FC Barcelona is a sports club in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. While it has divisions within in many different sports, it is most famous for its football club, founded in 1899 by a group of twelve people, led by Swiss businessman Joan Gamper.
FC Barcelona and long-standing rival Real Madrid remain the most representative teams within Spain. Barcelona, along with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid, are the only three teams in Spain to have never been relegated from Spain's top football league – 'La Liga' – which FC Barcelona have won eighteen times, including a run in the 90s that saw them win 'La Liga' for four consecutive seasons (1991 – 1994) under the management of Dutch footballing icon, Johan Cruyff. Among many other honors, FC Barcelona has also been crowned European Champions twice, as well as winning the Copa del Ray for a record 24 times.
Until recently, FC Barcelona was well known for being one of the only football clubs in the world to refuse to allow sponsors' logos on their football shirts. However, in 2006, the club announced a five-year agreement with UNICEF, which includes having the UNICEF logo on their shirts. The agreement has seen FC Barcelona donate US $ 1.9 million per year to the charity organization.
As in often the case between the two strongest teams in a national league, there is a fierce rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, with the game between La Liga's two top sides known as 'El Clasico'. The clubs are seen as representatives of two rival countries in Spain: Catalonia (Barcelona) and Castille (Real Madrid), as well as of the two cities themselves, and the rivalry projects what many regard as the political and cultural tensions felt between Catalans and the Castilians.
Barcelona play their home games at the Camp Nou (Catalan for "new field"), which is often reversed in both English and Spanish to become the Nou Camp. It is a UEFA 5-star rated stadium and has hosted a number of international competitions, including European Champions League finals.
The stadium has an official capacity of 98,772, making it the largest stadium in Europe. Away from football it has also played host to a number of notable music artists, including U2, Bruce Springsteen The Three Tenors and even Frank Sinatra; while Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in front of a congregation in excess of 120,000 people in the Camp Nou in 1982.
So, as you might expect given the great allure of the Camp Nou and the surrounding environs of Spain's second largest city, hotels in Barcelona are always likely to be in huge demand – not only from visiting football teams, but also from stars of the music world, their armies of fans and tourists looking to explore Catalonia's capital city.
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