View of Camp Nou stadium

View of Camp Nou stadium

The slogan “more than a club” expresses the commitment that Futbol Club Barcelona has maintained and still maintains beyond what belongs in the realm of sport. For many years, this commitment specifically referred to Catalan society, which for many decades of the 20th century lived under dictatorships that persecuted its language and culture. Under these circumstances, Barça always supported Catalan sentiments, and the defense of its own language and culture. It was because of this that, even though Catalan was not an official language, in 1921 the club drafted its statutes in the language of Catalonia. It was also in this era that in 1918 the club adhered to a petition for a statute of autonomy for Catalonia, which was being demanded from all sectors of the catalanista movement.

The club’s orientation led to reprisals from the Spanish authorities and it was closed down for six months under the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. During the Second Spanish Republic, the club intensified its message of implication with Catalonia’s own culture and institutions. President Josep Sunyol led this process using the slogan “sport and citizen ship”, the purpose being to imply sports in the country’s social and cultural affairs. Sunyol, who was also a member of parliament, was shot dead early in the Spanish Civil War in 1936; and from then on, the club came to be an icon of the defence of the Republic, as shown by the tour of Mexico and the United States in 1937. When the Civil War ended, General Franco’s dictatorship sought to destroy the club’s social significance.

It enforced the Spanish version of its name and the removal of the four Catalan stripes from the crest. Despite the dictatorship’s persistence, in the late 1960s the club starting recovering its former spirit, as made so evident by the speeches of President Narcís de Carreras, the man who coined the famous nation of being “more than a club” in 1968. Outside of Catalonia, in many parts of Spain, Barça also became symbolic of democracy and anti-centralism. When democracy returned after the death of Franco, the club maintained its social commitment and new ways of supporting charitable causes emerged, which would later be encompassed by the creation of the club’s Foundation. Now in times of globalization, Barça has extended its social commitment to the rest of the planet, with a specially significant event being the signing of an agreement with Unicef in 2006, which was a way of saying that a sports club should not be marginal to problems going on in society, in this case, the plight of children around the world. Because of this, Barça continues to be “more than a club” both in Catalonia and elsewhere in the world, and is implied in numerous cultural, social and charity initiatives.

Catalan identity
Since it was founded, FC Barcelona has always been firmly rooted in its country, Catalonia, a commitment that has arisen out of Catalan society and that is understood by Barça supporters in the rest of Spain and the world. The club projects, with conviction and firmness, the image of Catalonia around the world. Barça defends the idea of a multicultural, integrating, fair and caring Catalonia.

When the club anthem says “It doesn’t matter where you are from” it is expressing the spirit of a club that is open to everyone, and that brings together fans from the five continents in a united brotherhood, and also expresses history and the way half of its founders were not Catalan. FCB has members and supporters clubs from more than 50 countries, from Cameroon to China, and millions of supporters that typify the wonderful unity of the club.

Social commitment
Barça is an open, integrating and caring club, and on a daily basis makes this patently clear, whether through the club’s own programmes run through the Foundation, or through agreements with such international institutions as UNICEF, or through collaborations with such local associations as the Food Bank. The projects it develops can be related to education, to the promotion of arts and culture, to community support or to developmental aid.

The club members are also its owners and decide democratically who will run the club. The democratic principle is one of the essential pillars of the club, and has only been neglected when dictatorships have prevented it. At present, Barça is one of the few major European clubs that are still governed democratically, something else that makes it so unique.