language from Castilian to Catalan and gradually evolved into an important symbol of Catalan identity. For many fans, supporting the club had less to do with the game itself and more with being a part of the club's collective identity.
Gamper launched a campaign to recruit more club members, and by 1922 the club had over 20,000 members and was able to finance a new stadium. The club to moved to the new Les Corts, inaugurated the same year. Les Corts had an initial capacity of 22,000, which was later expanded to 60,000. Jack Greenwell was recruited as the first full-time manager, and the club's fortunes began to improve on the field. During the Gamper era, FC Barcelona won eleven Campionat de Catalunya, six Copas del Rey, and four Pyrenees Cups.
Rivera, Republic and Civil War (1923–1957)
Black-and-white photo of the city from high above. Smoke from a bomb can be seen
The aerial bombardment of Barcelona in 1938
On 14 June 1925, the crowd in the stadium jeered the national anthem in a spontaneous protest against Miguel Primo de Rivera's dictatorship. The ground was closed for six months as a reprisal, and Gamper was forced to relinquish the club presidency. This coincided with the club's transition to professionalism; in 1926 the directors of Barcelona publicly declared Barcelona a professional side for the first time. The club's 1928 victory in the Spanish Cup was celebrated with a poem titled "Oda a Platko", written by a member of the Generation of '27, poet Rafael Alberti, who was inspired by the "heroic performance" of the Barcelona keeper. On 30 July 1930, Gamper committed suicide after a period of depression brought on by personal and financial problems.
Although they continued to have players of the standing of Josep Escolà, the club entered a period of decline in which political conflict overshadowed sport throughout society. Although the team won the Campionat de Catalunya in 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1936, and 1938, success at a national level (with the exception of a disputed title in 1937) evaded them. A month after the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, several players from Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao enlisted in the ranks of those who fought against the military uprising. On 6 August, Josep Sunyol, the club president and representative of a pro-independence political party, was murdered by Falangist soldiers near Guadarrama. Dubbed the martyrdom of barcelonisme, the murder was a defining moment in the history of FC Barcelona. In the summer of 1937, the squad went on tour in Mexico and the United States, where it was received as an ambassador of the Second Spanish Republic. That tour secured the club financially, but also resulted in half the team seeking asylum in Mexico and France. On 16 March 1938, Barcelona came under aerial bombardment, resulting in over 3,000 deaths; one of the bombs hit the club's offices. Catalonia came under occupation a few months later. As a symbol of 'undisciplined' Catalanism, the club, down to just 3,486 members, faced a number of restrictions. After the Civil War, the Catalan flag was banned and football clubs were prohibited from using non-Spanish names. These measures forced the club to change its name to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and to remove the Catalan flag from its club shield.
In 1943, Barcelona faced rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Copa del Generalísimo. Their first match at Les Corts was won by Barcelona 3–0. Before the second leg, Barcelona's players had a changing room visit from Franco's director of state security. He "reminded" them that they were only playing due to the "generosity of the regime". Real Madrid dominated the match, winning 11–1. Despite the difficult political situation, CF Barcelona enjoyed considerable success during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1945, with Josep Samitier as managers and players like César, Ramallets, and Velasco, they won La Liga for the first time since 1929. They added to this total in 1948 and again in 1949. They also won the first Copa Latina that year. In June 1950, Barcelona signed Ladislao Kubala, who was to be an influential figure at the club.
On a rainy Sunday in 1951, the crowd left Les Corts stadium after a 2–1 win against Santander on foot, refusing to catch any trams and surprising the Francoist authorities. A tram strike was taking place in Barcelona, which received the support of blaugrana fans. Events such as this made the club represent much more than just Catalonia; many progressive Spaniards saw the club as a staunch defender of rights and freedoms.
Managers Ferdinand Daučík and László Kubala led the team to five different trophies including La Liga, the Copa del Generalísimo (now the Copa del Rey), the Copa Latina, the Copa Eva Duarte, and the Copa Martini Rossi in 1952. In 1953, the club won La Liga and the Copa del Generalísimo again.
Club de Fútbol Barcelona (1957–1978)
Barcelona stadium seen from above. It is a large and asymmetrically shaped dome.
The club's stadium, Camp Nou, was constructed with financial backing from the club's supporters in 1957.
With Helenio Herrera as manager, a young Luis Suárez, the European Footballer of the Year in 1960, and two influential Hungarians recommended by Kubala, Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor, the team won another national double in 1959 and a La Liga and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup double in 1960. In 1961 they became the first club to beat Real Madrid in European Cup competition, but lost 3–2 to Benfica in the final.
The 1960s were less successful for the club, with Real Madrid monopolising La Liga. The building of the Camp Nou, completed in 1957, meant the club had little money to spend on new players. On the positive side, the decade saw the emergence of Josep Maria Fusté and Carles Rexach, and the club won the Copa del Generalísimo in 1963 and the Fairs Cup in 1966. Barça restored some of its former pride by beating Real Madrid 1–0 in the 1968 Copa del Generalísimo final at the Bernabéu, in front of Franco, with former republican pilot Salvador Artigas as manager. The end of Franco's dictatorship in 1974 saw the club changing its official name back to Futbol Club Barcelona and reverting the crest to its original design, again including the original letters.
The 1973–74 season saw the arrival of Johan Cruyff, who was bought for a world record £920,000 from Ajax. Already an established player in Holland, Cruyff quickly won over the Barça fans when he told the European press he chose Barça over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with Franco. He further endeared himself when he chose the Catalan name Jordi, after the local saint, for his son. Next to players of quality like Juan Manuel Asensi, Carles Rexach, and Hugo Sotil, he helped the club win the La Liga title in 1973–74 for the first time since 1960, defeating Real Madrid 5–0 at the Bernabéu along the way. He was crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1973 during his first season with Barcelona (his second Ballon d'Or win; he won his first while playing for Ajax in 1971). Cruyff received this prestigious award a third time (the first player ever to do so) in 1974 while he was still with Barcelona.
Núñez and the stabilisation years (1978–2000)
Diego Armando Maradona playing with Barcelona.
Beginning with Josep Lluís Núñez in 1978, the president of FC Barcelona has been elected by the club members. This decision was closely tied to Spain's transition to democracy in 1974 and the end of Franco's dictatorship. Núñez's main objective was to develop Barça into a world-class club by giving it stability both on and off the pitch. On recommendation from Cruyff, Núñez inaugurated La Masia as Barcelona's youth academy on 20 October 1979. His presidency was to last for 22 years and it deeply affected the image of Barcelona, as Núñez held to a strict policy regarding wages and discipline, letting players such as Diego Maradona, Romário and Ronaldo go rather than meeting their demands.
On 16 May 1979, the club won its first UEFA Cup Winners' Cup by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4–3 in Basel in a final that was watched by more than 30,000 travelling blaugrana fans. In June 1982 Maradona was signed for a then-world record fee of £5 million from Boca Juniors. In the following season, under manager Menotti, Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, beating Real Madrid. Maradona's time with Barça was short-lived; he soon left for Napoli. At the start of the 1984–85 season Terry Venables was hired as manager, and he won La Liga with notable displays by German midfielder Bernd Schuster. The next season Venables took the team to their second European Cup final, only to lose on penalties to Steaua Bucureşti during a dramatic evening in Seville.
After the 1986 FIFA World Cup, English top scorer Gary Lineker was signed along with goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, but the team could not achieve success as Schuster was excluded from the team. Venables was fired at the beginning of the 1987–88 season and replaced with Luis Aragonés. The players rebelled against president Núñez in an event that became known as the Hesperia mutiny, and a 1–0 victory at the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad finished out the season.
photo of Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff won four consecutive La Liga titles as manager of Barcelona.
In 1988, Johan Cruyff returned to the club as manager and he assembled the so-called Dream Team. He used a mix of Spanish players like Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, and Txiki Begiristain while signing international stars such as Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário, and Hristo Stoichkov. Under his guidance, Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994. They beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 Cup Winners' Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley. They also won a Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992, and three Supercopa de España. With 11 trophies, Cruyff became the club's most successful manager, until being overtaken by Pep Guardiola in 2011. He also became the club's longest consecutive serving manager, serving 8 years. Cruyff's fortune changed in his final two seasons, when he failed to win any trophies and fell out with president Núñez, resulting in his departure.
Cruyff was briefly replaced by Bobby Robson, who took charge of the club for a single season in 1996–97. He recruited Ronaldo from PSV and delivered a cup treble, winning the Copa del Rey, Cup Winners Cup, and the Supercopa de España. Despite his success Robson was only ever seen as a short-term solution while the club waited for Louis van Gaal to become available. Like Maradona, Ronaldo only stayed a short time as he left for Internazionale. However, new heroes such as Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert, Luis Enrique, and Rivaldo emerged and the team won a Copa del Rey and La Liga double in 1998. In 1999 the club celebrated its 'centenari', winning the Primera División title. Rivaldo became the fourth Barça player to be awarded European Footballer of the Year. Despite this domestic success, the failure to emulate Real Madrid in the Champions League led to van Gaal and Núñez resigning in 2000.
Exit Núñez, enter Laporta (2000–2008)
Ronaldinho, 2005 Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player.
The departures of Núñez and van Gaal were nothing compared to that of Luís Figo. As well as club vice-captain, Figo had become a cult hero and was considered by Catalans to be one of their own. Barça fans were distraught by Figo's decision to join arch-rivals Real Madrid, and during subsequent visits to the Camp Nou, he was given an extremely hostile reception. Upon his first return a piglet's head and a full bottle of whiskey were thrown at him from the crowd. President Núñez was replaced by Joan Gaspart in 2000, and the three years he was in charge, saw the club decline and managers came and went; van Gaal served a second term. Gaspart did not inspire confidence off the field either and in 2003, he and van Gaal resigned.
After the disappointment of the Gaspart era, the club bounced back with the combination of a new young president, Joan Laporta, and a young new manager, former Dutch player Frank Rijkaard. On the field, an influx of international players combined with home-grown Spanish players led to the club's return to success. Barça won La Liga and the Supercopa de España in 2004–05, and the team's midfielder, Ronaldinho, won the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
In the 2005–06 season, Barcelona repeated their league and Supercup successes. In the Champions League, Barça beat English club Arsenal 2–1 in the final. Trailing 1–0 to a 10-man Arsenal and with less than 15 minutes left, they came back to win 2–1 for the club's first European Cup victory in 14 years. They took part in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup, but were beaten by a late goal in the final against Brazilian side Internacional. Despite being the favourites and starting strongly, Barcelona finished the 2006–07 season without trophies. A pre-season U.S. tour and open feud between the player Samuel Eto'o and Rijkaard was later blamed for the lack of trophies. In La Liga, Barça were in first place for much of the season, but their inconsistency in the new year allowed Real Madrid to overtake them to become champions.
The Guardiola Era (2008–)
The 2007–08 season was unsuccessful, and as Barça failed to emulate the success of previous years, Barça B youth manager Josep Guardiola took over Frank Rijkaard's duties at the conclusion of the season. Josep Guardiola brought with him the now famous tiki-taka style of play which he had been taught during his time in the Barcelona youth teams. In the process Guardiola sold Ronaldinho and Deco, and started building the Barcelona team around Xavi, Iniesta and Messi.
Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Barça beat Athletic Bilbao 4–1 in the 2009 Copa del Rey Final, winning the competition for a record-breaking 25th time. A historic 2–6 victory against Real Madrid followed three days later and ensured that Barcelona became La Liga champions for the 2008–09 season. Barça finished the season by beating the previous year's Champions League winners Manchester United 2–0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to win their third Champions League title and completed the first ever treble won by a Spanish side. The team went on to win the 2009 Supercopa de España against Athletic Bilbao and the 2009 UEFA Super Cup against Shakhtar Donetsk, becoming the first European club to win both domestic and European Super Cups following a treble. In December 2009, Barcelona won the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, and became the first football club ever to accomplish the sextuple. Barcelona accomplished two new records in Spanish football in 2010 as they retained the La Liga trophy with 99 points and won the Spanish Super Cup trophy for a ninth time.
After Laporta's departure from the club in June 2010, Sandro Rosell was soon elected as the new president. The elections were held on June 13, where he got 61.35% (57,088 votes, a record) of total votes. Rosell signed David Villa from Valencia for €40M and Javier Mascherano from Liverpool for €19M. In November 2010, Barcelona defeated their main rival, Real Madrid 5–0 in El Clásico. In the 2010–11 season, Barcelona retained the La Liga trophy, their third title in succession, finishing with 96 points. In April 2011, the club reached the Copa del Rey final, losing 1–0 to Real Madrid at the Mestalla in Valencia. In May, Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League Final 3–1 held at Wembley Stadium, a repeat of the 2009 final, winning their fourth European Cup. In August 2011, the La Masia graduate Cesc Fàbregas was bought from Arsenal and who would help Barcelona defend the Spanish Supercup against Real Madrid. The Supercup victory brought the total amount of official trophies to 73, matching the number of titles won by Real Madrid.
Later the same month, Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup defeating FC Porto thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Cesc Fábregas, thus extending the club's overall amount of official trophies to 74, surpassing Real Madrid's total amount of official trophies. The UEFA Super Cup victory also marked another impressive achievement as Josep Guardiola won his 12th trophy out of 15 possible in only 3 years at the helm of the club, becoming the all-time record holder of most titles won as a coach at FC Barcelona.
In December the same year FC Barcelona won the FIFA Club World Cup for a record second time since its establishment by beating the Brazilian 2011 Copa Libertadores holders, Santos FC, 4-0 in the final thanks to two goals from Lionel Messi and goals from Xavi and Fábregas.
As a result the overall trophy haul during the reign of Guardiola was further extended and saw FC Barcelona win their 13th trophy out of 16 possible in 3.5 years, thus confirming their recent domination in world football