FC Barcelona are the most successful club in domestic Spanish football having won 25 La Ligas and 30 Copa del Reys. They have also won the European Cup five times, plus four European Cup Winners Cups and four Inter-Cities Fairs Cups.
In 2008-09, Barcelona became the first Spanish side to win the treble consisting of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the Champions League - it was a feat they repeated in 2014-15. That same year, it also became the first football club ever to win six out of six competitions in a single year, which included the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
The club has long been a favourite not just in Catalonia, where it is seen as anti-General Franco and a symbol of independence, but in all corners of globe. Neutral fans are attracted by the club's philosophy of playing attractive passing football, by its ability through history to attract the world's finest players, and even by its membership structure; rather than being one rich man's plaything, it is owned by the fans, who elect their own president. It is true that, like its motto, Barcelona is "Mas que un club" – more than just a club.
It was formed in 1899 by the Swiss-born Hans Gamper, who enabled the club to buy their first ground in 1909, with a capacity of just 6,000. Gamper then oversaw the development of the Les Corts stadium, initially with room for 30,000, although it was later doubled in size.
In the 1930s, with the advent of the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona became a target for the fascist forces of General Franco. Club president Josep Senol was murdered in 1936, their social club was bombed in 1938 and before a game against Real Madrid in 1943 they were threatened by Franco's head of security and instructed to lose the game. They did so, capitulating 11-1 in protest, and then saw their goalkeeper banned from football for the rest of his life.
Overshadowed in the Fifties and Sixties by the all-conquering Real Madrid side of Ferenc Puskas, the arrival in 1973 of Johan Cruyff was to herald a new era for the club. He immediately led the side to their first title for 14 years, defeating Madrid 5-0 at the Bernabeu that season for good measure. He was crowned European Footballer of the Year the same year, and became the first player ever to win this prestigious award a third time, in 1974 while he was still with Barcelona.
In 1978 Josep Lluís Núñez became the first elected president of the club and in his 22-year tenure oversaw the arrival of many legends; Diego Maradona, Gheorge Hagi, Ronald Koeman, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Hristo Stoichkov to name but a few. Seven La Liga titles were accrued in his time at the helm, as well as the club's first European Cup, at Wembley in 1992.
They had to wait until 2006 for the second, in the era of Deco, Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho. They beat Arsenal by 2-1 in Paris, both goals being set up by Henrik Larsson.
The emergence of Xavi, Anres Iniesta and Leo Messi, and then the acquisition of Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez, brought the good times well and truly back at the Nou Camp.