Futbol Club Barcelona

Founded: 1899

Old names: Foot-Ball Club Barcelona, Club de Fútbol Barcelona

Barcelona logoHEAD COACH: Ronald Koeman

PRESIDENT: Joan Laporta

CAPTAIN: Lionel Messi

NICKNAME: Barca, Blaugrana, Catalans


RIVALS: Real Madrid, Espanyol, AC Milan

Barcelona is a professional football club based in Catalonia in Spain. It was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, Spanish, English and Catalan football players who were led by Joan Gramper.

The club’s motto is “Mes que un club” (“More than a club”).

Barcelona is owned and operated by the club’s supporters and not owned by a corporate or businessman. It is one of the most valuable clubs in world football and is the richest in terms of revenue.

The club’s official anthem is “Cant del Barca” and they were given the nickname of Blaugrana because of their team colours being dark blue and dark red.

Barcelona has won a record 74 trophies including 26 La Liga titles, 30 Copa del Rey trophies, 13 Spanish Supercups, 3 Copa Eva Duarte, and 2 Copa de la Liga trophies.

Barca holds the record for the most Copa del Rey titles, Spanish Supercups (Supercopa de Espana), Eva Duarte and Copa de Liga. The only category they are not first in happens to be the league titles, which is with Real Madrid who have 34 so are way ahead of their 2nd-placed rivals.

In international club football, Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs as well. They have 5 UEFA Champions League titles, a record 4 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, a joint record of 5 UEFA Super Cups, 3 Inter-Cities Fair Cup titles, and 3 FIFA Club World Cups.

The club’s biggest rivals are Real Madrid against whom they face-off in the match that is globally recognised as El Clasico.

Barcelona is one of the most widely supported teams in world football and has one of the biggest fan-followings as well.

Barcelona players have won a record number of Ballon d’Or awards (12 in total) with Lionel Messi winning 6 himself, and 5 others including Luis Suarez Miramontes who was the first ever player from Barcelona to win the Ballon d’or back in 1960.

Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff during his playing days (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

Johan Cruyff was the next Barcelona player to win the prestigious award in 1973 and he won it again in 1974 while playing for Barcelona itself.

Hristo Stoichkov was the next Barca player to win it after 20 years, in 1992. Rivaldo was the 4th Barcelona player to win the Ballon d’Or in 1999 and Ronaldinho won it in 2005 for the Catalans before Messi became the 6th Barcelona player to win the best player award.

Barcelona is one of the three members of the Primera Division of Spanish football to have never been relegated alongside archrivals Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.

In 2009, Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win the famed “treble” as they won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League in the same season.

They also became the first Spanish club to win 6 out of 6 competitions in a single year as they won the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup as well.

Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona won 14 trophies in just 4 years in what has led to that Barcelona team being called the greatest team of all time.

In 2015, Barcelona became the first European club to do the treble twice in its history. Bayern Munich just joined them in the elite club.

History of FC Barcelona

On 22nd October 1899, Hans Gamper placed an advertisement in Los Deportes declaring his wish to form a football club. He received a positive response and that resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé on 29th November later that year.

The meeting was attended by 11 people – Walter Wild, Lluís d’Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Carles Pujol, Josep Llobet, John Parsons, and William Parsons. They ended up becoming the founders of the club.

After the success of the meeting, Football-Club Barcelona was formed and Walter Wild became the first president of the club.

Camp Nou

Camp Nou (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Joan Gamper – Mr. Barcelona

FC Barcelona had a good start to its football career as a club.

In 1902, the Catalans won their first trophy – the Copa Macaya. They also made the Copa del Rey final in their first attempt, which they lost 2-1 to Bizcaya (now, Athletic Bilbao) back then.

In 1908, Hans Gamper – now known as Joan Gamper – became the club president in a desperate attempt to save Barcelona from shutting down.

Barca was struggling not just on the pitch, but also financially and socially off it, after not winning a competition since the Campionat de Catalunya in 1905.

Gamper was the club president on five separate occasions between 1908 and 1925. He spent 25 years in total at the helm and one of his biggest achievements was ensuring Barça acquired its own stadium, which led to generation of a stable income.

A period of lots of change and Pyrenees Cup domination

On 14th March 1909, Barcelona moved into the Camp de la Indústria. The stadium had a capacity of 8,000.

Barcelona also conducted a logo contest as they looked set to revamp the club and try get it back up on its feet. It was Carles Comamala who won the contest and his logo still stands to this day with some minor changes.

Barcelona participated in the inaugural Pyrenees Cup after moving to their new stadium. The Cup featured teams from Languedoc, Midi and Aquitaine (Southern France), the Basque Country and Catalonia. This was the most prestigious tournament during that time.

Barcelona won the inaugural cup in 1910 and went on to make it 4 in a row when they lifted the title in 1911, 1912 and 1913 as well.

Carles Comamala played an integral part during this run as the manager of the side along with Amechazurra and Jack Greenwell.

Greenwell became Barcelona’s first full-time coach in 1917. The only Pyrenees Cup that Barcelona failed to win was the 5th and final tournament where the Catalans lost to neighbours Espanyol, in 1914.

From Camp de la Industria to Les Cortes

Barcelona moved to a bigger stadium thanks to none other than Gamper who managed to recruit more club members.

By 1922, the club had more than 20,000 members! These members helped finance the new stadium – Les Cortes, which they moved to in 1922 itself.

The stadium had an initial capacity of 30,000. In the 1940s, this was doubled and expanded to a capacity of 60,000.

Gamper recruited Jack Greenwell as the first full-time manager in Barcelona’s history. Under Gamper’s presidency, Barca went onto win 11 Campionats de Catalunya, 6 Copa del Rey titles and 4 Pyrenees Cups.

The commencement of La Liga and 6 Campionat de Catalunya titles in the 1930s

On 23rd June 1929, Barcelona won the inaugural Spanish Primera Division League. A year after winning the title, Gamper committed suicide due to depression.

This seemed to affect the club on the pitch as they struggled to win and the problems off the pitch started weighing heavy on Barca. Attendance at matches dropped as the citizens of Barcelona were occupied with political discussions.

Barcelona did win several Campionat de Catalunya titles during these testing times, however. They won it 6 times including a hattrick from 1930 to 1932.

Club de Futbol Barcelona

(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

In 1943, the newly named Barcelona faced rivals Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Copa del Generalismo (now known as the Copa del Rey).

Barcelona did well to win the first leg at home in Les Cortes, 3-0 but they were annihilated by Real in Madrid as they were crushed 11-1 in the return leg!

Despite the political issues in Catalonia, CF Barcelona enjoyed success in the 1940s and 1950s. Barcelona won the league title for the first time since 1929 when they won it in 1945 under head coach Josep Samitier.

His side featured some top players including Cesar Rodriguez AlvarezAntoni Ramallets Simon and Juan Zambudio Velasco. They went on to win two in a row in 1948 and 1949.

Barca also won the Copa Latina in 1949 and in June 1950, they signed Laszlo Kubala who was integral to the club’s success in the 1950s.

Coach Ferdinand Daučík and László Kubala led the team to 5 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 did the domestic double by winning La Liga and the Copa del Generalísimo again.

European football for Barcelona, failure in the 1960s and Cruyff’s greatness

Barcelona won the national double in 1959 with Helenio Herrera as head coach. The team featured a young Luis Suarez who won the European Footballer of the Year award in 1960. Barca also had 2 extremely talented Hungarians in Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor.

After doing the league and cup double in 1959, Barcelona retained the league title and also won the Fairs Cup in 1960.

In 1961, Barcelona became the first club to beat Real Madrid in a European Cup play-off but lost to Portuguese side Benfica in the final.

The 1960s were dominated by Real Madrid as they monopolised La Liga. Barca’s Camp Nou was built in 1957, which meant there was less money to spend on bringing in new players.

Barcelona won the Copa del Rey in 1963 and the Fairs Cup in 1966 with Josep Maria Fuste and Charles Rexach among its ranks.

Barcelona did beat Madrid 1-0 in the 1968 Copa del Rey final at the Santiago Bernabeu and with the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1974, Barcelona changed its official name to Futbol Club Barcelona.

The Catalans signed legend Johan Cruyff from Ajax for a world record fee of £920,000 in the 1973-74 season. Cruyff led Barcelona to their first league title since 1960 as they won it in his first season itself.

The Dutchman was supported by Juan Manuel Asensi, Rexach and Hugo Sotil. Cruyff’s outstanding first season in Spain saw him win the European Footballer of the Year award in 1973 along with the Ballon d’Or.

Cruyff won the Ballon d’Or in the following season as well, with Barcelona, to become the first ever player to win 3 Ballon d’Or trophies.

Josep Lluis Nunez – FC Barcelona ‘s first elected President

Josep Lluis Nunez became Barcelona’s first elected President in 1978, and since then, the members of Barcelona have always elected the president.

The main objective of the president was to develop Barcelona into a world-class club by giving it stability on the pitch and off it as well.

Nunez was president for an incredible 22 years! He had a strict policy on salaries and wages of players due to which players like Diego Maradona, Romario and Ronaldo were all let go rather than meeting their demands.

Josep Nunez always stood by the principle of no one is bigger than the club so they could not succumb to players’ terms.

In May 1979, Barcelona won its first European Cup Winners’ Cup by beating Fortuna Dusseldorf 4-3 in the final.

Nunez invested in the club’s youth programme by converting La Masia (a farmer’s house) into a dormitory for youth academy players from abroad. La Masia is now the name of the Barcelona youth academy.

Barcelona signed the great Diego Maradona for a world record feed of £5 million from Boca Juniors in 1982. In the following season, under coach César Luis Menotti, Barca won the Copa del Rey by beating Real Madrid in the final.

Maradona left for Napoli soon after but Barcelona continued to succeed. Terry Venables was hired as Barcelona’s new manager and he led the team to the league title in 1984-85.

In 1985-86, the Catalans made it to the European Cup final for a second time but lost to Steaua Bucharest in Seville.

A period of tense volatility off the pitch followed as Terry Venables was fired at the beginning of the 1987-88 season and replaced by Luis Aragones.

The season ended in dramatic fashion as Barcelona players rebelled against president Nunez who started trying to implement a dictatorship approach. This uprising by the players came to be known as the Hesperia mutiny.

Barcelona still managed to win the final game of the season as they won the Copa del Rey by beating Real Sociedad in the final.

The Dream Team

Barcelona and Dutch legend Johan Cruyff returned to Spain but this time, as a manager, in 1988.

He brought together a team of stars by mixing local Spanish talent with some of the best international footballers. Cruyff signed Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romario and Hristo Stoichkov to bolster his squad.

He also had top Spanish players including Pep GuardiolaJosé Mari Bakero, Jon Andoni Goikoetxea, Miguel Angel Nadal and Txiki Begiristain.

Pep Guardiola was one of the first big graduates from Barcelona’s youth system. With Cruyff at the helm, Barcelona won 4 consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994!

They won the 1989 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1992 European Cup by beating Sampdoria in both competitions.

Cruyff’s side also went on to lift the Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992 and 3 Supercopa de Espana titles.

With an incredible 11 trophies in just 4 years, Cruyff became Barcelona’s most successful manager at that time. He was also the club’s longest serving manager, serving 8 consecutive years.

Johan Cruyff suddenly had a dry spell as he failed to win a trophy in his final 2 seasons as head coach. He had a fall out with president Nunez, resulting in his departure.

Cruyff created the Barcelona football philosophy. The passing style of play he introduced to the club was lauded by his former player, Pep Guardiola who stated, “Cruyff built the cathedral. Our job is to maintain and renovate it.”

With the sacking of Cruyff, there was lots of backlash. Armand Caraben, Joan Laporta and Alfons Godall led a protest group called L’Elefant Blau to oppose president Nunez. Laporta became the president eventually in 2003.

Joan Laporta

Barcelona President – Joan Laporta (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

Sir Bobby Robson took over the club’s coaching role after Cruyff’s departure for just one season in 1996-97. He signed Ronaldo from PSV Eindhoven and it paid dividends immediately.

Barca went on to win a cup treble by winning the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Supercopa de Espana as Ronaldo had a dream first season scoring a mammoth 47 goals in 49 games.

Louis van Gaal took over from Robson and he had some of the best players football has ever seen in Luis FigoPatrick KluivertLuis Enrique and Rivaldo. They won the Copa del Rey and La Liga double in 1998 and retained the league title in 1999.

Rivaldo won the European footballer of the year award for his incredible showing in the 1999 season but failed to deliver in the UEFA Champions League that led to the resignation of both – Louis van Gaal and Josep Lluis Nunez in 2000.

The 2000s

The 2000s saw a new manager and new president at FC Barcelona. Lorenzo Ferrer took over as Barca’s head coach but had a terrible season, which led to him being dismissed late in the year itself.

Charles Rexach took over and managed to get Barcelona to qualify for the Champions League on final day of the season courtesy a Rivaldo hattrick that saw him net the winner with an outstanding bicycle kick in the final minute.

Rexach’s temporary appointment benefitted the Catalans as they managed to make it to the Champions League semifinals after which, Louis van Gaal was reappointed at the helm.

Louis van Gaal had one of the worst seasons as manager with the Catalans as they were 15th in the league at one point, in 2003. The Dutch coach resigned and was replaced by Radomar Antic.

He managed to get Barcelona to end the season in 6th and club president Joan Gaspart retired soon after.

Joan Laporta took over as president in 2003 with Frank Rijkaard as the new head coach. This saw the club bounce back as the team became stacked with talent once again.

International players like Samuel Eto’oRonaldinhoDecoLudovic GiulyRafael Marquez and Edgar Davids joined hands with Spanish players Carles PuyolAndres IniestaXavi and Victor Valdes to lead Barcelona to success once again.

Barcelona won La Liga in 2004-05 and coupled it with a Spanish Supercup win. They did a repeat the following season in 2005-06.

Frank Rijkaard became the first Barcelona manager to beat Real Madrid twice at the Bernabeu in 2005-06, after a 3-0 victory.

The Spanish champions then went onto win the UEFA Champions League title by beating Arsenal 2-1 in the final. Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti scored as they won the trophy for the first time after 14 years.

Barcelona failed to replicate the success in the following season as they finished 2006-07 without a trophy. 2007-08 also ended up with Barca failing to win a trophy even though they progressed deep in all competitions.

Pep Guardiola took over from Frank Rijkaard in June 2008.

The Guardiola era

Pep Guardiola

Barcelona’s greatest ever coach – Pep Guardiola (Photo by Robert Marquardt/Getty Images)

Barcelona B’s youth manager and former player Pep Guardiola took over the first team duties at the end of the 2008 season.

Guardiola brought with him his tiki-taka style of play that he had learnt during his days at La Masia as a player.

The Spaniard revamped his squad to suit his philosophy and that meant letting go of Ronaldinho and Deco. The new coach focused on building his team around his La Masia stars – Xavi, Iniesta and Lionel Messi.

Pep’s first success was in the Copa del Rey as they beat Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in the final in 2009 as they won the competition for a then record 25th time. They completed the domestic double by winning the league title after crushing Real Madrid 6-2, just 3 days later.

They reached the dream land in Rome when they beat Champions League holders Manchester United in the final 2-0 to complete the treble.

This was the first treble won by a Spanish club and they achieved all of this in Guardiola’s first season! They then went on to win the 2009 Supercopa de Espana by beating Bilbao and the UEFA Super Cup as well by seeing of Shakhtar Donetsk, becoming the first European club to win both – domestic and European super cups after a treble.

Barca did not stop here as they made it 6 trophies out of 6 in 1 season as they lifted the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2009 by defeating Argentina’s Estudiantes in the final.

They became the first European club to win all trophies in one season. Bayern Munich recently repeated this feat.

Guardiola’s Barcelona continued with the success by setting 2 new Spanish records. They retained the league title by accumulating 99 points and won the Supercopa de Espana for a record 9th time.

Sandro Rosell took over as president in June 2010 after Joan Laporta departed from the Blaugrana. Rosell signed David Villa and Javier Mascherano to strengthen the Catalans.

Spain’s 2010 World Cup success is majorly owed to La Masia. 6 of the starting 11 of Spain’s squad were graduates from Barcelona’s youth system.

In November 2010, Barcelona crushed Real Madrid 5–0 in El Clásico. At the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or, Barcelona’s La Masia became the first youth academy ever to have all three finalists for the Ballon d’Or, with Messi, Iniesta and Xavi being named the three best players in the world for 2010.

In the 2010-11 season, Barcelona made it 3 La Liga titles in succession as they finished with 96 points. They, however, lost out in the Copa del Rey final losing 1-0 to Real Madrid.

The Catalans made the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League final once again and faced off against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in what was a repeat of the 2009 final.

The result was no different as Barcelona proved too good for United that saw them winning 3-1 and securing their 4th UEFA Champions League crown.

Barca won the UEFA Super Cup once again by defeating FC Porto 2-0, which took the Spanish club’s total trophy tally to 74, to overtake Real Madrid at the time.

This was Pep Guardiola’s 12th trophy out of a possible 15 in 3 years as head coach to overtake Johan Cruyff and become the most decorated coach of Barcelona.

Barca won the Club World Cup once again by defeating Santos 4-0 making it 13 trophies out of 16 for Pep Guardiola and his side.

Barcelona lost in the UEFA Champions League semifinal against Chelsea and that saw Guardiola announce his resignation from his childhood club.

Tito Vilanova then took over and the club continued its success with an incredible season that saw them lose only 2 games and amass 100 points to retain the league title.

Barca won the league once again in 2013 with 4 games to spare to make it league title #22. They reached the semifinals of the Copa del Rey and Champions League but failed to win either.

Tito Vilanova stepped down due to throat cancer later that year.

Barcelona post Pep Guardiola

Tata Martino took over the role of manager at Barcelona in July 2013. They won the Supercopa de Espana right away under his management.

Atletico prevented Barcelona from winning the league title for a 23rd time in 2013-14 in what came down to a final day clash between the two sides. Barca needed to win the match for the title whereas Diego Simeone’s Atleti just needed to avoid defeat.

Diego Godin’s equaliser saw the Madrid side lift the trophy and keep Barca at bay.

Barcelona made all the wrongs right the following season (2014-15) as they went on to win the treble for the second time in their history to become the only European club to do so in the modern era.

Luis Suarez (L), Lionel Messi (C) and Neymar (R) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2014-15 La Liga title made it 7 in 10 seasons for the Catalans! Barcelona’s attacking trio of Messi, Suárez and Neymar, famously termed “MSN”, scored an incredible 122 goals in all competitions, which is the most in a season for an attacking trio in Spanish football history.

Barca started the 2015-16 season by winning the UEFA Super Cup for a joint record 5 times and the FIFA Club World Cup for a record 3rd time.

The Club World Cup was Barcelona’s 20th international title, a record only matched by Egyptian club Al Ahly.

By scoring 180 goals in all competitions in 2015, Barcelona set the new record for most goals scored in a calendar year, breaking Real Madrid’s record of 178 goals scored in 2014.

On 10 February 2016, by qualifying for their 6th Copa del Rey final in the last 8 seasons, new manager Luis Enrique’s Barcelona broke the club’s record of 28 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions that was 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.

Barca then went onto beat Real Madrid’s Spanish record of 34 games unbeaten with a 5-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano, a record that stood since 1988-89. Barca’s streak ended on 39 games after they suffered a defeat against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in April 2016.

“MSN” went onto break their own record by scoring a combined 131 goals, for the most goals by an attacking trio in a single season.

Josep Maria Bartomeu replaced Sandro Rosell as president of the club in 2016.

After Bartomeu took over Barcelona, the club went on to win back-to-back La Liga titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19. They also won the Copa del Rey in 2016-17 and 2017-18 but have failed to succeed in Europe’s premier competition – the UEFA Champions League.

Josep Batomeu was removed from presidency due to corruption  charges and Joan Laporta was reappointed for his second spell as Barcelona president on 8th March 2021.


Lionel Messi: Barcelona’s greatest ever (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)