A Brief History of FC Barcelona

More Than a Club

Domestic Competitions

La Liga Winners (24): 1928–29, 1944–45, 1947–48, 1948–49, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1973–74, 1984–85, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13. 2014-15, 2015-16

Copa del Rey Winners (29): 1909–10, 1911–12, 1912–13, 1919–20, 1921–22, 1924–25, 1925–26, 1927–28, 1941–42, 1950–51, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1956–57, 1958–59, 1962–63, 1967–68, 1970–71, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1982–83, 1987–88, 1989–90, 1996–97, 1997–98, 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17

Supercopa de España Winners (12): 1983, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016

Copa Eva Duarte (forerunner to the Supercopa de España) Winners (2): 1948, 1952

Copa de la Liga Winners (2): 1982–83, 1985–86

European Competitions

European Cup/UEFA Champions League Winners (5): 1991–92, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014-15

European Cup Winners' Cup / UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Winners (4): 1978–79, 1981–82, 1988–89, 1996–97

Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (forerunner to the UEFA Europa League) Winners (3): 1955–58, 1958–60, 1965–66

European Super Cup/UEFA Super Cup Winners (5): 1992, 1997, 2009, 2011, 2015

World Competitions

FIFA Club World Cup Winners (3): 2009, 2011, 2015 Runners-up (1): 2006

Intercontinental Cup Runners-up (1): 1992


Founding and Early Years (1899-1922)

FC Barcelona was founded by Swiss businessman, Hans Gamper, together with a mixed group of foreign and Catalan sportsmen, at a time when the exotic game of football was becoming popular amongst the monied classes of the city of Barcelona.

Gamper placed an advertisement in the the sports newspaper Los Deportes calling a meeting at Gimnasio Solé, just off The Ramblas, on November 29th 1899, for anyone interested organising some football matches.

Apart from Gamper, amongst those present were many of the early Football Club Barcelona players, Walter Wild, Lluis d'Ossó, Bartomeu Terrades, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Carles Pujol, Josep Llobet, John Parsons and William Parsons.

At the meeting, Walter 'Gualterio' Wild was elected first president and the first game in the history of FC Barcelona was played at the Velòdrom de la Bonanova, now Turó Park, on December 8th 1899 against a team of British expats.

FC Barcelona lost that first game 1-0 but a couple of weeks later on December 24th, the team won its first match against Català FC with a 3-1 scoreline.

In November 1900, the club moved to the ground at Mas Casanovas close to where Hospital de Sant Pau now stands on Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret.

On November 20th 1900, around 4,000 fans attended the first game at the new ground against Hispania, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

In 1901, Barça won it's first Copa Macaya, a competition which would develop into the Campionat de Catalunya and in 1902 competed in the first Copa del Rey, losing 1–2 to Bizcaya in the final after having knocked out Madrid FC in the semi-final in the first Clásico in history.

The team played at various different grounds, including Carretera d'Horta (1901) and Carrer Muntaner (1905) until March 14th 1909, when Barça played its first game at the ground on Carrer de la Indústria.

The Camp del Carrer Indústria stadium, located between Carrer Villaroel and Carrer Paris, was known as L'Escopidora or Spitoon and was used by the club until 1922.

It had a capacity of 6,000 and the building of the two-tier tribuna stand was considered revolutionary at the time.

The image of the line of fans' bottoms as you looked up at the top of the wall as you walked along Carrer de la Indústria is how FC Barcelona supporters got the nickname culers.

To celebrate the opening of the new stadium, the club organised a logo contest, which was won by player Carles Comamala, who designed the FC Barcelona club crest, which with some minor changes is still used today.

FC Barcelona began playing against French and Basque teams in the prestigious Pyrenees Cup, which it won four years consecutively from 1910 to 1913.

In 1908, Hans Kamper, who by now was known as Joan Gamper, had become club president, a position which he was to occupy on and off for the next 17 years and in 1917, Gamper hired Jack Greenwell as the club's first full-time professional coach.

During the same period, the club changed its official language from Castilian to Catalan and, as FC Barcelona evolved into an important symbol of Catalan identity, membership increased so that by 1922, the club had more than 20,000 members.

First Golden Age and Civil War (1922-1939)

On March 20th of that year the club moved to its new Camp de Les Corts ground, with a capacity of 25,000, which was later expanded to 60,000, and the 1920s marked the first Golden Age in the history of FC Barcelona.

The side included legends such as Paulinho Alcantara, for many years club's top goalscorer with 356 goals until his record was recently broken by Lionel Messi, goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, who would return to play for Español, and most of all Josep Samitier, who was known as L'Home Llagosta or Lobster Man because of his acrobatic playing style.

With former player Romà Forns as coach, FC Barcelona won four Copas de España as well as the very first Liga in history, in the 1928-29 season.

The period also coincided with Spain's first 20th century military dictatorship, under Miguel Primo de Rivera from 1923 to 1930, and the club's increasing identification with Catalanism brought it into conflict with the Spanish authorities.

The best-known incident occurred on June 14th 1925 during a game in honour of L'Orfeó Català against CE Júpiter, when a British navy band from a ship docked in the Port of Barcelona came to play at the stadium.

When the band struck up the Spanish national anthem, the crowd began jeering and booing, but when the confused conductor switched to the English national anthem, everyone started cheering.

The incident led to the closing of the Camp de Les Corts for six months and the resignation of Joan Gamper as president.

On July 30th 1930, Gamper was found dead at his home in Barcelona.

He had committed suicide due to business and financial difficulties and the death of the founder heralded the start of a period of decline for FC Barcelona.

With the advent of the Second Republic, political conflict overshadowed sport and attendances dropped with membership falling to less than 2,500 by the end of the decade.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936, several Barça players enlisted in the ranks of those who fought against the military uprising.

On August 6th 1936, FC Barcelona president Josep Sunyol, who was also a parliametary deputy for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, was caught by nationalist troops in the Sierra de Guadarrama and murdered.

Plagued by financial difficulties, in 1937 the club went on a tour of Mexico and the United States, where the players were received as ambassadors of the Second Spanish Republic.

The tour led to the financial security of the club, but also resulted in half of the team seeking asylum in Mexico and France, making it harder for the remaining team to contest for trophies.

On 16 March 1938, Barcelona came under aerial bombardment from the Italian Air Force, causing more than 3,000 deaths, with one of the bombs hitting the FC Barcelona club offices on Carrer Consell de Cent.

Barça under Franco

In early 1939, Catalonia came under nationalist occupation and all signs of Catalanism were banned, including the flag and the language.

By 1940 Franco's dictatorship was firmly established and Football Club Barcelona was prohibited from using non-Spanish names, which meant it was forced to change its name to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and remove the Catalan flag from its crest.

Until 1953, the regime would nominate the club president and playing conditions were often far from fair for the Catalan side.

In 1943, Barcelona faced rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Copa del Generalísimo (now the Copa del Rey).

Barcelona won the first leg at Les Corts 3–0 but during the second leg in Madrid, Barcelona's players were allegedly threatened by police in the changing room and Real Madrid comfortably won the match, beating Barcelona 11–1.

However, overall, the 1940s were a reasonably successful period with Club de Fútbol Barcelona winning three Ligas and five Copas del Generalísimo as well as other titles, including the first Copa Latina in 1949.

1949 was also the club's Golden Anniversary and Barça could celebrate with more than 25,000 members.

The 1950s were to be one of the legendary periods for the club both in sporting and social terms and the decade began with the signing of Ladislao Kubala in 1950.

The following 1951-52 season C F Barcelona won five trophies - La Liga, the Copa del Generalísimo, the Copa Latina, the Copa Eva Duarte, and the Copa Martini Rossi - and the side went down in history as the Barça de les Cinc Copes or Barça of the Five Cups.

This was a particularly bitter pill for the regime as earlier in the same season after a 2-1 victory over Racing de Santander, Barça supporters had observed a tram strike and walked back into the centre of town in the rain so the club was still seen as a symbol of Catalanism and anti-Francoism.

It's not surprising then that the dictatorship was keen to limit CF Barcelona's success and in 1953, when everything seemed a foregone conclusion, plans to sign Argentinian star Alfredo di Stefano were foiled.

CF Barcelona had come to an agreement with River Plate and di Stefano had even played a couple of friendlies with the Catalan team but then Real Madrid announced that it had signed a deal wth Milionarios, who technically owned the rights to the Argentinian star.

After a long drawn out affair, the Spanish government announcement that di Stefano would play alternative seasons for Real Madrid and CF Barcelona but the Barcelona board ended up giving up on rights to the Argentinian and resigning in protest.

With di Stefano as the cornerstone of their classic 1950s side, it was from this moment onwards that Real Madrid began to dominate Spanish and European football.

Despite the opposition of the regime, CF Barcelona continued growing and in 1957, with 38,000 members, the club opened the new Camp Nou stadium.

With Helenio Herrera as coach, 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 Fairs Cup double in 1960.

In 1961 European Cup semi-finals, CF Barcelona became the first club to beat Real Madrid in a European Cup play-off, before losing 2–3 to Benfica in the final.

Defeat in the European Cup final and the loss of Luis Suárez to Inter Milan, sparked off a long crisis, which was to last the next decade and wasn't helped by the fact that the cost of Camp Nou meant the club had little money to spend on new players.

The 1960s were dominated by Real Madrid and to a lesser extent by Atlético de Madrid, who won the majority of Spanish domestic titles between them.

CF Barcelona won the Copa del Generalísimo in 1963 and the Fairs Cup in 1966 and in 1968, in a notorious game in Santiago Bernabéu in front of Franco, beat Real Madrid 1-0 to win the final of the Copa del Generalísimo.

Earlier that year, as a result of a speech by club president Narcís de Carreras on January 17th 1968, the slogan 'Més que un club' - 'More than a club' was coined so Barça remained a symbol central to Catalanist opposition to the Franco regime.

With the dictatorship on its last legs, the 1973-74 season saw the arrival of Johan Cruyff, who was signed from Ajax for a record 60 million pesetas (£920,000).

Cruyff quickly won over the Barcelona fans when he told the European press that he chose Barcelona over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with Franco.

He further endeared himself to Catalans when he named his son after the Catalan saint, Jordi, at a time when Catalan Christian names were still illegal in Spain.

Apart from winning the Liga for the first time since 1960 in that first season, one of the most satisfying moments of Cruyff's period as a player was beating Real Madrid 5-0 in Camp Nou along the way.

In 1974, just before Franco's death in 1975, to commemorate the 75th anniversary, the club changed its name back to Futbol Club Barcelona, the crest back to its original design and also commissioned the present anthem, El Cant del Barça in Catalan.

The Nuñez Years

In 1978, Josep Lluís Núñez became the first elected president of FC Barcelona and although the 1980s saw the arrival of stars such as Maradona, Schuster and Lineker, the side only managed to win a Liga, three Copas del Rey, a Supercopa and two Copas de la Liga.

On an international level, FC Barcelona were slightly more successful with a European Cup Winners' Cup victory against Dusseldorf in 1979, another against Standard Liege in 1982 and a third against Sampdoria in 1989.

However, one of the black moments for the club came in 1986, when FC Barcelona lost the final of the European Cup against Steau Bucharest on Spanish soil in Seville.

The Cup Winners' Cup against Sampdoria was one of the few early successes of Johan Cruyff, who had been taken on as coach at the start of the 1988-89 season, but as the 1990s began, FC Barcelona was about to enter another Golden Age.

Led by Johan Cruyff and Charly Rexach, the side, which became known as the Dream Team, featured players of the calibre of Ronald Koeman, Josep Guardiola, Hristo Stoichkov, Romário de Souza, Michael Laudrup, Andoni Zubizarreta or Jose Mari Bakero.

During this period in the history of FC Barcelona, the club won four consecutive Ligas between 1991 and 1994, three Spanish Supercopas, a Copa del Rey, a European Supercup and on May 20th 1992, the most prized trophy of them all, the first European Cup against Sampdoria in the legendary Wembley Stadium.

In the 1993-94 season FC Barcelona had the satisfaction of beating Real Madrid 5-0 once again with a hat trick from Romario but the Dream Team sadly came to an end end when the side was given a 4-0 drubbing by AC Milan in the final of the European Cup in Athens in 1994.

Cruyff brought in new players and tried to rebuild the team but the 1994-95 season was trophyless for the first time since 1988 and after various disputes with Nuñez, Cruyff ended up being sacked two games before the end of the 1995-96 season.

Veteran English coach, Bobby Robson arrived for the 1996-97 season and due to the Bosman Law was able to bring a clutch of players, including Luis Enrique, Pizzi, Laurent Blanc and most notably Ronaldo, who was signed from PSV Eindhoven for 2,500 million pesetas.

Ronaldo was Liga top goalscorer and helped the side win a Spanish Supercopa, another European Cup Winners' Cup and a Copa del Rey but Robson, who incidentally had arrived with a young Jose Mourinho, was only ever seen as a stop gap and was replaced by Louis Van Gaal at the end of the season.

Ronaldo left the club for Inter before finally ending up at Real Madrid and, despite bringing in new players, Van Gaal had two not particularly successful seasons before winning the Liga title in the Centenary 1998-99 season, wth a side based around the excellent Rivaldo, who also won European Footballer of the Year that season.

The 1999-2000 not only brought the Nuñez era to an end but also the resignation of Louis Van Gaal, who faced with dissatisfaction from the fans had a particularly poor relationship with the press.

Elections were held on July 27th 2000 and, under the shadow of the lobby group Elefant Blau led by Joan Laporta, Joan Gaspart was elected president of FC Barcelona.

The Gaspart era began with the unexpected poaching of Barça star Luis Figo by Real Madrid and although more star players were signed only went from bad to worse as Real Madrid began its Galáctico period under Florentino Perez.

Neither Llorenç Serra Ferrer nor Carles Rexach were able to put together a trophy-winning side and, in 2003, Gaspart was briefly replaced by Enric Reyna before a Management Commission under Joan Trayter took control of a club in crisis.

Barça in the 21st Century

Joan Laporta's victory in the elections of 2003 marked a radical change in the direction of the club and a complete break with the past and the Nuñez era.

Laporta brought Txiki Beguiristain as Technical Director and an inexperienced Frank Rijkaard as coach, who began to build a side around the young Brazilian Ronaldinho as well as other promising players such as Deco and Eto'o.

This new side won the Liga title in 2004-05 and in a stroke of bad luck were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea.

They repeated the Liga title the following season, which included beating Real Madrid 3-0 in the Santiago Bernabéu, a game in which Ronaldinho gained a standing ovation from the Madrid crowd.

However, following victories over Chelsea, Benfica and Milan, the major success was the final of the Champions League in Paris on May 17th 2006, when FC Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1.

On June 1st 2006, the club opened the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despí but, in July, a series of events destablised the club with Joan Laporta being forced to resign and a Management Commission taking control before Laporta was reelected in September.

The institutional crisis was reflected on the field and in an atmosphere of genalised player indiscipline, particularly from Ronaldinho, the side went two seasons without winning any significant trophies.

At the end of the 2007-08 season Rijkaard ended up resigning and Ronaldinho and Deco were sold to AC Milan and Chelsea respectively.

The surprise at the start of the 2008-09 season was to take trust former player Josep Guardiola, at the time in charge of Barça B, with coaching the first team, despite his relative lack of experience.

That first season Barça won their first Copa del Rey of the decade, beating Athletic Club 4-1, and a couple weeks later took their first Liga title, with the 2-6 thrashing of Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabéu probably being the highlight of the season.

To round off a great season, after knocking out Olympic de Lyon, Bayern Munich and Chelsea in an incredible semi-final, in Rome on May 29th, FC Barcelona won their third Champions League beating Manchester United 2-0 with goals from Eto'o and Messi.

At the beginning of the 2009-10 season, the side won Spanish and European Supercups and the best year in the history of FC Barcelona was completed with Leo Messi winning the Balon d'Or for the first time and the first team winning the FIFA World Clubs Championship, making it the Barça of the Six Cups.

In the following 2010-11 season, FC Barcelona won the Liga, the Spanish Supercopa and the fourth Champions League both at Wembley Stadium and against Manchester United once again with a scoreline of 3-1.

The dominance of Barcelona football was clear that season as Lionel Messi won his second consecutive Balon d'Or with Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernàndez coming second and third respetively.

In Guardiola's final season (2011-12), the side won its fourth Spanish Supercopa and the second FIFA World Clubs Championship beating Santos 4-0 and Messi won his third consecutive Balon d'Or but Real Madrid won the Liga title.

On April 27th 2012 Pep Guardiola announced that he wouldn't be continuing as coach and two weeks later on May 10 FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell announced that his place would be taken by second coach Tito Vilanova.

On July 21st Tito Vilanova signed his contract as first team coach and in the press conference assured that he couldn't compare to Guardiola.

Despite losing the Spanish Supercopa to Real Madrid and Tito Vilanova suffering a second period of throat cancer, the side completed the best first half of a season in Liga history with 18 victories and a draw and a total of 55 points.

The side finally lost to Real Sociedad in the fourth game of the second round but went on to win the fourth Liga title in five years with a final total of 100 points and Messi also won his fourth consecutive Balon d'Or that season.

Just before the 2013-14 season was about to start, FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell announced that Tito would not be continuing as first team coach due another bout of throat cancer and that his place would be taken by Argentinian Gerard 'Tata' Martino.

Despite a promising start winning the Supercopa, Martino never really convinced the fans and the club also suffered an institutional crisis over alleged misconduct in the signing of Brazilian star Neymar and president Sandro Rosell was forced to resign.

His place was taken by Josep Maria Bartomeu but the side finished the season without winning any more titles and two days after the last game on May 19th 2014 Bartomeu announced that Martino's by former player Luis Enrique Martínez. 

The Luis Enrique Era

Luis Enrique began his new tenure by making a few signings, most notably Rakitic and Luis Suárez, who wasn't able to debut until the first Clásico in October due to his ban for biting Italian defender Chiellini.

The season began slowly but once Suárez was in the side he soon clicked with Messi and Neymar to lay the foundations of the legendary MSN Trident in attack.

The season finished brilliantly with Barça winning the Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League Triple.

The 2015-16 season began in a similar dazzling veign and Barça duly won their third World Clubs Cup in December.

With an impressive lead at the top of La Liga, Barcelona looked set to win everything until a two-week crisis in March led to defeat against Real Madrid, getting knocked out of the Champions League by Atlético and losing most of their top of the table advantage.

The side soon got back on track and won La Liga as well as winning the final of the Copa del Rey against Sevilla.

Luis Enrique's third and final season as Barça coach was less successful with the only trophies being the Spanish Super Cup at the start and the Copa del Rey and evidently exhausted by top class coaching, towards the end of the season, the Asturian announced he would be leaving the job.

The end of the 2016-17 season also saw to Neymar's transfer PSG.

Luis Enrique's replacement at the start of 2017-18 was Ernesto Valverde, who had shown his ability with clubs such as RCD Espanyol or Athletic Bilbao but hadn't yet proved himself in the top flight.

So far things have gone very well and with the main signings of Paulinho and Dembele at the start of the season and Coutinho during the January transfer window, it looks like this is going to be a very successful season.

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