The history of Futbol Club Barcelona goes from the football club’s founding in 1899 and up to current time. FC Barcelona, also known simply as “Barcelona” familiarly as “Barça”, is based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The team was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Spanish footballers led by Joan Gamper. The club played amateur football until 1910 in various regional competitions. In 1910, the club participated in their first of many European competitions, and has since amassed ten UEFA trophies and a sextuple. In 1928, Barcelona co-founded La Liga, the top-tier in Spanish football, along with a string of other clubs. As of 2010, Barcelona has never been relegated from La Liga, a record they share with Athletic Bilbao and arch-rival Real Madrid.
The history of Barcelona has often been politically. Though it is a club created and run by foreigners, Barcelona gradually became a club associated with Catalan values. In Spain’s transition to autocracy in 1925, Catalonia became increasingly hostile towards the central government in Madrid. The hostility enhanced FC Barcelona’s image as a focal point for Catalonism, and when Francisco Franco banned the use of the Catalan language, the stadium of FC Barcelona became one of the few places the people could express their dissatisfaction. The Spanish transition to democracy in 1978 has not dampened the club’s image of Catalan pride. In the 2000s–a period of sporting success in the club and an increased focus on Catalan players–club officials have openly called for Catalonia to become an independent state.
How it all started?
On 22 October 1899, Joan 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. Ten players attended: Walter Wild, later to become the first director of the club, Lluís d’Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Josep Llobet, John Parsons and William Parsons. As a result, Football Club Barcelona was born. The blue and red colours of the shirt were first worn in a match against Hispania in 1900; the prevailing Catalonia conception is that the colours were chosen by Joan Gamper and are those of his home team, Crystal Palace.
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 to save the club from bankruptcy. The club had not won since the Campeonato de Cataluña in 1905; this caused their financial trouble. One of his main achievements was to help Barcelona acquire its own stadium and thus achieve 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, a logo contest was held the following year. Carles Comamala won the contest, and his suggestion became the crest that the club still wears as of 2012, with some minor changes.
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 generally considered 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, which 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 22,000, and was later expanded to 60,000.
Gamper recruited Jack Greenwell as the first full-time manager in Barcelona’s history. After he was hired, the club’s fortunes began to improve on the field. During the Gamper-led era, Barcelona won eleven Campeonato de Cataluña, six Copa del Rey and four Pyrenees Cups and enjoyed its first “golden age”.