There are many “super teams” in the European football theater, but FC Barcelona may be the biggest and baddest of them all. Nicknamed “Mes que un club”, or “more than a club”, it represents not only a full century of achievement and excellence, but also the regional pride of Catalonia. Based in Barcelona — as the name suggests — this team has won a whopping number of club and international championships, including 21 La Liga titles, 25 Copa Del Rey, and 10 Supercopa De Espana titles. They have, furthermore, brought home four UEFA Champions’ League titles and won a record four UEFA Cups. Like the New York Yankees of baseball or the Montreal Canadiens of ice hockey, they have perhaps the most storied past in the football world.
FC Barcelona was founded well over a century ago. In 1899, a Swiss football enthusiast named Hans Kamper placed an article in the local paper announcing his wish to form an amateur football club. Eleven players showed up for the meeting and the club was born, beginning competition the very next year and winning their first title in 1902. The team struggled to generate income at first, until they lobbied the city to build a stadium for their efforts. With the facility completed, the team began turning a healthy profit.
During the Civil War era of Spain, crowds attending the matches could get out of hand in the blink of an eye. The club responded to growing political pressures by sacking their president and generating public appeal as a team dedicated to the “Generation of 27”, or the artistic movements dedicated to remembering histories of Spain rather than taking sides in the conflict. Several members of the club volunteered to join sides during the fighting and have been remembered to this day by the association.
Following the War, the club saw its fortunes sag. Lack of money coming in meant that they were unable to compete with some of the largest teams until the “Stabilization era” in the late 1970s. Then, the club elected president Josep Nunez, who enforced strict decisions on policy and discipline, including letting go of supremely popular and talented players like Maradona and Ronaldo.
The late 1980s and 1990s set the team in motion to become a powerhouse, when they won four Supercopa titles in six years. The new millenium has been fruitful for FC Barcelona, winning a plethora of titles and signing Lionel Messi, three-time Ballon d’Or winner, a player widely considered the best in the world.
Next game: vs. Real Sociedad, Feb 4 4:00pm ET