The FC Barcelona is a club with many superlatives: with approximately 162,000 members it is the second largest sports club in the world. With Camp Nou it owns the largest football stadium in Europe and no other European football club has more fan communities. In 2009/10, the team made a profit of 9 million € on a turnover of 445 million €.
For the Catalans, the FC Barcelona is one of the most important icons of the Catalan national pride. It is also a symbol of resistance against the suppression they had to experience, especially by the Franco regime.
With these facts in mind, and true to the club’s motto „More than a club“, we now want to tell you the about the history and backgrounds of the FC Barcelona.
A home game of FC Barcelona at Camp Nou, Europe's largest stadium, is a special experience.
Since its foundation in 1899, the FC Barcelona has experienced many ups and downs: Sporting successes like winning the Champions League and five cups in one year are just two of the many highlights. On the other hand, the club’s president Josep Suñol being murdered by Franco’s soldiers was one of many downs in the history of the traditional club.
Hans-Max Gamper was born in Winterthur, Switzerland on November 22, 1877. After his mother died, the family of the keen sportsman moved to Zurich. He liked riding the bike, running and playing rugby, tennis and golf and even was captain of the football team FC Basel. In 1897, work took him to Lyon. Just one year later he was supposed to go to Africa where he wanted to help setting up sugar trading companies. On his way there (back then there were no scheduled flights) he visited his uncle Emili Gaissert in Barcelona. Gamper fell in love with the city, learned Spanish and Catalan and adopted the Catalan version of his name, Joan.
Joan Gamper edited the sports magazine Los Deportes ("sports"), in which on October 22 in 1899 he placed an advert declaring his wish to found a football club in Barcelona. There was a large positive feedback. On November 29, a couple of Swiss, British, Catalan and Spanish football enthusiasts met and the FC Barcelona was born, the founding members being Joan Gamper, Pere Cabot, Enric Ducal, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Josep Llobet, Lluís d'Ossó, John Parsons, William Parsons, Carles Pujol, Bartomeu Terradas and Gualteri Wild.
The first president of the club was the Englishman Gualteri Wild, Gamper played in the team as captain.
The FC Barcelona lost its very first match against English immigrants 0-1. Some of the English players though were borrowed from the FC Barcelona.
In 1908, Gamper became president of the club. He would occupy this position five times until 1925. One of his main achievements was the construction of the first stadium La Escopidora with capacity for 6,000 spectators. It was opened on Carrer d´ Indústria on March 14, 1909 and was the first stadium with floodlight in Spain. Until then, the FC Barcelona had played on fields near the Hotel Casanova, around Carretera d´Horta and Carrer Muntaner. At that time the FC Barcelona counted approximately 600 members.
Interesting and useful information about the FC Barcelona:
Gamper´s final presidency ended in a controversy. On June 25 in 1925, during an international match against England, Catalan fans jeered the Spanish national anthem and applauded the English one. The dictator Prima de Rivera – a fan of Real Madrid – accused Gamper of promoting Catalan nationalism, expelled him from Spain and closed the stadium for six months.
Ever since this event, the FC Barcelona considers itself the national team of Catalonia. Even today, for many Catalans the Spanish national team does not represent the region of Catalonia. This attitude has changed somewhat, though not essentially, when Catalan players represented a large part of the Spanish national team in the UEFA European Football Championship in 2008.
After being expelled, Gamper returned to Switzerland. He suffered from depression and committed suicide on July, 1930, aged 52. In Barcelona, a street was named after him and his FC Barcelona number was being retired forever.
In 1922, the new stadium El Camps dels Corts with a capacity of 30,000 was inaugurated. In that decade, the FC Barcelona experienced many sporting highlights here: in 1929 they won the first ever national league game (La Liga), eight times the Catalan League and five times the Spanish Cup.
The stadium’s capacity was expanded to 60,000 later, and it was dubbed “Cathedral of football”.
In the early 1930s, the FC Barcelona went through difficult times and faced a crisis on three fronts: The team got into financial trouble, the number of members dropped and on the sporting side, success evaded them, too.
The fascist dictator Primo de Rivera who also had expelled Gamper from Spain closed the stadium, which served as a military camp during the Spanish Civil War.
A month after the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (July 1936 to April 1939), the team’s president Josep Sunyol was murdered by Franco’s soldiers on August 6, 1936. At that time the team was on a tour in Mexico and the USA though half of the team had already seeked exile in Mexico and France.
On March 16, 1938, a bomb was dropped on the club building and caused big damages. In March 1940, the chair was replaced by Franco-devoted officials, and the name Futbol Club Barcelona, an Anglicism, was changed to the Spanish “Club de Fútbol Barcelona”. At this moment, the FC Barcelona was down to just 3,500 members. The four red stripes of the club emblem were replaced by two stripes. It was not before 1973 that the club got back its original name.
In the 1940s, the CF Barcelona enjoyed considerable sporting success. From near relegation, the club won the championship in 1940. Until 1949, the 50th anniversary of FC Barcelona, the club had around 25,000 members and won 21 Catalan Championship matches, 9 trophies and 4 times the Spanish Primera División (First Division) title.
During the season of 1951/52, Barça won five trophies: La Liga, la Copa del Rey, the Latin Cup, the Eva Duarte trophy and the Martini Rossi trophy. The team of those days is called the “Barça of the Five Trophies“. The permanent success led to increasing membership numbers. In 1950, the FC Barcelona counted 30,000 members.
The number of members of the FC Barcelona and of their fans kept rising in the 1950s so that soon a new, larger stadium was needed. On September 24, 1957, the new stadium Camp Nou with a capacity for 90 000 spectators was inaugurated after three years of construction. During the first three years in the new stadium, the team was rather unsuccessful, but the number of members never stopped growing. One of the biggest attractions of following Barça was its increasing symbolism of Catalan identity.
Camp Nou, the stadium of FC Barcelona, is the largest in Europe. And it is aggravated further.
The construction of the new stadium was overshadowed by the club’s financial troubles. The estimated construction costs of approx. 66.6 million pesetas were exceeded by 221.4 million pesetas. Mortgages and short-term credits had to be raised. Further help came from the penyes, the fan communities, which is why today they have quite a say when it comes to club matters.
In 2003, the English architect Norman Foster was assigned to extend the stadium’s capacity by another 30 000 seats.
There is more information on Camp Nou on our website "The Camp Nou stadium of Barcelona".
It was president Narcís de Carreras who proclaimed the slogan "Barça, més que un club" in his presidential acceptance speech in January of 1968 that is still today the motto of the club.
Barça was more than just a sports club, despite or maybe because of the restrictions and despotism the club had to suffer during the Franco regime. It turned into a symbol of the Catalan striving for independence and the opposition against the Franco regime. With this symbol, Carreras showed the solidarity between the club and his Catalan fans.
The FC Barcelona was very popular in these days and the number of new members increased enormously, thus the club gained political influence in Barcelona. This way, a new president could be appointed who was not a Franco-devoted official. Free elections could not be held at this time.
President Agustí Montal i Costa (1969–1977), Carrera’s successor, kept on leading the club with the new motto. He fought against the restrictions that Franco’s sport authority had enforced upon the club and for democracy within the athletic unions and clubs. He thus went on a straight collision course with the sport authority.
After severe discussions with the sport authority, a new player, the Dutchman Johann Cruyff, joined the team in 1973. The authority had established random regulations on the status of foreign players with Spanish parents.
Still, Cruyff played his first match on October 28, 1973. He quickly won the hearts of the Catalan fans having chosen Barça over Real Madrid and a Catalan name for his son Jordi (the name of the patron saint of Catalonia). He helped the club win on several occasions and soon became one of the most important personalities in the history of the Barça.
1974, in the year of its 75th anniversary, with Cryuff´s help the FC Barcelona won the Spanish championship and – probably even more important – defeated Read Madrid 5-0 at their Bernabéu stadium.
Three years after Franco’s death, democracy was introduced to the FC Barcelona just as Agusti Montal had demanded: In 1978, Josep Lluís Núñez was elected president of the FC Barcelona in the first open elections with the members of the club voting. It was a tight victory over two other candidates, and Josep Lluís Núñez remained in office until 2000, being the longest-serving president in the entire history of the club.
In the late 1980s, the FC Barcelona once again was unsuccessful. It came to a rebellion of the players against president Núñez known as the Motín de Hesperia (Hesperia Mutiny) in which the team demanded the board’s resignation. The situation changed when in 1988 Johan Cryuff returned to the FC Barcelona as trainer. He started introducing new playing methods and reassembled the team. Under Cryuff’s guidance, the FC Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994 and for the first time the European Cup in 1992.
The sporting success of the team in its present constellation was so great that it went down in the history of the FC Barcelona as the “Dream Team”. In 1994 the era of the “Dream Team” ended with the defeat in the UEFA Champions League final in Athens.
By the time the World Cup of 1992 took place, the capacity of the stadium was enlarged and the Miniestadi (small stadium) was built next to it for the second team.
The circumstances of Cruyff´s leaving the FC Barcelona were extremely disputed and led to fan outrage against the board. Finally, disputes after the Cruyff era – and little sporting success in the season 1999/2000 after the club had celebrated its centenary and won the Primera División title in 1999 – finally led to the resignation of president Josep Lluís Nuñez in 2000.
His successor was Joan Gaspart who until then had been vice president of the club for 22 years. He was not re-elected in 2003.
On January 15, 2003, the lawyer Joan Laporta won the presidential election, introducing a new era in which he replaced many players of the team. The FC Barcelona hired super stars such as Ronaldinho, Messi, Eti and Deco and won La Liga in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 and the Champions League in 2006 and 2009. In June 2010 Sandro Rosell took over the presidency of the traditional club
The values of the club with its motto “More than a club” were redefined in 2006, when the FC Barcelona announced its commitment to UNICEF.
In 2006, the number of memberships reached more than 150,000. Today the FC Barcelona is the second largest sports club in the world and is at the top of the UEFA ranking before Madrid.
The four years under coach Josep Gardiola are considered the most successful period in FC Barcelona’s history. Gardiola – who himself played on the FC Barcelona "Dream Team" under Cryuff - coached the club from 2008 to 2012. During this time, Barca won 14 titles: these include Spanish championships (2009, 2010, 2011), Champions League victories (2009, 2011), Spanish Cups (2009, 2012), Spanish Super Cup (2009, 2010, 2011).
His assistant coach Tito Vilanova takes over training of the senior team for next season.
Football is a global phenomenon. The number of fans of the FC Barcelona not only grows in Catalonia, Spain and Europe but everywhere in the world. There are officially registered FC Barcelona fan clubs all over the globe. The FC Barcelona, which also sees itself as a defender of justice and freedom, wants to respond to the enthusiasm of fans all over the world.
Barça wants to be more than an international club and has set up the non-profit Foundation FC Barcelona in 2006 to which it donates 0,7 per cent of its ordinary income. In collaboration with UNICEF, the club will pursue the UN Millennium Development Goals with its foundation. For five years, the players will have the UNICEF logo on their shirts instead of a sponsor’s logo.
As the FC Barcelona until nowadays sees itself as a symbol of independence, democracy and opposition against suppression, the Read Madrid was seen as the symbol of the hated central government. Studying the checkered history of the club, it is understandable that there was a special rivalry between the FC Barcelona and Real Madrid – for the Catalans, Real Madrid was “more than a club”, too.
Nowadays, Madrid can certainly not be seen as a symbol of a totalitarian government – the political dimension of the rivalry shifted to a sporting one. For many fans, the home match against Read Madrid is one of the most important dates of the year and within no time, the stadium is sold out completely.
Since their first match, the players of the FC Barcelona had an emblem on their shirts. The original one was the coat of arms of Barcelona surrounded by two branches, one of a laurel tree and one of a palm tree, and a bat and a crown on top of it.
In 1910, a new emblem was introduced after a competition. It is still in use today but over the time faced some modernizations - the last one in 2002 when the shape were made simpler.
The most significant changes came about during the Franco regime: the letters FCB were replaced by CFB to reflect the way the club was forced to use the Spanish version of its name. The dictatorship also obliged the club to remove two of the four red bars. On occasion of the club´s 75th anniversary, the four bars returned. In 1947, the emblem reverted to its original design of 1910.
Scarlet and blue have featured on the club shirt ever since the FC Barcelona lost its first match against a team of English immigrants (among them some members of the FC Barcelona) by 0-1. Still today, the colours represent all sport sections of the FC Barcelona.
One of the most popular theories is that Joan Gamper, the founder of the team, adopted the colours scarlet and blue from his previous club, the FC Basel. Though the colours and shirts of the FC Basel and the FC Barcelona are absolutely identical, there is no proof of this theory.
The present hymn was first played at the occasion of the last match during the anniversary year 1974. The text surely is no literary masterpiece - but it doesn´t have to. Quickly it became so popular that the other hymns, introduced in 1923, 1949 and 1957, were soon forgotten.
Singing the hymn “El Cant del Barça" right before the start of a match is an established ritual at Camp Nou. You can find the English translation on the right-hand side.
The Futbol Club Barcelona became known for its internationally very successful football team. But several other sports are part of the club, too, which in their respective leagues and international competitions are often as successful as the football team.
These include basketball, futsal (indoor football), handball, roller hockey, ice hockey, field hockey, cycling, rugby, volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
In addition, several wins in competitions no longer are held.
Tickets for home matches of the FC Barcelona are being sold at different prices. A ticket for a top clash against Real Madrid is more expensive than a ticket for a match against a relegation battler.
Click here to order tickets for a home match of the FC Barcelona. For a fee you can have the tickets sent to your hotel in Barcelona. Alternatively, you can pick them up free of shipping costs directly at the Pickup Point of the FC Barcelona. The Pickup Point has a very central location and can be found easily.
Please note that tickets are often sold out 1-3 weeks before the date of the game, especially the cheaper categories.
The professional team of the FC Barcelona (images on this page: FC Barcelona).
Barcelona and the stadium Camp Nou on Youtube, a great hommage to the Barça.
Hans „Joan“ Gamper, the Swiss founder of the FC Barcelona.
The president from 2003-2010 Joan Laporta. He initiated a renewal of the FC Barcelona.
The Camp Nou, the stadium as seen during a tour through the stadium. On the right side, the motto of the FC Barcelona “Més que un club” is clearly visible.
The hymn of the FC Barcelona and its lyrics.
The whole stadium! loudly cheers!
We’re the blue and claret supporters,
It matters not where we hail from,
Whether it's the south or the north,
Now we all agree, we all agree,
One flag unites us in brotherhood.
Blue and claret blowing in the wind,
One valiant cry,
We've got a name that everyone knows:
Barça, Barça, Barça!
United we are strong,
We’ve achieved much over the years,
We’ve shouted many goals,
And we have shown, we have shown,
That no one can ever break us.
Blue and claret blowing in the wind,
One valiant cry,
We’ve got a name that everyone knows:
Barça, Barça, Barça!