The first European Cup victory came in 1991 | FCB Archive

The handball section was officially founded on 23 November 1943, although a team had played friendlies as early as the 1930s.

The game was originally played on football pitches between 11-a-side teams, while the form of the game that is played today, indoors and with 7-a-side teams, did not become widespread until the 1950s.

11-a-side success

The club was soon celebrating its first trophies. It claimed the Catalan and Spanish double in three consecutive seasons in the mid 1940s, and two more in 1949 and 1951. In the fifties, it added four more Catalan titles and one Spanish championship.

Consolidation of the modern game

It was not until the late sixties that Barça repeated such successes in the 7-a-side indoor variant, which was becoming the established form of the game. The first league and cup were both won in 1969. The construction of the Palau Blaugrana brought a new lease of life to FC Barcelona’s indoor sections, although handball in the seventies was dominated by Granollers, Calpisa and Atlético Madrid, with Barça only winning two cups and one league. But the most glorious period in the team’s history was just around the corner.

The golden age

The eighties started with two leagues and one Copa del Rey, but it was the arrival of Valero Rivera as head coach in 1984 that marked the real turning point. What followed were two decades of consistent success both at home and abroad. FC Barcelona dominated Spanish handball with five leagues in a row from 1987 to 1992, a run that would be repeated from 1995 to 2000, and by 2000 the club had also won nine editions of the Copa del Rey.

Euro kings

Barça also took their success up to continental level. Led by the great Serrano and Sagalés, the team won three consecutive Cup Winners’ Cups in the early eighties, and won its first European Cup in 1991. Two more Cup Winners’ Cup followed, but that was just the start of it. From 1996 to 2000, Valero Rivera’s side won an unprecedented five straight European Cups, an achievement that is unlikely to ever be repeated in this sport. They collected four European Super Cups as well.

Good bye to the Dream Team and change of direction

Rivera left in the 2003/04 season, along with one of the greatest players ever to grace the game, Enric Masip. The likes of Urdangarín, Guijosa, Ortega, Xepkin and O’Callaghan also moved on, and the handball Dream Team was no more. Xesco Espar took over the head coaching duties, assisted by former players Masip and O’Callaghan. Despite the many changes, the success continued. 

Led by captain David Barrufet, the main survivor of the Dream Team, plus some great new names like Nagy, Skrbic and Iker Romero, Barça continued to get results, winning a seventh Champions League in 2005 and the Liga Asobal in 2006.

Full house in 2015

It would not be until 2011 that the league trophy was won back, as well as Champions League number eight, with Xavi Pascual now on the bench after replacing Manolo Cadenas in 2009. Since 2011, the team has regularly been winning Spanish leagues as well as putting together an all-time record for consecutive wins. With standout players such as Víctor Tomàs, Nikola Karabatic and Jesper Noddesbo, the club won the first two editions of the Superglobe and its ninth Champions League. The crowning glory was the 2014/15 season, when the team won all seven titles on offer, thus repeating the extraordinary feat of 1999/00. 

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A photo of one of the first Barça handball teams, when it was still an 11 a side game. 

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The squad from the season 1971/72. 

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The blaugrana squad with the first European Cup won in 1991. 

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The team won the league five times in a row between 1987 and 1992, and again between 1995 and 2000. 

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Celebrations in 2000 at the Palau Blaugrana after winning the European Cup. 

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The handball team won their ninth Champions League in Cologne in 2015.