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Fútbol Club Barcelona (Catalan pronunciation: [fudˈbɔɫ ˌklup bəɾsəˈlonə], Spanish: [ˈfuðβol ˌkluβ barθeˈlona]), also known simply as Barcelona and familiarly as Barça (Catalan: [ˈbaɾsə], Spanish: [ˈbarsa]), is a sports club based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is best known for its football team, which was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Spanish men led by Joan Gamper. The club has become a Catalan institution, hence the motto "Més que un club" (More than a club). The official Barça anthem is El Cant del Barça by Josep Maria Espinàs.

FC Barcelona is one of three clubs that have never been relegated from La Liga and the most successful club in Spanish football, having won nineteen La Liga titles, a record twenty-five Spanish Cups, eight Spanish Super Cups, four Eva Duarte Cups and two League Cups. They are also one of the most successful clubs in European football having won thirteen official major European trophies in total, incluses ten UEFA competitions. They have won three UEFA Champions League titles, a record four UEFA Cup Winners' Cups, a record three Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (the forerunner to the UEFA Cup) and three UEFA Super Cups. In 2009, Barcelona became the first club in Spain to win the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. The club is also the only European side to have played continental football in every season since its inception in 1955.

The club's stadium is the Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 98,772 seats. Barcelona enjoys a high rate of popularity; about 25.7% of Spanish population support the club, while according to a recent survey Barcelona is the most popular football club in Europe with around 44.2 million fans. With 162,979 socis in August 2009, the Catalan club is also placed among the top football clubs in the world with the most registered members, and the number of penyes, the officially-registered supporter clubs, reached the number of 1,888 worldwide in August 2009. The fans of FC Barcelona are known as culés. The club shares a great rivalry with Real Madrid and contest in one of the most famous football matches worldwide, known as El Clásico.

During the 2007–08 season, FC Barcelona was the third richest club in the world with a revenue of €308.8 million. It was also one of the founding members of the now-defunct G-14 group of the leading European football clubs and its modern replacement, the European Club Association. The club also operates a reserve team, FC Barcelona Atlètic, while there was a youth team until 2007, FC Barcelona C.

As of July 1, 2009, FC Barcelona were ranked first in UEFA team ranking. According to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), Barça has been the most consistently successful club in the world since the organisation began collecting statistics, in the period 1991-2008.


Early yearsEdit

On 22 October, 1899, Joan Gamper placed an advert in Los Deportes declaring his wish to form a football club. A positive response resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé on November 29. Eleven players attended, Walter Wild, Lluís d'Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Carles Pujol, Josep Llobet, John Parsons and William Parsons. As a result Foot-Ball Club Barcelona was born. Several other Spanish football clubs, most notably Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, also had British founders, and as a result they initially adopted English-style names.

Legend says that Gamper was inspired to choose the club colours, blaugrana, by FC Basel's crest. However, the other Swiss teams Gamper played for, his home canton of Zürich, and Merchant Taylors' School in Crosby, England have all been credited with or claimed to be the inspiration. FC Barcelona quickly emerged as one of the leading clubs in Spain, competing in the Campeonato de Cataluña and the Copa del Rey. In 1902, the club won its first trophy, the Copa Macaya, and also played in the first Copa del Rey final, losing 2–1 to Bizcaya.

In 1908, Joan Gamper became club president for the first time. Gamper took over the presidency as the club was on the verge of folding. The club had not won anything since the Campeonato de Cataluña of 1905 and its finances suffered as a result. Gamper was subsequently club president on five separate occasions between 1908 and 1925 and spent 25 years at the helm. One of his main achievements was to help Barça acquire its own stadium.

On March 14, 1909, the team moved into the Carrer Indústria, a stadium with a capacity of 8,000. Gamper also launched a campaign to recruit more club members and by 1922, the club had over 10,000. This led to the club moving again, this time to Las Cortes, which inaugurated in the same year. This stadium had an initial capacity of 22,000, later expanded to an impressive 60,000.

Gamper also recruited Jack Greenwell as manager. This saw the club's fortunes begin to improve on the field. During the Gamper era FC Barcelona won eleven Campeonato de Cataluña, six Copa del Rey and four Coupe de Pyrenées and enjoyed its first "golden age."

On 14 June, 1925, the crowd at a game in homage to the Orfeó Català jeered the Royal March, a spontaneous reaction against Primo de Rivera's dictatorship. As a reprisal, the ground was closed, while Gamper was forced to give up the presidency of the club. In 1928, the victory in the Spanish Cup was celebrated with a poem titled “Oda a Platko”, which was written by the important member of the Generation of '27, Rafael Alberti, inspired by the heroic performance of the Barça keeper. On July 30, 1930, the club's founder, after a period of depression brought on by personal and money problems committed suicide.

Although they continued to have players of the standing of Josep Escolà, the club now entered a period of decline, in which political conflict overshadowed sport throughout society. Barça faced a crisis on three fronts: financial, social, with the number of members dropping constantly, and sporting, where although the team won the Campionat de Catalunya in 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1936 and 1938, success at Spanish level (with the exception of the 1937 disputed title) evaded them.

A month after the civil war began, Barça's left-wing president Josep Sunyol was murdered by Francisco Franco's soldiers near Guadarrama. In the summer of 1937, the squad was on tour in Mexico and the United States, in which it was received as an ambassador of the fighting Second Spanish Republic. That tour led to the financial saving of the club and also resulted in half the team seeking exile in Mexico and France. On 16 March, 1938, the fascists dropped a bomb on the club's offices and caused significant destruction. A few months later, Barcelona was under fascist occupation and as a symbol of the 'undisciplined' Catalanism, the club, now down to just 3,486 members, was facing a number of serious problems.

After the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan language and flag were banned and football clubs were prohibited from using non-Spanish names. These measures led to the club having its name forcibly changed to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and the removal of the Catalan flag from the club shield. During the Franco dictatorship one of the few places that Catalan could be spoken freely was within the club's stadium.

In 1943, Barcelona faced rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Copa del Generalísimo. The 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'. Under these conditions, Real Madrid dominated the match, thrashing Barça with a 11–1 win.[6]

Despite the difficult political situation, CF Barcelona enjoyed considerable success during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1945, with Josep Samitier as coach and players like César, Ramallets and Velasco, they won La Liga for the first time since 1929. They added two more titles in 1948 and 1949. In 1949, they also won the first Copa Latina. In June 1950, Barcelona signed Ladislao Kubala, who was to be an influential figure at the club.

On a rainy Sunday of 1951, the crowd left Les Corts stadium after a 2–1 win against Santander by foot, refusing to catch any trams and surprising the Francoist authorities. The reason was simple: at the same time, a tram strike took place in Barcelona, receiving the support of blaugrana fans. Events like this made FC Barcelona represent much more than just Catalonia and many progressive Spaniards see the club as a staunch defender of rights and freedoms.[7]

Coach Fernando Daucik and Ladislao Kubala, regarded by many as the club's best ever player, inspired the team to five different trophies including La Liga, the Copa del Generalísimo, the Copa Latina, the Copa Eva Duarte and the Copa Martini Rossi in 1952. In 1953, they helped the club win La Liga and the Copa del Generalísimo again. The club also won the Copa del Generalísimo in 1957 and the Fairs Cup in 1958.

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/Fairs Cup double in 1960. In 1961, they became the first club to beat Real Madrid in a European Cup eliminatory, thus ending their monopoly of the competition. To little avail, anyway, they lost 3–2 to Benfica in the final.

The 1960s were less successful for the club, with Real Madrid monopolising La Liga. The completion of the Camp Nou, finished in 1957, meant the club had little money to spend on new players. However, the decade also saw the emergence of Josep Fusté and Carles Rexach and the club winning the Copa del Generalísimo in 1963 and the Fairs Cup in 1966. Barça restored some pride by beating Real Madrid 1–0 in the 1968 Copa del Generalísimo final at the Bernabéu in front of Franco, having as coach Salvador Artigas, a republican pilot in the civil war. This match will always be mentioned for what was thrown and not for what was happening on the field. The club changed its official name back to Futbol Club Barcelona in 1974.

Cruyff's first passEdit

The 1973–74 season saw the arrival, as player, of a new Barça legend, Johan Cruyff. Already an established player with Ajax, 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 Francisco Franco.[9][10] He further endeared himself when he chose a Catalan name, Jordi, for his son. Next to players of quality like Juan Manuel Asensi, Carles Rexach and the talented Hugo Sotil, he helped the club win the 1973–74 season for the first time since 1960, along the way defeating Real Madrid 5–0 at the Bernabéu. He was also crowned European Footballer of the Year in his first year at the club.

Núñez and the stabilization years (1978–2000)Edit

Josep Lluís Núñez was elected president of FC Barcelona in 1978. His main objective were to develop Barça into a world-class club by giving to it financial and sporting stability.

The date was May 16, 1979, when the club won its first Cup Winners Cup by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4–3 in Basel in a final that has never been forgotten watched by no fewer than 30,000 travelling blaugrana fans.

In June 1982, Diego Maradona was signed for a world record fee from Boca Juniors. In the following season, under coach César Luis Menotti, Barcelona and Maradona won the Copa del Rey, beating Real Madrid. However, Diego's time with Barça was short-lived and he soon left for Napoli. At the start of the La Liga 1984–85 season, Terry Venables was hired as manager and he won La Liga with stellar displays by German midfielder Bernd Schuster. The next season, he 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 while Schuster was excluded from the team. Terry Venables was subsequently fired at the beginning of the 1987–88 season and replaced with Luis Aragonés. That season finished with a rebellion of the players against president Núñez, known as the Motín del Hesperia and the 1–0 victory at the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad.

In 1988, Johan Cruyff returned to the club as manager and assembled the so-called Dream Team. He introduced players like Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Begiristain, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea, Gheorghe Hagi, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov.

Under Cruyff's guidance, Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994. They beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley with a legendary free kick goal from Dutch international Ronald Koeman. 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 to date. He also became the club's longest serving manager. However, in his final two seasons, he failed to win any trophies (not to mention the disastrous 4–0 defeat in the UEFA Champions League 1994 final against Milan) and fell out with president Núñez, resulting in Cruyff's 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 his previous club, PSV and delivered a cup treble winning the Copa del Rey, UEFA 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 and 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 UEFA Champions League led to van Gaal and Núñez resigning in 2000.

2006-present (Pep Guardila Era)

Barcelona won 3 Champions League Titles from 2006-2011. The squad was led by the likes of superstars such as Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, and 14 year old teen sensation Calvin Berger. Berger scored key goals in their La Liga win in 2013, while Eto'o and Henry stole the show in 2006 and 2009. Eto'o, Henry, and Berger all left, two of which went back to play for prestigous MLS clubs.