Throughout FC Barcelona history, the club has been recognized for its lovable and highly entertaining brand that always appeared to deliver results. They’ve won a slew of La Liga and Copa del Rey championships, and they’ve also won Champions Leagues and Cup Winners’ Cups during their illustrious history.
As one of the world’s wealthiest and most popular teams, they can afford to be owned and funded only by their fans. The phrase “More than a club” (Més que un club) reflects Barcelona’s status as a symbol of Catalonia and its culture from its origin.
When Joan Gamper decided to start a football club in 1899, it was a huge step forward in FC Barcelona history. In response to his newspaper ad, eleven other people shared his ambition, forming Barça.
The powerful history of FC Barcelona
As expected, Barcelona had a solid start to its history by winning the first Copa del Rey eight times between 1902 and 1928, after a final defeat to Vizcaya in 1902. (They were also doing well in the regional Campionat de Catalunya). The following year, they won La Liga for the first time, but the country’s persistent political tensions led to the onset of the Spanish Civil War and the beginning of Franco’s rule, which slowed the team’s progress.
Gamper’s stay in Barcelona ended abruptly when he was deported from Spain for political reasons. In 1930, he tragically took his own life. At this time, Josep Sunol stepped in as FC Barcelona’s new director.
The club had to alter its name from “Barcelona Team de Futbol” to “Barcelona Club de Futbol” and remove the Catalan colors from the crest when it came to politics. However, the following two decades proved to be rather profitable for the club. Barcelona won five La Liga championships and five Copa del Rey cups between 1942 and 1957.
After moving to the new Camp Nou, the club’s executives decided to change their ways and choose Helenio Herrera as their new manager. Barcelona won two successive La Ligas and one Copa del Rey under Herrera’s leadership, with Luis Suárez (not the Uruguayan player) as the team’s captain on the field.
Even though Barcelona became the first team to upset Real Madrid in the European Cup, the 1960s were frustrating for the club’s fans. Real Madrid’s Di Stefano was at his peak, and Barcelona had to settle with two Copa del Rey titles over the decade because of that. The irony is that this would become a recurring subject in the years to come.
Johan Cruyff joined the club in 1973 and was instrumental in the team’s first La Liga triumph in 10 years in 1974. After ten years of waiting, the club managed by Terry Venables would once again win a league championship. There was a bright side to this bleak period for Barcelona: The club’s trophy collection grew exponentially thanks to their success in cup tournaments. Barcelona won four Copa del Reys and two Cup Winners’ Cups during this time.
In 1979, Cruyff had the bright idea of establishing a football school modeled after Amsterdam’s renowned Ajax Youth Academy. After his proposal was approved, an ancient rural house called La Masia was turned into the Academy headquarters.
In the years that followed, La Masia rose to prominence as one of the world’s most prestigious football academies, renowned for both its impeccable top-down structure and the many talents that graduated from it. Josep “Pep” Guardiola, Cesc Fàbregas, Gerard Piqué, and Lionel Messi are just a few of the raised players in La Masia.
In 1988, Cruyff returned to Barcelona in a managerial role, making 1988 a noteworthy year. Pep Guardiola, Txiki Begiristain, Michael Laudrup, Romário, and Hristo Stoichkov were all part of a so-called “Dream Team” assembled by the new manager, which included a mix of domestic and foreign players.
More significantly, the football philosophy Cruyff introduced to the club paved the way for the tiki-taka style that would follow. Barcelona won four straight La Liga championships, two Copa del Rey trophies, one Cup Winners’ Cup, and their first European Cup victory under Cruyff’s leadership at the helm.
The dawn of a new age of dominance has arrived
Barcelona’s aspirations were dealt a severe setback in 2000 when “Los Galacticos” from Real Madrid signed Luis Figo, one of the club’s all-time heroes. When Frank Rijkaard arrived at the club in 2005, things finally began to improve for the better. Ronaldinho, Carles Puyol, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta are only a few of the stars that Rijkaard assembles in his squad, much as his predecessors Cruyff and Van Gaal did before him. Rijkaard led Barcelona to two La Liga titles and one Champions League trophy during his time in command.
Having previously served as head coach of Barcelona’s B Team, Pep Guardiola assumed control of the club in 2008. Guardiola was a product of La Masia himself, and he well grasped the Academy’s value and the potential it carries. A style of play that coupled Cruyff’s love of rapid passing and frequent movement with a desire to keep possession at all costs was the centerpiece of his coaching philosophy. This new strategy, called “tiki-taka”, also preferred zonal marking over the conventional, formation-based strategy in this technique. A conceptual revolution was born from tiki-taka, and Barcelona was in the best position to benefit from it.
Guardiola transformed Barcelona into the most powerful club in the world during his four years in charge. Lionel Messi led Barcelona to three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, and two Champions League crowns from 2008 to 2012, while he was only a teenager. Catalans continued to maintain the winning formula even after Guardiola’s departure, winning an extra two La Ligas, a Copa del Rey, and the Champions League in the years that followed.
Involvement in the public debate
There were no sponsor logos on Barcelona’s Blaugrana jersey for a long time, save for the non-traditional arrangement with UNICEF. However, in 2010 the Qatar Foundation signed an agreement that would bring in €30 million (for a contract between 2011 and 2015). It was too much to turn down. This was a contentious choice for a variety of reasons.
Additionally, the T-shirt was no longer “clean” (the UNICEF logotype had been there for some time, but it was entirely another thing), and the agreement was with a dictatorial country’s business. Even though FC Barcelona’s members (the club’s owners) said yes, many Barça supporters were skeptical of the transaction.
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