Barcelona is one of the most supported teams in the world, and has the largest social media following in the world among sports teams. Barcelona's players have won a record number of Ballon d'Or awards (11), as well as a record number of FIFA World Player of the Year awards (7). In 2010, the club made history when three players who came through its youth academy (Messi, Iniesta and Xavi) were chosen as the three best players in the world in the FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, an unprecedented feat for players from the same football school.
Barcelona is one of three founding members of the Primera División that have never been relegated from the top division, along with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid. In 2009, Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win the continental treble consisting of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League, and also became the first football club to win six out of six competitions in a single year, completing the sextuple in also winning the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. In 2011, the club became European champions again and won five trophies. This Barcelona team, which reached a record six consecutive Champions League semi-finals and won 14 trophies in just four years under Pep Guardiola, is considered by some in the sport to be the greatest team of all time. In June 2015, Barcelona became the first European club in history to achieve the continental treble twice.
Gamper's advertisement in Los DeportesEnglish translation : "SPORT NOTE. Our friend and partner, Mr. Kans Kamper, from the Foot-Vall Section of the 'Sociedad Los Deportes' and former Swiss champion, wishing to organize some matches in Barcelona, requests that everyone who likes this sport contact him, come to this office Tuesday and Friday nights from 9 to 11."
On 22 October 1899, Hans Gamper 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.
A formation of FC Barcelona in 1903
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. Hans Gamper — now known as Joan Gamper — became club president in 1908, finding 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 stadium with a capacity of 8,000. To celebrate their new surroundings, the club conducted a logo contest the following year. Carles Comamala won the contest, and his suggestion became the crest that the club still wears – with some minor changes – as of the present day.
With the new stadium, Barcelona participated in the inaugural version of the Pyrenees Cup, which, at the time, consisted of the best teams of Languedoc, Midi and Aquitaine (Southern France), the Basque Country and Catalonia; all were former members of the Marca Hispanica region. The contest was the most prestigious in that era. From the inaugural year in 1910 to 1913, Barcelona won the competition four consecutive times. Carles Comamala played an integral part of the four-time champion, managing the side along with Amechazurra and Jack Greenwell. The latter became the club's first full-time coach in 1917. The last edition was held in 1914 in the city of Barcelona, which local rivals Espanyol won.
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, participating in the club had less to do with the game itself and more with being a part of the club's collective identity. On 4 February 1917, the club held its first testimonial match to honour Ramón Torralba, who played from 1913 to 1928. The match was against local side Terrassa: Barcelona won 6–2.
Gamper simultaneously launched a campaign to recruit more club members, and by 1922, the club had more than 20,000, who helped finance a new stadium. The club then moved to the new Les Cortes, which they inaugurated the same year. Les Cortes had an initial capacity of 30,000, and in the 1940s it was expanded to 60,000.
On 14 June 1925, in a spontaneous reaction against Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, the crowd in the stadium jeered the Royal March. As a reprisal, the ground was closed for six months and Gamper was forced to relinquish the presidency of the club. This coincided with the transition to professional football, and, in 1926, the directors of Barcelona publicly claimed, for the first time, to operate a professional football club. On 3 July 1927, the club held a second testimonial match for Paulino Alcántara, against the Spanish national team. To kick off the match, local journalist and pilot Josep Canudas dropped the ball onto the pitch from his airplane. In 1928, victory in the Spanish Cup was celebrated with a poem titled "Oda a Platko", which was written by a member of the Generation of '27, Rafael Alberti, inspired by the heroic performance of the Barcelona goalkeeper, Franz Platko. On 23 June 1929, Barcelona won the inaugural Spanish League. A year after winning the championship, 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 now entered a period of decline, in which political conflict overshadowed sports throughout society. Attendance at matches dropped as the citizens of Barcelona were occupied with discussing political matters. 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 the 1937 disputed title) evaded them.
A month after the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, several players from Barcelona enlisted in the ranks of those who fought against the military uprising, along with players from Athletic Bilbao. On 6 August, Falangist soldiers near Guadarrama murdered club president Josep Sunyol, a representative of the pro-independence political party. He was dubbed the martyr of barcelonisme, and his murder was a defining moment in the history of FC Barcelona and Catalan identity. In the summer of 1937, the squad was on tour in Mexico and the United States, where it was received as an ambassador 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 club's offices. A few months later, Catalonia came under occupation and as a symbol of the "undisciplined" Catalanism, the club, now down to just 3,486 members, faced a number of restrictions. All signs of regional nationalism, including language, flag and other signs of separatism were banned throughout Spain. The Catalan flag was banned and the club 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 crest.
In 1943, Barcelona faced rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Copa del Generalísimo (now the Copa del Rey). The first match at Les Corts was won by Barcelona 3–0. Real Madrid comfortably won the second leg, beating Barcelona 11–1. According to football writer Sid Lowe, "There have been relatively few mentions of the game [since] and it is not a result that has been particularly celebrated in Madrid. Indeed, the 11–1 occupies a far more prominent place in Barcelona's history." It has been alleged by local journalist Paco Aguilar that Barcelona's players were threatened by police in the changing room, though nothing was ever proven.
Statue of László Kubala outside the Camp Nou. The prolific forward led Barcelona to success in the 1950s
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 László Kubala, who was to be an important 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 was taking place in Barcelona, receiving the support of blaugrana fans. Events like this made CF Barcelona represent much more than just Catalonia and many progressive Spaniards saw the club as a staunch defender of rights and freedoms.
Coach Ferdinand Daučík and László Kubala led 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, the club won La Liga and the Copa del Generalísimo again.
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. The 1960s 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. Barcelona restored some pride by beating Real Madrid 1–0 in the 1968 Copa del Generalísimo final at the Bernabéu in front of Franco, with coach Salvador Artigas, a former republican pilot in the civil war. With the end of Franco's dictatorship in 1974, the club changed its official name back to Futbol Club Barcelona and reverted the crest to its original design, including the original letters once again.
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 with Ajax, 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 Francisco Franco. He further endeared himself when he named his son Jordi, after the local Catalan Saint George. Next to champions like Juan Manuel Asensi, Carles Rexach and Hugo Sotil, he helped the club win the 1973–74 season 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 to do so) in 1974, while he was still with Barcelona.
Núñez and the stabilisation years (1978–2000)
In 1979, Barcelona bought La Masia, a farmer’s house built in 1702, to be a residence for young academy players. It would later play a significant role in the club's future success.
In 1978, Josep Lluís Núñez became the first elected president of FC Barcelona, and, since then, the members of Barcelona have elected the club president. The process of electing a president of FC Barcelona was closely tied to Spain's transition to democracy in 1974 and the end of Franco's dictatorship. The new president's main objective was to develop Barcelona into a world-class club by giving it stability both on and off the pitch. 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 go of such players as Maradona, Romário and Ronaldo rather than meeting their demands.
On 16 May 1979, the club won its first Cup Winners Cup by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4–3 in Basel in a final watched by more than 30,000 travelling blaugrana fans. The same year, Núñez began to invest in the club's youth program by converting La Masia to a dormitory for young academy players from abroad. The name of the dormitory would later become synonymous with the youth program of Barcelona.
In June 1982, Diego Maradona was signed for a world record fee of £5 million from Boca Juniors. In the following season, under coach Luis, Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, beating Real Madrid. However, Maradona's time with Barcelona was short-lived and 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 noteworthy 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.
Around this time, tensions began to arise between what was perceived as president Núñez's dictatorial rule and the nationalistic support group, Boixos Nois. The group, identified with a left-wing separatism, repeatedly demanded the resignation of Núñez and openly defied him through chants and banners at matches. At the same time, Barcelona experienced an eruption in skinheads, who often identified with a right-wing separatism. The skinheads slowly transferred the Boixos Nois' ideology from liberalism to fascism, which caused division within the group and a sudden support for Núñez's presidency. Inspired by British hooligans, the remaining Boixos Nois became violent, causing havoc leading to large-scale arrests.
After the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Barcelona signed the English top-scorer Gary Lineker, along with goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, but the team could not achieve success, as Schuster was excluded from the team. Terry Venables was subsequently fired at the beginning of the 1987–88 season and replaced with Luis Aragonés. The season finished with the players rebelling against president Núñez, in an event known as the Hesperia mutiny, and a 1–0 victory at the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad.
Johan Cruyff won four consecutive La Liga titles as manager of Barcelona
It was ten years after the inception of the youth program, La Masia, when the young players began to graduate and play for their first team. One of the first graduates, who would later earn international acclaim, was previous Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. 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 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 trophies. With 11 trophies, Cruyff became the club's most successful manager at that point. He also became the club's longest consecutive serving manager, serving eight years. Cruyff's fortune was to change, and, in his final two seasons, he failed to win any trophies and fell out with president Núñez, resulting in his departure. On the legacy of Cruyff's football philosophy and the passing style of play he introduced to the club, future coach of Barcelona Pep Guardiola would state, "Cruyff built the cathedral, our job is to maintain and renovate it."
Reacting to Cruyff's departure, an independent protest group was organised by Armand Caraben, Joan Laporta and Alfons Godall. The objective of the group, called L'Elefant Blau, was to oppose the presidency of Núñez, which they regarded as a corruption of the club's traditional values. Laporta would later take over the presidency of Barcelona in 2003.
Like Maradona, Ronaldo only stayed a short time before he left for Internazionale. However, new heroes emerged, such as Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert, Luis Enrique and Rivaldo, 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 Barcelona 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)
Plaque commemorating the centenary of FC Barcelona (1899–1999)
Ronaldinho, 2005 Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year winner
The departures of Núñez and van Gaal were hardly noticed by the fans when compared to that of Luís Figo, then club vice-captain. Figo had become a cult hero, and was considered by Catalans to be one of their own. However, Barcelona fans were distraught by Figo's decision to join arch-rivals Real Madrid, and, during subsequent visits to the Camp Nou, Figo 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. The next three years saw the club in decline, and managers came and went. van Gaal was replaced by Llorenç Serra Ferrer who, despite an extensive investment in players in the summer of 2000, presided over a mediocre league campaign and a humiliating first-round Champions League exit, and was eventually dismissed late in the season. Long-serving coach Carles Rexach was appointed as his replacement, initially on a temporary basis, and managed to at least steer the club to the last Champions League spot on the final day of the season. Despite better form in La Liga and a good run to the semi-finals of the Champions League, Rexach was never viewed as a long-term solution and that summer Louis van Gaal returned to the club for a second spell as manager. What followed, despite another decent Champions League performance, was one of the worst La Liga campaigns in the club's history, with the team as low as 15th in February 2003. This led to van Gaal's resignation and replacement for the rest of the campaign by Radomir Antić, though a sixth-place finish was the best that he could manage. At the end of the season, Antić's short-term contract was not renewed, and club president Joan Gaspart resigned, his position having been made completely untenable by such a disastrous season on top of the club's overall decline in fortunes since he became president three years prior.
In the 2005–06 season, Barcelona repeated their league and Supercup successes. The pinnacle of the league season arrived at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in a 3–0 win over Real Madrid. It was Frank Rijkaard's second victory at the Bernabéu, making him the first Barcelona manager to win there twice. Ronaldinho's performance was so impressive that after his second goal, which was Barcelona's third, some Real Madrid fans gave him a standing ovation. In the Champions League, Barcelona beat the English club Arsenal in the final. Trailing 1–0 to a 10-man Arsenal and with less than 15 minutes remaining, they came back to win 2–1, with substitute Henrik Larsson, in his final appearance for the club, setting up goals for Samuel Eto'o and fellow substitute Juliano Belletti, for the club's first European Cup victory in 14 years.
Despite being the favourites and starting strongly, Barcelona finished the 2006–07 season without trophies. A pre-season US tour was later blamed for a string of injuries to key players, including leading scorer Eto'o and rising star Lionel Messi. There was open feuding as Eto'o publicly criticized coach Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho also admitted that a lack of fitness affected his form. In La Liga, Barcelona were in first place for much of the season, but inconsistency in the New Year saw Real Madrid overtake them to become champions. Barcelona advanced to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, winning the first leg against Getafe 5–2, with a goal from Messi bringing comparison to Diego Maradona's goal of the century, but then lost the second leg 4–0. They took part in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup, but were beaten by a late goal in the final against Brazilian side Internacional. In the Champions League, Barcelona were knocked out of the competition in the last 16 by eventual runners-up Liverpool on away goals.
FC Barcelona B youth manager Pep Guardiola took over Frank Rijkaard's duties at the conclusion of the season. Guardiola brought with him the now famous tiki-taka style of play 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.
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 team. 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 13 June, where he got 61.35% (57,088 votes, a record) of total votes. Rosell signed David Villa from Valencia for €40 million and Javier Mascherano from Liverpool for €19 million. 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, La Masia graduate Cesc Fàbregas was bought from Arsenal and he would help Barcelona defend the Spanish Supercup against Real Madrid. The Supercup victory brought the total number of official trophies to 73, matching the number of titles won by Real Madrid.
Later the same month, Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup after defeating Porto 2–0 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Cesc Fàbregas. This extended the club's overall number 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 three 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, Barcelona won the FIFA Club World Cup for a record second time since its establishment, by beating the Brazilian 2011 Copa Libertadores holders, Santos, 4–0 in the final thanks to two goals from Lionel Messi and goals from Xavi and Fàbregas. As a result, the overall trophy haul during the reign of Guardiola was further extended and saw Barcelona win their 13th trophy out of 24 possible in four years, continuing their high-quality performance in recent world football competitions.
In the 2011–12 season, Barcelona lost the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League against Chelsea. Right afterward, coach Pep Guardiola, who had been on a rolling contract and had faced criticism over his recent tactics and squad selections, announced that he would step down as manager on 30 June and be succeeded by assistant Tito Vilanova. Guardiola finished his tenure with Barça winning the Copa del Rey final 3–0, bringing the tally to 14 trophies that Barça had won under his coaching.
Recent history (2012–)
It was announced in summer of 2012 that Tito Vilanova, assistant manager at FC Barcelona, would take over from Pep Guardiola as manager. Following his appointment, Barcelona went on an incredible run that saw them hold the top spot on the league table for the entire season, recording only two losses and amassing 100 points. Their top scorer once again was Lionel Messi, who scored 46 goals in the League, including two hat-tricks. On 11 May 2013 Barcelona were crowned as the Spanish football champions for the 22nd time, still with four games left to play. Ultimately Barcelona ended the season 15 points clear of rivals Real Madrid, despite losing 2–1 to them at the beginning of March. They reached the semifinal stage of both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, going out to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. On 19 July, it was announced that Vilanova was resigning as Barcelona manager because his throat cancer had returned, and he would be receiving treatment for the second time after a three-month medical leave in December 2012.
On 22 July 2013, Gerardo 'Tata' Martino was confirmed as manager of FC Barcelona for the 2013–14 season. Barcelona's first official games under Martino were the home and away legs of the 2013 Spanish Supercup, which Barça won 1–1 on away goals. On 23 January 2014, Sandro Rosell resigned as president by the admissibility of the complaint for alleged misappropriation following the transfer of Neymar. Josep Maria Bartomeu replaced him to finish the term in 2016.
In April 2014, FIFA banned the club from buying players for the next two transfer windows following the violation of the FIFA's rules about the transfer of footballers aged under 18. A statement on FIFA's website read "With regard to the case in question, FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of ten minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players, including under Annexe 2 of the Regulations. The Disciplinary Committee regarded the infringements as serious and decided to sanction the club with a transfer ban at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, together with a fine of CHF 450,000. Additionally, the club was granted a period of 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned." FIFA rejected an appeal in August but the pending appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed Barcelona to sign players during the summer of 2014.
Luis Suárez became the club's most expensive signing in 2014, costing between €81 and €94 million.
On 17 May, in a game where they needed to defeat Atlético Madrid (who had eliminated them from the UEFA Champions League in the quarterfinals earlier in the year) to be crowned champions of La Liga for the 23rd time, they drew after Atlético defender Diego Godín headed in the equalizer in the 49th minute, giving Atlético the championship.
In late December, Barcelona's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was unsuccessful and the original transfer ban was reinstated, leaving the club unable to utilise the 2015 winter and summer transfer windows. On 5 January 2015, Zubizareta was sacked by the board after 4 years as director of football. The next month, Barcelona announced the formation of a new Football Area Technical Commission, made up of vice-president Jordi Mestre, board member Javier Bordas, Carles Rexach and Ariedo Braida.
Barcelona won the treble in the 2014–2015 season, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles, and became the first European team to have won the treble twice. On 17 May, the club clinched their 23rd La Liga title after defeating Atlético Madrid. This was Barcelona's seventh La Liga title in the last ten years. On 30 May, the club defeated Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Reyfinal at Camp Nou. On 6 June, Barcelona won the UEFA Champions Leaguefinal with a 3–1 win against Juventus, which completed the treble, the club's second in 6 years. Barcelona's attacking trio of Messi, Suárez and Neymar, dubbed MSN, scored 122 goals in all competitions, the most in a season for an attacking trio in Spanish football history.
On 11 August, Barcelona started the 2015–16 season winning a joint record fifth European Super Cup by beating Sevilla FC 5–4 in the 2015 UEFA Super Cup. They ended the year with a 3–0 win over Argentine club River Plate in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final on 20 December to win the trophy for a record third time, with Suárez, Messi and Iniesta the top three players of the tournament. The FIFA Club World Cup was Barcelona's 20th international title, a record only matched by Egyptian club Al Ahly SC. By scoring 180 goals in 2015 in all competitions, Barcelona set the record for most goals scored in a calendar year, breaking Real Madrid's record of 178 goals scored in 2014.
On 4 January 2016, Barcelona's transfer ban ended. The same day, they registered 77 players across all categories and ages, and both last summer signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal became eligible to play with the first team. On 10 February, qualifying for the sixth Copa del Rey final in the last eight seasons, Luis Enrique’s Barcelona broke the club's record of 28 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions set by Guardiola’s team in the 2010–11 season, with a 1–1 draw with Valencia in the second leg of the 2015–16 Copa del Rey.
The nickname culé for a Barcelona supporter is derived from the Catalan cul (English: arse), as the spectators at the first stadium, Camp de la Indústria, sat with their culs over the stand. In Spain, about 25% of the population is said to be Barça sympathisers, second behind Real Madrid, supported by 32% of the population. Throughout Europe, Barcelona is the favourite second-choice club. The club's membership figures have seen a significant increase from 100,000 in the 2003–04 season to 170,000 in September 2009, the sharp rise being attributed to the influence of Ronaldinho and then-president Joan Laporta's media strategy that focused on Spanish and English online media.
In addition to membership, as of 2010[update] there are 1,335 officially registered fan clubs, called penyes, around the world. The fan clubs promote Barcelona in their locality and receive beneficial offers when visiting Barcelona. Among the best supported teams globally, Barcelona has the highest social media following in the world among sports teams, with over 90 million Facebook fans as of February 2016. The club has had many prominent people among its supporters, including Pope John Paul II, who was an honorary member, and former prime minister of Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. FC Barcelona has the second highest average attendance of European football clubs only behind Borussia Dortmund.
There is often a fierce rivalry between the two strongest teams in a national league, and this is particularly the case in La Liga, where the game between Barcelona and Real Madrid is known as El Clásico. From the start of national competitions the clubs were seen as representatives of two rival regions in Spain: Catalonia and Castile, as well as of the two cities. The rivalry reflects what many regard as the political and cultural tensions felt between Catalans and the Castilians, seen by one author as a re-enactment of the Spanish Civil War.
During the dictatorships of Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923–1930) and especially of Francisco Franco (1939–1975), all regional cultures were suppressed. All of the languages spoken in Spanish territory, except Spanish (Castilian) itself, were officially banned. Symbolising the Catalan people's desire for freedom, Barça became 'More than a club' (Més que un club) for the Catalans. According to Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, the best way for the Catalans to demonstrate their identity was by joining Barça. It was less risky than joining a clandestine anti-Franco movement, and allowed them to express their dissidence. During Franco's regime, however, the blaugrana team was granted profit due to its good relationship with the dictator at management level, even giving two awards to him.
During the 1950s the rivalry was exacerbated further when there was a controversy surrounding the transfer of Alfredo di Stéfano, who finally played for Real Madrid and was key to their subsequent success. The 1960s saw the rivalry reach the European stage when they met twice in a controversial knock-out round of the European Cup, with Madrid receiving unfavourable treatment from the referee. In 2002, the European encounter between the clubs was dubbed the "Match of The Century" by Spanish media, and Madrid's win was watched by more than 500 million people.
Barça's local rival has always been Espanyol. Blanc-i-blaus, being one of the clubs granted royal patronage, was founded exclusively by Spanish football fans, unlike the multinational nature of Barça's primary board. The founding message of the club was clearly anti-Barcelona, and they disapprovingly saw FC Barcelona as a team of foreigners. The rivalry was strengthened by what Catalonians saw as a provocative representative of Madrid. Their original ground was in the affluent district of Sarrià.
Traditionally, Espanyol was seen by the vast majority of Barcelona's citizens as a club which cultivated a kind of compliance to the central authority, in stark contrast to Barça's revolutionary spirit. Also in the 1960s and 1970s, while FC Barcelona acted as an integrating force for Catalonia's new arrivals from poorer regions of Spain expecting to find a better life, Espanyol drew their support mainly from sectors close to the regime such as policemen, military officers, civil servants and career fascists.
In 1918 Espanyol started a counter-petition against autonomy, which at that time had become a pertinent issue. Later on, an Espanyol supporter group would join the Falangists in the Spanish Civil War, siding with the fascists. Despite these differences in ideology, the derbi has always been more relevant to Espanyol supporters than Barcelona ones due to the difference in objectives. In recent years the rivalry has become less political, as Espanyol translated its official name and anthem from Spanish to Catalan.
Though it is the most played local derby in the history of La Liga, it is also the most unbalanced, with Barcelona overwhelmingly dominant. In the primera división league table, Espanyol has only managed to end above Barça on three occasions from 80 seasons (1928–2015) and the only all-Catalan Copa del Rey final was won by Barça in 1957. Espanyol has the consolation of achieving the largest margin win with a 6–0 in 1951, while Barcelona's biggest win was 5–0 on five occasions (in 1933, 1947, 1964, 1975 and 1992). Espanyol achieved a 2–1 win against Barça during the 2008–09 season, becoming the first team to defeat Barcelona at Camp Nou in their treble-winning season.
Finances and ownership
In 2010, Forbes evaluated Barcelona's worth to be around €752 million (USD $1 billion), ranking them fourth after Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Arsenal, based on figures from the 2008–09 season. According to Deloitte, Barcelona had a recorded revenue of €366 million in the same period, ranking second to Real Madrid, who generated €401 million in revenue. In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked Barcelona the third most valuable sports team in the world, behind Real Madrid and Manchester United, with a value of $2.6 billion. In 2014, Forbes ranked them the second most valuable sports team in the world, worth $3.2 billion, and Deloitte ranked them the world's fourth richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of €484.6 million.
Along with Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, and Osasuna, Barcelona is organised as a registered association. Unlike a limited company, it is not possible to purchase shares in the club, but only membership. The members of Barcelona, called socis, form an assembly of delegates which is the highest governing body of the club. As of 2010[update] the club has 170,000 socis.
Xavi holds the record for most games played for Barcelona.
Xavi Hernández presently holds the team record for most number of total games played (767) and the record number of La Liga appearances (505), surpassing the previous record holder Migueli (391).
FC Barcelona's all-time highest goalscorer in all competitions (including friendlies) is Lionel Messi with 465 goals. Messi is also the all-time highest goalscorer for Barcelona in all official competitions, excluding friendlies, with 436 goals. He is the record goalscorer for Barcelona in European (80 goals) and international club competitions (88 goals), and the record league scorer with 298 goals in La Liga. Four players have managed to score over 100 league goals at Barcelona: Lionel Messi (298), César Rodríguez (192), László Kubala (131) and Samuel Eto'o (108).
On 2 February 2009, Barcelona reached a total of 5,000 La Liga goals. The goal was converted by Lionel Messi in a game against Racing Santander, which Barça won 2–1. On 18 December 2009 Barcelona beat Estudiantes 2–1 to win their sixth title in a year and became the first ever football team to complete the sextuple.
Barcelona's highest home attendance was 120,000, for a European Cup quarter-final against Juventus on 3 March 1986. The modernisation of Camp Nou during the 1990s and the introduction of all-seater stands means the record will not be broken for the foreseeable future as the current capacity of the stadium is 99,354.
Crest and shirt
The first crest worn by Barcelona
The club's original crest was a quartered diamond-shaped crest topped by the Crown of Aragon and the bat of King James, and surrounded by two branches, one of a laurel tree and the other a palm. In 1910 the club held a competition among its members to design a new crest. The winner was Carles Comamala, who at the time played for the club. Comamala's suggestion became the crest that the club wears today, with some minor variations. The crest consists of the St George Cross in the upper-left corner with the Catalan flag beside it, and the team colours at the bottom.
The blue and red colours of the shirt were first worn in a match against Hispania in 1900. Several competing theories have been put forth for the blue and red design of the Barcelona shirt. The son of the first president, Arthur Witty, claimed it was the idea of his father as the colours were the same as the Merchant Taylor's School team. Another explanation, according to author Toni Strubell, is that the colours are from Robespierre's First Republic. In Catalonia the common perception is that the colours were chosen by Joan Gamper and are those of his home team, FC Basel. The club's most frequently used change colours have been yellow and orange. An away kit featuring the red and yellow stripes of the flag of Catalonia has also been used.
Prior to the 2011–2012 season, Barcelona had a long history of avoiding corporate sponsorship on the playing shirts. On 14 July 2006, the club announced a five-year agreement with UNICEF, which includes having the UNICEF logo on their shirts. The agreement had the club donate €1.5 million per year to UNICEF (0.7 percent of its ordinary income, equal to the UN International Aid Target, cf.ODA) via the FC Barcelona Foundation. The FC Barcelona Foundation is an entity set up in 1994 on the suggestion of then-chairman of the Economical-Statutory Committee, Jaime Gil-Aluja. The idea was to set up a foundation that could attract financial sponsorships to support a non-profit sport company. In 2004, a company could become one of 25 "Honorary members" by contributing between £40,000–60,000 (£54,800–82,300) per year. There are also 48 associate memberships available for an annual fee of £14,000 (£19,200) and an unlimited number of "patronages" for the cost of £4,000 per year (£5,500). It is unclear whether the honorary members have any formal say in club policy, but according to the author Anthony King, it is "unlikely that Honorary Membership would not involve at least some informal influence over the club".
Barcelona ended their refusal of corporate sponsorship prior to the commencement of the 2011–12 season, signing a five-year €150m deal with Qatar Sports Investments, that meant the Qatar Foundation was on the club's shirt for the 11/12 and 12/13 seasons, then replaced by Qatar Airways for the 13/14 season, the deal allowing for a commercial sponsor logo to replace the charity logo, two years into the six-year deal.
An elevated view of the Camp de Les Corts in 1930. It was the home stadium for Barcelona until the club moved to the Camp Nou in 1957
Barcelona initially played in the Camp de la Indústria. The capacity was about 6,000, and club officials deemed the facilities inadequate for a club with growing membership.
In 1922, the number of supporters had surpassed 20,000 and by lending money to the club, Barça was able to build the larger Camp de Les Corts, which had an initial capacity of 20,000 spectators. After the Spanish Civil War the club started attracting more members and a larger number of spectators at matches. This led to several expansion projects: the grandstand in 1944, the southern stand in 1946, and finally the northern stand in 1950. After the last expansion, Les Corts could hold 60,000 spectators.
After the construction was complete there was no further room for expansion at Les Corts. Back-to-back La Liga titles in 1948 and 1949 and the signing of László Kubala in June 1950, who would later go on to score 196 goals in 256 matches, drew larger crowds to the games. The club began to make plans for a new stadium. The building of Camp Nou commenced on 28 March 1954, before a crowd of 60,000 Barça fans. The first stone of the future stadium was laid in place under the auspices of Governor Felipe Acedo Colunga and with the blessing of Archbishop of Barcelona Gregorio Modrego. Construction took three years and ended on 24 September 1957 with a final cost of 288 million pesetas, 336% over budget.
One of the Camp Nou stands displays Barcelona's motto, "Més que un club", meaning 'More than a club'
In 1980, when the stadium was in need of redesign to meet UEFA criteria, the club raised money by offering supporters the opportunity to inscribe their name on the bricks for a small fee. The idea was popular with supporters, and thousands of people paid the fee. Later this became the centre of controversy when media in Madrid picked up reports that one of the stones was inscribed with the name of long-time Real Madrid chairman and Franco supporter Santiago Bernabéu. In preparation for the 1992 Summer Olympics two tiers of seating were installed above the previous roofline. It has a current capacity of 99,354 making it the largest stadium in Europe.
There are also other facilities, which include:
Spanish teams are limited to three players without EU citizenship. The squad list includes only the principal nationality of each player; several non-European players on the squad have dual citizenship with an EU country. Also, players from the ACP countries—countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement—are not counted against non-EU quotas due to the Kolpak ruling.
^The Copa Eva Duarte was only recognised and organised with that name by the RFEF from 1947 until 1953, and therefore Barcelona's "Copa de Oro Argentina" win of 1945 is not included in this count, i.e. only the 1948, 1952 and 1953 trophies are.