Futbol Club Barcelona, known simply as Barcelona and colloquially as Barça, is a professional football club based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Catalan footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has become a symbol of Catalan culture and Catalanism.
Unlike many other football clubs, the supporters own and operate Barcelona. It is the third most valuable sports team in the world, worth $4.07 billion, and the world's third richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of €648.3 million.
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The club's original crest was a quartered diamond-shaped crest topped by the Crown of Aragon and the bat of King James, and surrounded by two branches, one of a laurel tree and the other a palm. The club shared Barcelona's coat of arms, as a demonstration of its identification with the city and a desire to be recognised as one. In 1910, the club held a competition among its members to design a new crest. The winner was Carles Comamala, who at the time played for the club. Comamala's suggestion became the crest that the club wears today, with some minor variations. The crest consists of the St George Cross in the upper-left corner with the Catalan flag beside it, and the team colours at the bottom.
The blue and red colours of the shirt were first worn in a match against Hispania in 1900. Several competing theories have been put forth for the blue and red design of the Barcelona shirt. The son of the first president, Arthur Witty, claimed it was the idea of his father as the colours were the same as the Merchant Taylor's School team. Another explanation, according to author Toni Strubell, is that the colours are from Robespierre's First Republic. In Catalonia the common perception is that the colours were chosen by Joan Gamper and are those of his home team, FC Basel. The club's most frequently used change colours have been yellow and orange. An away kit featuring the red and yellow stripes of the flag of Catalonia has also been used many times.
There is often a fierce rivalry between the two strongest teams in a national league, and this is particularly the case in La Liga, where the game between Barcelona and Real Madrid is known as El Clásico. From the start of national competitions, the clubs were seen as representatives of two rival regions in Spain: Catalonia and Castile, as well as of the two cities. The rivalry reflects what many regard as the political and cultural tensions felt between Catalans and the Castilians, seen by one author as a re-enactment of the Spanish Civil War.
Barça's local rival has always been Espanyol. Blanc-i-blaus, being one of the clubs granted royal patronage, was founded exclusively by Spanish football fans, unlike the multinational nature of Barça's primary board. The founding message of the club was clearly anti-Barcelona, and they disapprovingly saw FC Barcelona as a team of foreigners. The rivalry was strengthened by what Catalonians saw as a provocative representative of Madrid. Their original ground was in the affluent district of Sarrià.
Barcelona's rival in European football is Italian club A.C. Milan. The team against which Barcelona has played the most matches, it is also the second most played match in European competitions, tied with Real Madrid–Juventus and both after Real Madrid–Bayern Munich.
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Often considered the best player in the world and regarded by many as one of the greatest players of all time. Messi has won a record-tying five Ballon d'Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and a record five European Golden Shoes. Both a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga (390), a La Liga season (50), a club football season in Europe (73), a calendar year (91), El Clásico (26), as well as those for most assists in La Liga (153) and the Copa América (11). He has scored over 650 senior career goals for club and country.
Xavier Hernández Creus (born 25 January 1980) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC. He is known for playing for the Spain national team and Barcelona. Xavi came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, at age 11 and made his first-team debut against Mallorca in August 1998. Since then, he has played 700 matches, scored 82 goals and made more than 180 assists for over 50 players. Xavi is the first player in Barcelona's history to play 150 international matches. Highly regarded for his humble persona and team ethos, Xavi is viewed as being the embodiment of the tiki-taka passing style of play and is widely considered to be one of the greatest central midfielders of all time. He is also considered by many to be the greatest Spanish player ever.
Andrés Iniesta Luján (born 11 May 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Japanese club Vissel Kobe. He spent most of his career at Barcelona, where he served as the captain for three seasons. Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, after an early migration from his birthplace, and impressed from an early age. Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona sides that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015, and his 33 trophies, which includes nine La Ligas and four UEFA Champions League titles, make him the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaúcho, is a Brazilian former professional footballer and ambassador for Spanish club Barcelona. He played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a forward or a winger. Often considered one of the best players of his generation and regarded by many as one of the greatest of all time, Ronaldinho won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d'Or. He was renowned for his technical skills and creativity; due to his agility, pace and dribbling ability, as well as his use of tricks, feints, overhead kicks, no-look passes and accuracy from free-kicks.
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