FC Barcelona have transcended simply being a sports team and come to represent Catalan culture and heritage, whilst also being one of the most popular, successful and richest football teams in the world. Whether you’re a football fanatic or not, you should know these ten FC Barcelona facts before visiting the city! Want to know more? Simply head to FC Barcelona’s home ground Camp Nou for a behind-the-scenes tour with the Barcelona Pass!
FC Barcelona was founded after Joan Gamper put out a newspaper ad for players.
In 1899, Gamper placed an advertisement in a local newspaper called Los Deportes in October and the team met for the first time in late November at Gimnasio Solé. Originally Swiss, he fell in love with Barcelona after visiting and had always been a sports enthusiast, which led him to create the popular football team.
Despite living in Barcelona for years, Lionel Messi rarely speaks Catalan.
The club’s star player originally comes from Argentina where they speak Spanish, as opposed to Catalan. Despite the fact that most of FC Barcelona’s players have to learn Catalan as part of their contract, Messi refrains from speaking it. All of his interviews are conducted in Spanish and he’s only been known to publicly speak Catalan once, when FC Barcelona won a league title and he was given a megaphone. He was also drunk.
The nickname for FC Barcelona fans literally translates to butt.
Fans of the football club are frequently referred to as los culés, or asses. The story goes that back in the twenties, Barcelona fans used to sit at the top of the Les Corts stadium and moon people walking by which is where the name originates.
FC Barcelona’s notorious rivalry with Real Madrid goes beyond sports.
During Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid became increasingly politicised. Endorsed by Franco and held up as a symbol of nationalism, Real Madrid’s politics were at odds with FC Barcelona’s rebel heart and Catalonian spirit. Their fiery relationship has become so notorious that it has even garnered itself a name: El Clasico.
For a period of time, FC Barcelona’s Catalan identity was erased.
Under Franco’s rule, FC Barcelona was forced to make a few changes to diminish their Catalan ties. The name of the club was changed to Club de Football Barcelona and the Catalan flag was removed from their branding. In 1974, they changed their name back to Futbal Club Barcelona. FC Barcelona’s motto ‘Més que un club’ (more than a club) was coined during that era and was seen by many as a direct affront to the regime.
FC Barcelona has the highest number of players with a Ballon d’Or.
Every year, FIFA awards the world’s best football player with a Ballon d’Or and FC Barcelona’s players have many of them. The team has collectively eleven Ballon d’Or trophies with Messi having won five of them.
After founder Joan Gamper passed away, FC Barcelona retired his club membership number forever.
Joan Gamper struggled with depression for years and committed suicide at 52 years old. To honour him, FC Barcelona retired his membership number and a street in the Les Corts district was renamed Carrer de Joan Gamper after him.
Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium is the largest in Europe.
With record numbers of people attending football games in Barcelona, a larger stadium needed to be built to accommodate more fans. Enter Camp Nou (literally the ‘new stadium’), which after some renovation can now seat 103,000 people at a time. It’s the second largest stadium in the world after Maracana Stadium in Brazil, which holds 120,000 people.
FC Barcelona broke their no corporate logos on uniform policy for a charity.
Since its inception, FC Barcelona avoided plastering logos on their jersey. In 2006, the club partnered with Unicef and first of all wore uniforms with the charity’s name on it and donated 1.5 million Euros every year for five years.
Some of the players participated in the Spanish Civil War.
As the Spanish Civil War tore the country apart, several players from FC Barcelona joined the fight against the military uprising. The club’s president at the time Josep Sunyol was a prominent figure and was murdered by soldiers, which cemented the club’s political links and strong sense of Catalan pride.