History of F.C. Barcelona
FC Barcelona had a successful start in regional and national cups, competing in the Campionat de Catalunya and the Copa del Rey. In 1902, the club won its first trophy, the Copa Macaya, and participated in the first Copa del Rey, losing 1–2 to Bizcaya in the final. In 1908, Hans Gamper – now known as Joan Gamper – became club president in a desperate attempt to save Barcelona from extinction, finding the club struggling not just on the pitch, but also financially and socially, after not winning a competition since the Campionat de Catalunya in 1905. He said in a meeting, “Barcelona cannot die and must not die. If there is nobody who is going to try, then I will assume the responsibility of running the club from now on.” Club president on five separate occasions between 1908 and 1925, he spent 25 years in total at the helm. One of his main achievements was ensuring Barça acquire its own stadium and thus generate a stable income.
On 14 March 1909, the team moved into the Camp de la Indústria, a stadium with a capacity of 8,000. To celebrate their new surroundings, the club conducted a logo contest the following year. Carles Comamala won the contest, and his suggestion became the crest that the club still wears – with some minor changes – as of the present day.
With the new stadium, Barcelona participated in the inaugural version of the Pyrenees Cup, which, at the time, consisted of the best teams of Languedoc, Midi and Aquitaine (Southern France), the Basque Country and Catalonia; all were former members of the Marca Hispanica region. The contest was the most prestigious in that era. From the inaugural year in 1910 to 1913, Barcelona won the competition four consecutive times. Carles Comamala played an integral part of the four-time champion, managing the side along with Amechazurra and Jack Greenwell. The latter became the club’s first full-time coach in 1917. The last edition was held in 1914 in the city of Barcelona, which local rivals Espanyol won.
During the same period, the club changed its official language from Castilian to Catalan and gradually evolved into an important symbol of Catalan identity. For many fans, participating in the club had less to do with the game itself and more with being a part of the club’s collective identity. On 4 February 1917, the club held its first testimonial match to honour Ramón Torralba, who played from 1913 to 1928. The match was against local side Terrassa: Barcelona won 6–2.
Gamper simultaneously launched a campaign to recruit more club members, and by 1922, the club had more than 20,000, who helped finance a new stadium. The club then moved to the new Les Cortes, which they inaugurated the same year. Les Cortes had an initial capacity of 30,000, and in the 1940s it was expanded to 60,000.
Gamper recruited Jack Greenwell as the first full-time manager in Barcelona’s history. After this hiring, the club’s fortunes began to improve on the field. During the Gamper-led era, Barcelona won eleven Campionats de Catalunya, six Copa del Rey and four Pyrenees Cups and enjoyed its first “golden age”.
1923–1957: Rivera, Republic and Civil War
On 14 June 1925, in a spontaneous reaction against Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, the crowd in the stadium jeered the Royal March. As a reprisal, the ground was closed for six months and Gamper was forced to relinquish the presidency of the club. This coincided with the transition to professional football, and, in 1926, the directors of Barcelona publicly claimed, for the first time, to operate a professional football club. On 3 July 1927, the club held a second testimonial match for Paulino Alcántara, against the Spanish national team. To kick off the match, local journalist and pilot Josep Canudas dropped the ball onto the pitch from his aeroplane. In 1928, victory in the Spanish Cup was celebrated with a poem titled “Oda a Platko”, which was written by a member of the Generation of ’27, Rafael Alberti, inspired by the heroic performance of the Barcelona goalkeeper, Franz Platko. On 23 June 1929, Barcelona won the inaugural Spanish League. A year after winning the championship, on 30 July 1930, Gamper committed suicide after a period of depression brought on by personal and financial problems.
Although they continued to have players of the standing of Josep Escolà, the club now entered a period of decline, in which political conflict overshadowed sports throughout society. Attendance at matches dropped as the citizens of Barcelona were occupied with discussing political matters. Although the team won the Campionat de Catalunya in 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1936 and 1938, success at a national level (with the exception of the 1937 disputed title) evaded them.
A month after the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, several players from Barcelona enlisted in the ranks of those who fought against the military uprising, along with players from Athletic Bilbao. On 6 August, Falangist soldiers near Guadarrama murdered club president Josep Sunyol, a representative of the pro-independence political party. He was dubbed the martyr of barcelonisme, and his murder was a defining moment in the history of FC Barcelona and Catalan identity. In the summer of 1937, the squad was on tour in Mexico and the United States, where it was received as an ambassador of the Second Spanish Republic. The tour led to the financial security of the club, but also resulted in half of the team seeking asylum in Mexico and France, making it harder for the remaining team to contest for trophies.
On 16 March 1938, Barcelona came under aerial bombardment from the Italian Air Force, causing more than 3,000 deaths, with one of the bombs hitting the club’s offices. A few months later, Catalonia came under occupation and as a symbol of the “undisciplined” Catalanism, the club, now down to just 3,486 members, faced a number of restrictions. All signs of regional nationalism, including language, flag and other signs of separatism were banned throughout Spain. The Catalan flag was banned and the club were prohibited from using non-Spanish names. These measures forced the club to change its name to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and to remove the Catalan flag from its crest.
In 1943, Barcelona faced rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Copa del Generalísimo (now the Copa del Rey). The first match at Les Corts was won by Barcelona 3–0. Real Madrid comfortably won the second leg, beating Barcelona 11–1. According to football writer Sid Lowe, “There have been relatively few mentions of the game [since] and it is not a result that has been particularly celebrated in Madrid. Indeed, the 11–1 occupies a far more prominent place in Barcelona’s history. This was the game that first formed the identification of Madrid as the team of the dictatorship and Barcelona as its victims.” It has been alleged by local journalist Paco Aguilar that Barcelona’s players were threatened by police in the changing room, though nothing was ever proven.
Despite the difficult political situation, CF Barcelona enjoyed considerable success during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1945, with Josep Samitier as coach and players like César, Ramallets and Velasco, they won La Liga for the first time since 1929. They added two more titles in 1948 and 1949. In 1949, they also won the first Copa Latina. In June 1950, Barcelona signed László Kubala, who was to be an important figure at the club.
On a rainy Sunday of 1951, the crowd left Les Corts stadium after a 2–1 win against Santander by foot, refusing to catch any trams, and surprising the Francoist authorities. The reason was simple: at the same time, a tram strike was taking place in Barcelona, receiving the support of blaugrana fans. Events like this made CF Barcelona represent much more than just Catalonia and many progressive Spaniards saw the club as a staunch defender of rights and freedoms.
Coach Ferdinand Daučík and László Kubala led the team to five different trophies including La Liga, the Copa del Generalísimo, the Copa Latina, the Copa Eva Duarte, and the Copa Martini Rossi in 1952. In 1953, the club won La Liga and the Copa del Generalísimo again.
1957–1978: Club de Fútbol Barcelona
With Helenio Herrera as coach, a young Luis Suárez, the European Footballer of the Year in 1960, and two influential Hungarians recommended by Kubala, Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor, the team won another national double in 1959 and a La Liga and Fairs Cup double in 1960. In 1961, they became the first club to beat Real Madrid in a European Cup play-off. However, they lost 2–3 to Benfica in the final.
The 1960s were less successful for the club, with Real Madrid monopolising La Liga. The completion of the Camp Nou, finished in 1957, meant the club had little money to spend on new players. The 1960s saw the emergence of Josep Maria Fusté and Carles Rexach, and the club won the Copa del Generalísimo in 1963 and the Fairs Cup in 1966. Barcelona restored some pride by beating Real Madrid 1–0 in the 1968 Copa del Generalísimo final at the Santiago Bernabéu in front of Francisco Franco, with coach Salvador Artigas, a former republican pilot in the Civil War. With the end of Franco’s dictatorship in 1974, the club changed its official name back to Futbol Club Barcelona and reverted the crest to its original design, including the original letters once again.
The 1973–74 season saw the arrival of Johan Cruyff, who was bought for a world record £920,000 from Ajax. Already an established player with Ajax, Cruyff quickly won over the Barcelona fans when he told the European press that he chose Barcelona over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with Francisco Franco. He further endeared himself when he named his son “Jordi”, after the local Catalan Saint George. Next to champions like Juan Manuel Asensi, Carles Rexach and Hugo Sotil, he helped the club win the 1973–74 season for the first time since 1960, defeating Real Madrid 5–0 at the Santiago Bernabéu en route. He was crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1973 during his first season with Barcelona (his second Ballon d’Or win; he won his first while playing for Ajax in 1971). Cruyff received this prestigious award a third time (the first player to do so) in 1974, while he was still with Barcelona.
1978–2000: Núñez and stabilization
In 1978, Josep Lluís Núñez became the first elected president of FC Barcelona, and, since then, the members of Barcelona have elected the club president. The process of electing a president of FC Barcelona was closely tied to Spain’s transition to democracy in 1974 and the end of Franco’s dictatorship. The new president’s main objective was to develop Barcelona into a world-class club by giving it stability both on and off the pitch. His presidency was to last for 22 years, and it deeply affected the image of Barcelona, as Núñez held to a strict policy regarding wages and discipline, letting go of such players as Diego Maradona, Romário and Ronaldo rather than meeting their demands.
On 16 May 1979, the club won its first European Cup Winners’ Cup by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4–3 in Basel in a final watched by more than 30,000 travelling blaugrana fans. The same year, Núñez began to invest in the club’s youth programme by converting La Masia into a dormitory for young academy players from abroad. The name of the dormitory would later become synonymous with the youth programme of Barcelona.
In June 1982, Diego Maradona was signed for a world record fee of £5 million from Boca Juniors. In the following season, under coach César Luis Menotti, Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, beating Real Madrid. Maradona’s time with Barcelona, however, was short-lived and he soon left for Napoli. At the start of the 1984–85 season, Terry Venables was hired as manager and he won La Liga with noteworthy displays by German midfielder Bernd Schuster. The next season, he took the team to their second European Cup final, only to lose on penalties to Steaua București during a dramatic evening in Seville.
Around this time, tensions began to arise between what was perceived as president Núñez’s dictatorial rule and the nationalistic support group, Boixos Nois. The group, identified with a left-wing separatism, repeatedly demanded the resignation of Núñez and openly defied him through chants and banners at matches. At the same time, Barcelona experienced an eruption in skinheads, who often identified with a right-wing separatism. The skinheads slowly transferred the Boixos Nois’ ideology from liberalism to fascism, which caused division within the group and a sudden support for Núñez’s presidency. Inspired by British hooligans, the remaining Boixos Nois became violent, causing havoc leading to large-scale arrests.
After the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Barcelona signed the English top-scorer Gary Lineker, along with goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, but the team could not achieve success, as Schuster was excluded from the team. Terry Venables was subsequently fired at the beginning of the 1987–88 season and replaced with Luis Aragonés. The season finished with the players rebelling against president Núñez, in an event known as the Hesperia mutiny, and a 1–0 victory in the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad.
In 1988, Johan Cruyff returned to the club as manager and he assembled the so-called “Dream Team”. He used a mix of Spanish players like Pep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero and Txiki Begiristain while signing international players such as Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov.
It was ten years after the inception of the youth programme, La Masia, when the young players began to graduate and play for their first team. One of the first graduates, who would later earn international acclaim, was previous Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. Under Cruyff’s guidance, Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994. They beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley, with a free kick goal from Dutch international Ronald Koeman. They also won a Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992 and three Supercopa de España trophies. With 11 trophies, Cruyff became the club’s most successful manager at that point. He also became the club’s longest consecutive serving manager, serving eight years. Cruyff’s fortune was to change, and, in his final two seasons, he failed to win any trophies and fell out with president Josep Lluís Núñez, resulting in his departure. On the legacy of Cruyff’s football philosophy and the passing style of play he introduced to the club, future coach of Barcelona Pep Guardiola would state, “Cruyff built the cathedral, our job is to maintain and renovate it.”
Reacting to Cruyff’s departure, an independent protest group was organised by Armand Caraben, Joan Laporta and Alfons Godall. The objective of the group, called L’Elefant Blau, was to oppose the presidency of Núñez, which they regarded as a corruption of the club’s traditional values. Laporta would later take over the presidency of Barcelona in 2003.
Cruyff was briefly replaced by Bobby Robson, who took charge of the club for a single season in 1996–97. He recruited Ronaldo from his previous club, PSV and delivered a cup treble, winning the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the Supercopa de España. Despite his success, Robson was only ever seen as a short-term solution while the club waited for Louis van Gaal to become available.
Like Maradona, Ronaldo only stayed a short time before he left for Inter Milan. However, new heroes emerged, such as Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert, Luis Enrique and Rivaldo, and the team won a Copa del Rey and La Liga double in 1998. In 1999, the club celebrated its centenari, winning the Primera División title, and Rivaldo became the fourth Barcelona player to be awarded European Footballer of the Year. Despite this domestic success, the failure to emulate Real Madrid in the Champions League led to van Gaal and Núñez resigning in 2000.
2000–2003: Gaspart era
The departures of Núñez and Van Gaal were hardly noticed by the fans when compared to that of Luís Figo, then club vice-captain. Figo had become a cult hero and was considered by Catalans to be one of their own. Barcelona fans, however, were distraught by Figo’s decision to join arch-rivals Real Madrid, and, during subsequent visits to the Camp Nou, Figo was given an extremely hostile reception. Upon his first return, a piglet’s head and a full bottle of whiskey were thrown at him from the crowd. The next three years saw the club in decline, and managers came and went. Van Gaal was replaced by Lorenzo Serra Ferrer who, despite an extensive investment in players in the summer of 2000, presided over a mediocre league campaign and a humiliating first-round Champions League exit, and was eventually dismissed late in the season. Long-serving coach Carles Rexach was appointed as his replacement, initially on a temporary basis, and managed to at least steer the club to the last Champions League spot on the final day of the season. Despite better form in La Liga and a good run to the semi-finals of the Champions League, Rexach was never viewed as a long-term solution and that summer Van Gaal returned to the club for a second spell as manager. What followed, despite another decent Champions League performance, was one of the worst La Liga campaigns in the club’s history, with the team as low as 15th in February 2003. This led to Van Gaal’s resignation and replacement for the rest of the campaign by Radomir Antić, though a sixth-place finish was the best that he could manage. At the end of the season, Antić’s short-term contract was not renewed, and club president Joan Gaspart resigned, his position having been made completely untenable by such a disastrous season on top of the club’s overall decline in fortunes since he became president three years prior.
2003–2010: Laporta era
Ronaldinho’s arrival in 2003 helped Barcelona “get their smile back”.
After the disappointment of the Gaspart era, the combination of a new young president, Joan Laporta, and a young new manager, former Dutch and Milan star Frank Rijkaard, saw the club bounce back. On the field, an influx of international players, including Ronaldinho, Deco, Henrik Larsson, Ludovic Giuly, Samuel Eto’o, and Rafael Márquez, combined with home grown Spanish players, such as Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi and Víctor Valdés, led to the club’s return to success. Barcelona won La Liga and the Supercopa de España in 2004–05, and Ronaldinho and Eto’o were voted first and third, respectively, in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
In the 2005–06 season, Barcelona repeated their league and Supercopa successes. The pinnacle of the league season arrived at the Santiago Bernabéu in a 3–0 win over Real Madrid. It was Rijkaard’s second victory at the Bernabéu, making him the first Barcelona manager to win there twice. Ronaldinho’s performance was so impressive that after his second goal, which was Barcelona’s third, some Real Madrid fans gave him a standing ovation.In the Champions League, Barcelona beat the English club Arsenal in the final. Trailing 1–0 to a ten-man Arsenal and with less than 15 minutes remaining, they came back to win 2–1, with substitute Henrik Larsson, in his final appearance for the club, setting up goals for Samuel Eto’o and fellow substitute Juliano Belletti, for the club’s first European Cup victory in 14 years.
Despite being the favourites and starting strongly, Barcelona finished the 2006–07 season without trophies. A pre-season US tour was later blamed for a string of injuries to key players, including leading scorer Eto’o and rising star Lionel Messi. There was open feuding as Eto’o publicly criticised coach Rijkaard and Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho also admitted that a lack of fitness affected his form. In La Liga, Barcelona were in first place for much of the season, but inconsistency in the New Year saw Real Madrid overtake them to become champions. Barcelona advanced to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, winning the first leg against Getafe 5–2, with a goal from Messi bringing comparison to Diego Maradona’s goal of the century, but then lost the second leg 4–0. They took part in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup, but were beaten by a late goal in the final against Brazilian side Internacional. In the Champions League, Barcelona were knocked out of the competition in the last 16 by eventual runners-up Liverpool on away goals.
Barcelona finished the 2007–08 season third in La Liga and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey, both times losing to the eventual champions, Manchester United and Valencia, respectively. The day after a 4–1 defeat to Real Madrid, Joan Laporta announced that Barcelona B coach Pep Guardiola would take over Frank Rijkaard’s duties on 30 June 2008.
Barcelona’s midfield combination of Andrés Iniesta (left) and Xavi (right) were at the heart of Guardiola’s tiki-taka passing style of play.
Barcelona B youth manager Pep Guardiola took over Frank Rijkaard’s duties at the conclusion of the season. Guardiola brought with him the now famous tiki-taka style of play he had been taught during his time in the Barcelona youth teams. In the process, Guardiola sold Ronaldinho and Deco and started building the Barcelona team around Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi.
Barça beat Athletic Bilbao 4–1 in the 2009 Copa del Rey Final, winning the competition for a record-breaking 25th time. A historic 2–6 victory against Real Madrid followed three days later and ensured that Barcelona became 2008–09 La Liga champions. Barça finished the season by beating the previous year’s Champions League winners Manchester United 2–0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to win their third Champions League title and completed the first ever treble won by a Spanish team. The team went on to win the 2009 Supercopa de España against Athletic Bilbao and the 2009 UEFA Super Cup against Shakhtar Donetsk, becoming the first European club to win both domestic and European Super Cups following a treble. In December 2009, Barcelona won the 2009 Club World Cup. Barcelona accomplished two new records in Spanish football in 2010 as they retained the La Liga trophy with 99 points and won the Supercopa de España for a ninth time.
2010–2014: Rosell era
After Laporta’s departure from the club in June 2010, Sandro Rosell was soon elected as the new president. The elections were held on 13 June, where he got 61.35% (57,088 votes, a record) of total votes. Rosell signed David Villa from Valencia for €40 million and Javier Mascherano from Liverpool for €19 million.
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Barcelona players that had graduated from the club’s La Masia youth system would play a major role in Spain becoming world champions. On 11 July, seven players who came through the academy participated in the final, six of which were Barcelona players whom started the match, with Iniesta scoring the winning goal against the Netherlands.
In November 2010, Barcelona defeated their main rival, Real Madrid 5–0 in El Clásico. In the 2010–11 season, Barcelona retained the La Liga trophy, their third title in succession, finishing with 96 points. In April 2011, the club reached the Copa del Rey final, losing 1–0 to Real Madrid at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia. In May, Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final 3–1 held at Wembley Stadium, a repeat of the 2009 final, winning their fourth European Cup. In August 2011, La Masia graduate Cesc Fàbregas was bought from Arsenal and he would help Barcelona defend the Spanish Supercup against Real Madrid. The Supercup victory brought the total number of official trophies to 73, matching the number of titles won by Real Madrid.
Later the same month, Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup after defeating Porto 2–0 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Cesc Fàbregas. This extended the club’s overall number of official trophies to 74, surpassing Real Madrid’s total amount of official trophies. The Super Cup victory also marked another impressive achievement as Pep Guardiola won his 12th trophy out of 15 possible in only three years at the helm of the club, becoming the all-time record holder of most titles won as a coach at Barcelona.
Barcelona celebrating their 2011 FIFA Club World Cup win against Santos FC.
In December, Barcelona won the Club World Cup for a record second time since its establishment, after defeating 2011 Copa Libertadores holders Santos 4–0 in the final thanks to two goals from Messi and goals from Xavi and Fàbregas. As a result, the overall trophy title during the reign of Guardiola was further extended and saw Barcelona win their 13th trophy out of 24 possible in four years, continuing their high-quality performance in recent world football competitions.
In the 2011–12 season, Barcelona lost the semi-finals of the Champions League against Chelsea. Right afterward, coach Guardiola, who had been on a rolling contract and had faced criticism over his recent tactics and squad selections, announced that he would step down as manager on 30 June and be succeeded by assistant Tito Vilanova. Guardiola finished his tenure with Barça winning the Copa del Rey final 3–0, bringing the tally to 14 trophies that Barça had won under his coaching.
It was announced in summer of 2012 that Tito Vilanova, assistant manager at Barcelona, would take over from Pep Guardiola as manager. Following his appointment, Barcelona went on an incredible run that saw them hold the top spot on the league table for the entire season, recording only two losses and amassing 100 points. Their top scorer once again was Lionel Messi, who scored 46 goals in La Liga, including two hat-tricks. On 11 May 2013, Barcelona were crowned as the Spanish football champions for the 22nd time, still with four games left to play. Ultimately, Barcelona ended the season 15 points clear of rivals Real Madrid, despite losing 2–1 to them at the beginning of March. They reached the semi-final stage of both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, going out to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. On 19 July, it was announced that Vilanova was resigning as Barcelona manager because his throat cancer had returned, and he would be receiving treatment for the second time after a three-month medical leave in December 2012.
2014–present: Bartomeu era
On 22 July 2013, Gerardo “Tata” Martino was confirmed as manager of Barcelona for the 2013–14 season. Barcelona’s first official games under Martino were the home and away legs of the 2013 Supercopa de España, which Barça won 1–1 on away goals. On 23 January 2014, Sandro Rosell resigned as president by the admissibility of the complaint for alleged misappropriation following the transfer of Neymar. Josep Maria Bartomeu replaced him to finish the term in 2016.
In April 2014, FIFA banned the club from buying players for the next two transfer windows following the violation of the FIFA’s rules about the transfer of footballers aged under 18. A statement on FIFA’s website read, “With regard to the case in question, FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of ten minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players, including under Annexe 2 of the Regulations. The Disciplinary Committee regarded the infringements as serious and decided to sanction the club with a transfer ban at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, together with a fine of CHF 450,000. Additionally, the club was granted a period of 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.” FIFA rejected an appeal in August but the pending appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed Barcelona to sign players during the summer of 2014.
On 17 May, in a game where they needed to defeat Atlético Madrid (who had eliminated them from the Champions League in the quarter-finals earlier in the year) to be crowned champions of La Liga for the 23rd time, they drew after Atlético defender Diego Godín headed in the equaliser in the 49th minute, giving Atlético the championship.
Two days later, it was announced that Luis Enrique would return to Barcelona as head coach, after he agreed to a two-year deal. He was recommended by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, his former national teammate. Following Enrique’s arrival, Barcelona broke their transfer record when they paid Liverpool between €81 to €94 million for striker Luis Suárez, who was serving a four-month ban from all football-related activity imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee after biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during his appearance for Uruguay in a World Cup group stage match.
In late December, Barcelona’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was unsuccessful and the original transfer ban was reinstated, leaving the club unable to utilise the 2015 winter and summer transfer windows. On 5 January 2015, Zubizareta was sacked by the board after four years as director of football. The next month, Barcelona announced the formation of a new Football Area Technical Commission, made up of vice-president Jordi Mestre, board member Javier Bordas, Carles Rexach and Ariedo Braida.
Barcelona won the treble in the 2014–15 season, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles, and became the first European team to have won the treble twice. On 17 May, the club clinched their 23rd La Liga title after defeating Atlético Madrid. This was Barcelona’s seventh La Liga title in the last ten years. On 30 May, the club defeated Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final at Camp Nou. On 6 June, Barcelona won the Champions League final with a 3–1 win against Juventus, which completed the treble, the club’s second in six years. Barcelona’s attacking trio of Messi, Suárez and Neymar, dubbed “MSN”, scored 122 goals in all competitions, the most in a season for an attacking trio in Spanish football history.
On 11 August, Barcelona started the 2015–16 season winning a joint record fifth European Super Cup by beating Sevilla 5–4 in the 2015 UEFA Super Cup. They ended the year with a 3–0 win over Argentine club River Plate in the 2015 Club World Cup final on 20 December to win the trophy for a record third time, with Suárez, Messi and Iniesta the top three players of the tournament. The Club World Cup was Barcelona’s 20th international title, a record only matched by Egyptian club Al Ahly. By scoring 180 goals in 2015 in all competitions, Barcelona set the record for most goals scored in a calendar year, breaking Real Madrid’s record of 178 goals scored in 2014.
On 4 January 2016, Barcelona’s transfer ban ended. The same day, they registered 77 players across all categories and ages, and both last summer signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal became eligible to play with the first team. On 10 February, qualifying for the sixth Copa del Rey final in the last eight seasons, Luis Enrique’s Barcelona broke the club’s record of 28 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions set by Guardiola’s team in the 2010–11 season, with a 1–1 draw with Valencia in the second leg of the 2015–16 Copa del Rey. With a 5–1 win at Rayo Vallecano on 3 March, Barcelona’s 35th match unbeaten, the club broke Real Madrid’s Spanish record of 34 games unbeaten in all competitions from the 1988–1989 season. After Barça reached 39 matches unbeaten, their run ended on 2 April 2016 with a 2–1 defeat to Real Madrid at Camp Nou. On 14 May 2016, Barcelona won their sixth La Liga title in eight seasons with a 3–0 win in the final day of the season at Granada. On 8 March 2017, Barcelona made the largest comeback in Champions League history in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League in 2nd Leg, beating Paris Saint-Germain by a score of 6–1 (aggregate score 6–5), despite losing the first leg in France by a score of 4–0. On 29 May 2017, former player Ernesto Valverde was named as Luis Enrique’s successor signing a two-year contract with an option for a further year.
On 20 September 2017, Barcelona issued a statement exercising their stance on the 2017 Catalan Referendum quoting “FC Barcelona, in holding the utmost respect for its diverse body of members, will continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way”. The match against UD Las Palmas on the referendum day was requested to be postponed by the Barcelona board due to heavy violence in Catalonia, but it (the request) was declined by La Liga, therefore being held behind closed doors. Two directors, Jordi Monés and Carles Vilarrubí, handed in a resignation in protest to the game being played.