Even if you don't realise it, you have probably seen Barcelona FC's motto dozens of times before. It is written in large letters across the seats in the Camp Nou stadium - 'MES QUE UN CLUB'. This is Catalan for 'More than a Club'. It sums up and details everything that this very unique club stands for. The phrase was coined in 1968 and is said to sum up the social aspects of what the club do, as well as its strong Catalan spirit.
To understand the importance of Barcelona FC's status it is important to understand its history:
In 1899 Joan Gamper, a Swiss man, decided to introduce football to Barcelona by setting up a team. The club was officially founded on 29th November 1899.
It grew from strength to strength, winning titles such as the Macaya Cup in 1902, the Pyrenees Cup in 1910 - 1912.
Barcelona FC built their first stadium in 1909 with a capacity of 6,000 people.
During the 1920's the team's fame and success grew. They won the first Championship League in the 1928 - 1929 season. With the club's new popularity it was necessary to build a new stadium. In 1922 the 'Les Corts' stadium was built, with a capacity of 22,000 people.
It is important to remember that Barcelona FC has survived a Civil War. In 1936 Franco's troops shot the club president, Josep Sunyol due to his membership of a left wing party.
All Barcelona FC fans are proud of what is called the 'Five Cups' Season. This was the period between 1951 - 1952 when Barcelona FC won the Cup, the League, the Latin Cup, the Martini Rosso and the Eva Duarte.
In 1957 Camp Nou was built, with an initial capacity of 90,000 people.
|Barcelona FC's Camp Nou Stadium|
Barcelona's success grew from strength to strength. By 1983 the team was able to afford players such as Bernd Schuster and Diego Maradona.
In 1988 - 1989 the arrival of the legendary Johan Cruyff as the team coach saw many changes made on the team. Barca were very strong at this point and winning many competitions. Barca fans began chanting "now we've got a new team".
In 1996 - 97 two new arrivals to the team had a great affect - Bobby Robson on the bench and Ronaldo on the pitch. This was a successful year for the team.
In 2003 a new wave of players joined the team. These included Rijkaard and Ronaldinho, Puyol and Xavi.
In 2004 - 2005 players such as Deco and Eto'o joined the team.
In the 2004 - 2005 season FC Barcelona won the league. This happened again in 2005 - 2006 when the club won the League again and the European Cup in Paris.
One thing that makes Barcelona FC truly unique is its status as a 'Football Club'. It is one of the few remaining teams that is not a limited company. This means that the club is still owned by its members - there are 144 thousand of them. These members also choose the President of the team through a complex voting system.
Barcelona FC's objectives are reflected strongly in their refusal to accept a corporate strip sponsor. On 07 September 2006 the team announced their new alliance with UNICEF children's charity. They pledged a yearly sum in donations to the HIV/AIDS department of the charity. They also used the space across their chests normally saved for major corporations to advertise UNICEF and thus, its cause. The team continue to wear the UNICEF logo on their strips.
It is clear that Barcelona FC are well within their rights to claim that the institution that they have created is "more than a club".
If you're visiting Barcelona you may wish to go on the famous Barcelona FC stadium and museum tour which is the most popular tour in Barcelona.