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1996-2008. Barça reaches its century

1996-2008. Barça reaches its century

The centenary celebrations were a demonstration of what Barça means to people, an emotional journey through the Club's history that lasted the whole year

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 figures 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".

VAN GAAL AND SUCCESSIVE LEAGUE TITLES

39 since they had last achieved the feat, Louis Van Gaal's side won the League and Cup double in 1997/98. The following season the Dutchman also led his team to the league title. 

CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

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 28 November 1998 and 29 November 1999. It all started with a massive fiesta in the stadium. One of the most memorable moments came when legendary Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat sung the Barça anthem before one hundred thousand spectators. Another emotional moment came on 28 April 1999 with the parade of hundreds of sportspeople that have defended the FC Barcelona colours over the years.

FIRST EUROLEAGUE TITLE

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.

NEW ERA WITH PRESIDENT LAPORTA 

In June 2003, the club members voted in a new board of directors, led by Joan Laporta. The new board brought in Frank Rijkaard as coach and Ronaldinho was signed to lead the team on the field. The Club had suffered four lean seasons and the arrival of the Brazilian was a much needed injection of optimism for Barça. 

Rijkaard's tema won the league in 2004/05 in style and retained the title the following season. The team was led by Ronaldinho alongside the likes of Edmílson, Giuly, Belletti, Sylvinho and the duo of Deco and Eto’o. Home grown players such as Valdés, Oleguer, Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta also played a vital role in the team's success. 

SECOND CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TITLE IN PARIS 

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.

HISTORIC AGREEMENT WITH UNICEF

In 2006 an 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.

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