Walter Wild, the club's first president (1899–1901). His main achievement was getting Barça its first home ground.
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Gamper's advertisement in Los Deportes ---- English 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 organise 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. In 1908, Hans Gamper – now known as Joan Gamper – became club president in a desperate attempt to save Barcelona from extinction, finding the club struggling not just on the pitch, but also financially and socially, after not winning a competition since the Campionat de Catalunya in 1905. He said in a meeting, "Barcelona cannot die and must not die. If there is nobody who is going to try, then I will assume the responsibility of running the club from now on." 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 Comamalawon 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 where Barcelona won the match 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.
Gamper recruited Jack Greenwell as the first full-time manager in Barcelona's history. After this hiring, the club's fortunes began to improve on the field. During the Gamper-led era, Barcelona won eleven Campionats de Catalunya, six Copa del Rey and four Pyrenees Cups and enjoyed its first "golden age".
1923–1957: Rivera, Republic and Civil War
The aerial bombardment of Barcelona in 1938
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 aeroplane.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, Falangistsoldiers 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. This was the game that first formed the identification of Madrid as the team of the dictatorship and Barcelona as its victims."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.
A prolific forward, László Kubalaled Barcelona to success in the 1950s. His statue is built outside the Camp Nou.
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 Francoistauthorities. 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.
1957–1978: Club de Fútbol Barcelona
Barcelona line up against Hamburger SVbefore the 1960–61 European Cup semi-final.
With Helenio Herrera as coach, a young Luis Suárez, the European Footballer of the Year in 1960, and two influential Hungariansrecommended by Kubala, Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor, the team won another national double in 1959 and a La Liga and Fairs Cup double in 1960. In 1961, they became the first club to beat Real Madrid in a European Cupplay-off. However, they lost 2–3 to Benfica in the final.
Luis Suárez, the first Barcelona player to win the Ballon d'Or
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 Santiago Bernabéu in front of Francisco 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 Barcelonaand 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 seasonfor the first time since 1960, defeating Real Madrid 5–0 at the Santiago Bernabéu en route. 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.
1978–2000: Núñez and stabilization
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 Diego Maradona,