On 29 November 1899, Joan Gamper founded FC Barcelona, along with eleven other enthusiasts of ‘foot-ball’, a game that was still largely unknown in the country at the time.
On 29 November 1899, Joan Gamper founded FC Barcelona, along with eleven other enthusiasts of ‘foot-ball’, a game that was still largely unknown in the country at the time. He could never have imagined the magnitude of what that initiative would eventually develop into. Over more than one hundred years of history, FC Barcelona has grown spectacularly in every area and has progressed into something much greater than a mere sports club, turning Barça’s ‘more than a club’ slogan into a reality.
Barça has become, for millions of people all around the world, a symbol of their identity, and not just in a sporting sense, but also in terms of society, politics and culture. Throughout the most difficult of times, Barça was the standard that represented Catalonia and the Catalan people’s desire for freedom, a symbolism that has continued to be closely linked to the idiosyncrasy of the Club and its members to this day. Within the context of Spain, Barça is seen as an open and democratic club. And all around the world, Barça is identified with caring for causes, and more especially children through its sponsorship agreement with Unicef.
With over one hundred years of history, there have naturally been many different periods, both in a social and a sporting sense. In the early years (1899-1922), from the foundation of the club to the construction of Les Corts stadium, Barça was a club that had to distinguish itself from all the other football teams in Barcelona, to the point that it would come to be identified with the whole city. Barça soon became the leading club in Catalonia and associated itself with the increasingly growing sense of Catalan national identity.
From the construction of the Camp Nou to the 75th anniversary (1957-1974), Barça suffered mediocre results but was consolidated as an entity, with a constantly increasing membership and the slow but steady recovery, in the face of adversity, of its identity. A very clear sensation that was manifested for the first time ever in the words ‘Barça, more than a club’ proclaimed by president Narcís de Carreras. The board presided by Agustí Montal brought a player to Barcelona who would change the history of the club, Johan Cruyff.
From the 7th anniversary to the European Cup (1974-1992) the club saw the conversion of football clubs to democracy, the start of Josep Lluís Núñez’s long presidency, the extension of the Camp Nou on the occasion of the 1982 World Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in Basel (1979), a major success not just in a sporting sense but also in a social one, with an enormous and exemplary expedition of Barça supporters demonstrating to Europe the unity of the Barcelona and Catalan flags. Cruyff returned, this time as coach, and created what would come to be known as the ‘Dream Team’ (1990-1994), whose crowning glory was the conquest of the European Cup at Wembley (1992), thanks to Koeman’s famous goal.
In the season 2008/09 the arrival of Josep Guardiola as first team coach brought new energy to the club and they recorded the most successful season in their entire history winning the six titles that will be forever burned into the memories of all Barça fans. Success on the field has helped the club expand its social role and heighten its media profile. In the 2009/10 season, Guardiola’s second in charge, the Liga title was won for the second year in a row, and the twentieth on club history, setting a new record of 99 points in the process. The title was not decided until the very last day, with a game against Valladolid, and the celebrations went ahead that very same evening in the company of the fans at the Camp Nou.
Under the presidency of Sandro Rosell (2010-14), the sporting glory continued with the league and Champions League double in 2010/11 and the World Club Cup and the Spanish Cup in the season 2011/12, the latter being the last trophy claimed by Josep Guardiola as coach. Later, the league title in 2012/13 would be added with Tito Vilanova as coach in the 100 points campaign. In the season 2014/15 with Josep Maria Bartomeu as president and with Luis Enrique as coach, Barça recorded the second treble in their history, winning the league, the Spanish Cup and the Champions League.
The grandeur of FC Barcelona is explained, among many other factors, by its impressive honours list. Very few clubs anywhere in the world have won so many titles. The Intercontinental Cup is the only major football trophy that has never made its way into the club museum, where the club’s greatest pride and joy remain the three European Cup titles won in Wembley (1992) Paris (2006), Rome (2009), Wembley (2011) and Berlin (2015) and the FIFA Club World Cups in 2009 in Abu Dhabi and 2011 and 2015 in Yokohama.
Apart from winning Europe’s top title, the Club also has the honour of being the only one to have appeared in every single edition of European club competition since the tournaments were first created back in 1955. Barcelona’s many achievements in Europe include being considered ‘King of the Cup Winners Cup’, having won that title a record four times. In addition, FC Barcelona also won three Fairs Cups (the tournament now known as the UEFA Europa League) in 1958, 1960 and 1966. In 1971, Barça won that trophy outright in a match played between themselves, as the first ever winners of the competition, and Leeds United, as the last.