Gamper compartint lectura de premsa esportiva francesa

It was on October 22, 1899, when Barça’s destiny was sealed. A Swiss gentleman named Joan Gamper placed an advertisement in Los Deportes looking for people to help him found a football club. FC Barcelona came into being just over a month later.

Resident in Barcelona since 1898, Hans Gamper, known locally as Joan, was a Swiss sportsman looking to play football in the city, and who first made contact with Jaume Vila, owner of the Tolosa Gynmasiyum, where he had been told that some of the members were playing the game in the old Velodrome at Bonanova. In 1899, there was no proper football pitch in the city, and the game was simply played on an impromptu and improvised basis in any open space that could be found, even in the street, or on facilities designed for the practice of other sports.

Rejected at first

At least initially, Gamper’s idea was not much of a success. Vila was unenthusiastic about the idea of creating a team involving foreigners. But Gamper didn’t give up, and also contacted Manuel Solé at the Solé Gymnasium, at number 5 C/Montjuïc del Carme (on the corner of Pintor Fortuny, and close the Rambles and Canaletes). Football wasn’t played by the members of that gym, but his project was listened to with a little more eagerness. In association with the Catalan Gymnastics Association, it produced a magazine called Los Deportes and Gamper was invited to place an advertisement to help find like-minded citizens.

The legendary announcement

Gamper’s short piece appeared in number 34 of the weekly paper on October 22, 1899, and proclaimed that “Our friend and colleague Mr. Kans Kamper, of the Foot-Vall section of the Sociedad Los Deportes and former Swiss champion, in the desire to organise some matches in Barcelona, invites anyone who feels an interest in said sport to get in contact with him, coming for said purpose to this office on Tuesdays and Fridays in the evening from 9 to 11.”

Leaving aside the very late hour, the spelling mistakes suggest that the editor had little idea of the game in question. In fact, such was ignorance of football among Barcelonans of the age that the press felt obliged to include such colourful descriptions as the following: “The game involves passing the ball through a gate formed by a wooden crossbar, the custody of which is entrusted to a guard on each team playing the game”.

FC Barcelona becomes a reality

Given the circumstances, the announcement was a success. Just over a month later, on November 29, 1899, Joan Gamper and eleven sportsmen (six Catalans, three Swiss and two Englishmen) answered the call and FC Barcelona was founded at the Solé Gymnasium. The headstrong Swiss gentleman had got what he wanted in the end.

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