A hundred years of emotion
Few organisations reach their one hundredth anniversary, for doing so requires consistence and continuity. The aim of FC Barcelona's centenary was to celebrate the link between a glorious past and new hope for the future.
The commemorative events saw an outpouring of Barça sentiment, and offered an emotional opportunity to spend a year looking back at the Club's proud history. Several important personages from Catalan culture were involved, as did the media and several major organisations. Famous artist Antoni Tàpies designed the official Centenary poster, thus adding his name to list of internationally renowned artists and writers that have helped aggrandise FC Barcelona's symbolic universe over the years.
The 1998-99 season, that of the Centenary celebrations, was also historic because of the many sporting achievements: all four of the Club's professional sections (Football, Basketball, Handball and Roller Hockey) won their respective league titles.
In 2003, newly elected president Joan Laporta brought with him a young and dynamic generation of directors who totally changed the Club's image. His priority was to make it possible for the club's sporting successes to have a knock-on effect on the more social aspects of the Club.
The following years were spectacular in many ways: there was sporting success, an exponential increase in membership, economic progress that situated the Club among the world's elite and an unprecedented focus on charity projects that was culminated with Barça's collaboration agreement with Unicef in 2006, which projects Barça's caring image around the world, thus definitively globalising the notion of being "more than a club".
The most long-awaited victory of all, the second European Cup title, came thanks to a team led by Ronaldinho, much to the delight of the fans, who were once again dreaming big after winning two consecutive league titles.
Barça won its first League and Cup double in 39 years
Louis Van Gaal took over as manager of FC Barcelona from Bobby Robson, who had won the Cup Winners Cup and Copa del Rey in his only year at the Club, 1996-97, with a team led by the young and effective striker, Ronaldo,
Van Gaal led Barça to its first League and Cup double in 39 years. In his second season at FC Barcelona, the Dutchman retained the League title.
The commemorative events lasted a whole year
The Club wanted the FC Barcelona Centenary celebrations to go on for a year. The fans and sportspeople enjoyed a series of commemorative events between November 1998 and November 1999.
It all started with a massive fiesta in the stadium. One of the most memorable moments came when legendary Catalan singer Manuel Serrat sung the Barça anthem before one hundred thousand spectators.
Another emotional moment was the parade of hundreds of sportspeople that have defended the FCB colours over the years.
On 11 May 2003, Barça’s Basketball team ended its disappointing European track record to win the Euroleague, formerly known as the European Champions’ Cup
Following five defeats, the team, coached by Svetislav Pešić and led by Dejan Bodiroga, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Juan Carlos Navarro, finally won the Euroleague title. Barça defeated Benetton Treviso 76-65 at a packed Palau Sant Jordi. Dejan Bodiroga was named MVP of the Final Four played in Barcelona.
On May 17, 2006, Barça had its name engraved on the Champions League trophy for the second time after overcoming Arsenal 2-1 in Paris
The goals by Eto’o and Belletti illuminated the Stade de France. It was the victory of joyous football, the so-called “jogo bonito”, a bold and daring style, acclaimed the world over. Thousands of members and fans celebrated the victory in Paris, and millions more followed suit in Barcelona and other cities inside and outside Catalonia.
In 2006 a historic agreement was signed with UNICEF
In 2006 a historic agreement was signed with UNICEF, by virtue of which the Club undertook to collaborate financially with this association, which works for children’s rights and their protection, and whose anagram the Club’s first-team shirt now bears. The first match in which the team sported the shirt with the UNICEF logo was on 12 September 2006, in the Camp Nou, in a Champions League match against Levski Sofia. Barça put on yet another brilliant exhibition that ended with a resounding 5-0 victory.
Good times return with Rijkaard and Ronaldinho
In June 2003, the members voted in a new Board of Directors led by Joan Laporta. The new Board signed Frank Rijkaard as manager and Ronaldinho as its new star. The Club had just gone four years without a major trophy, and the Brazilian's arrival generated the kind of expectations that had been lacking for far too long.
Rijkaard's side stormed to the 2004-05 League title, and retained their title a year later. Ronaldinho was the iconic figurehead of that team, assisted by the likes of Edmilson, Giuly, Belletti, Sylvinho and most especially, Deco and Eto'o, plus a number of locally produced stars in Valdés, Oleguer, Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta.