Joan Gamper

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Joan Gamper
Joan Gamper in 1910
Hans Max Gamper-Haessig

(1877-11-22)22 November 1877
Winterthur, Switzerland
Died30 July 1930(1930-07-30) (aged 52)
Barcelona, Spain
Resting placeCemetery of Montjuïc
41°21′19″N 2°09′18″E / 41.355299°N 2.155061°E / 41.355299; 2.155061 (Montjuïc Cemetery)
CitizenshipSwiss and Spanish
  • Athlete
  • businessman
Known forFounder of FC Zürich, FC Barcelona, Player at FC Basel
Political partyLiberation Party of Pardi

Association football career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1899–1903 Barcelona 55 (126)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Hans Max Gamper-Haessig[1] (German pronunciation: [hans maks ˈɡampər ˈhɛːsɪg]; 22 November 1877 – 30 July 1930), commonly known as Joan Gamper (IPA: [ʒuˈaŋ ˈɡampər]), was a Swiss-born football executive and versatile athlete. He founded football clubs in Switzerland and Spain, most notably FC Barcelona and FC Zürich.

He is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the amateur beginnings of FC Barcelona, being the fundamental head behind the foundation of the club in 1899, and then serving as the club's first captain between 1899 and 1903, netting over 100 goals in just 48 matches for Barça and in 1902, he captained his side to a victory in the Copa Macaya, the club's first title.[2] He then served as its president on five separate occasions between 1908 and 1925. One of his main achievements was getting the funds for the construction of their own stadium in 1909, the Camp de la Indústria, which is regarded as the main element that helped the club grow in the 1910s.[3] Under Gamper's leadership, Barcelona won eleven Championat de Catalunya, six Copa del Rey and four Pyrenees Cup.

Early years[edit]

Hans-Max Gamper (his mother's maiden name – Haessig – is generally appended in Spanish sources) was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. He was the eldest son and third of five children born to August Gamper and Rosine Emma Haessig. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was eight and the family moved to Zürich. He became a citizen of the city and in his later youth started to learn his craft as a tradesman in an apprenticeship at the silk trade house Grieder at the centrally located Paradeplatz.[4] As a youngster, Gamper was a keen cyclist and runner. In 1893, 15 years old, he was one of the pacers of Swiss champion Edouard Wicky in a match race competition over 100 km (against Gaston Béguin).[5] Throughout his life he was a lover of all sports and, apart from football, he also played rugby union, tennis and golf.[6] In Switzerland, he was highly regarded as a footballer. His first football club was Excelsior Zürich which was playing in the same colours (red and blue) as later FC Barcelona.[7] After some members of Excelsior split off to form FC Turicum Zürich, they reunited with Excelsior in 1896 to form FC Zürich.[citation needed] Gamper was a co-founder and the first captain of the club's history. In the early years of football in Switzerland, it was allowed to play for an indefinite number of teams from other cities as a guest player in friendly games – Gamper is known to have played among others two games for FC Winterthur and FC Basel. Hans Gamper representing FC Zürich was in 1898 holder of the Swiss records over the 800m and 1600m track distances.[8] He also organized the first international athletics competition in Zürich during autumn of the same year. Today, this event is one of the most renowned international athletics events worldwide, the Weltklasse Zürich (organized by FC Zürich spin-off LC Zürich). In 1897, work took him temporarily to Lyon in France, where he played rugby for Athletique Union.[6] The other names they called him, all came from the difficulty the Catalan people had, pronouncing the German "H" and "G": Hans became Kans, Gamper became Kamper. But he is most known as Johannes, becoming Joan Gamper.[citation needed]

FC Barcelona[edit]

Foundation of the club[edit]

Gamper's 1899 ad in Los Deportes

In 1899, Gamper went to Barcelona to visit his uncle who was living there. He was on his way to Africa to help set up some sugar trading companies but fell in love with the Catalan city and decided to stay put. He would later become a fluent Catalan speaker and adopt the Catalan version of his name: "Joan Gamper". As an accountant, he found work with Crédit Lyonnais, the Sarrià Railway Company and as a sports columnist, he worked for two Swiss newspapers.[9] Gamper joined the local Swiss Evangelical Church and began playing football within the local Christian Protestant community in the district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. During his free time, he also played football with a group of friends at the Velódromo de la Bonanova.[9]

When Gamper, who had already founded clubs in his home country, decided to do the same in his new city, he contacted Jaime Vila, the director of the Tolosa gym, which at the time was the home to a group of football enthusiasts that was also practicing the sport in Bonanova. He proposed to him the idea of creating a well-organized football club, but Vila rejected him as he did not want foreigners in its ranks and ended up founding Català FC in October 1899.[10] This did not discourage him, however, with Gamper now aiming to create an organization that was open to everyone, regardless of their origin. He envisaged a club that served as a means of social integration, in which everyone could speak their mind, and create a democratic society that was freely governed by its members.[9]

Immediately afterwards, he and his friend Walter Wild arrived at the Gimnasio Solé. There they were well received by Narciso Masferrer, who had the headquarters of his numerous associations and of the Los Deportes newsroom in the said gym, and they did not take long to publish Gamper's infamous advert declaring his wish to form a football club, published on 22 October 1899.[11][6][12] A positive response resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé on 29 November and "Futbol Club Barcelona" was born. The founders included a collection of Swiss, British, and Spanish enthusiasts.[13][9][a] It is not known if Gamper chose the legendary club colours, blaugrana, after FC Basel or Excelsior Zürich, although the official version states that brothers Arthur and Ernest Witty (both very involved with the club in its first years) proposed the blaugrana colors, the same used by the rugby team of Merchant Taylors' School in Great Crosby (which they had attended).[14][9]

Playing career[edit]

Gamper as player of FC Barcelona in 1902

Although Gamper was the driving force behind the club, initially he chose to only be a board member and club captain.[citation needed] He was still only 22 and wanted to concentrate on playing, featuring in the club's first-ever game held at Bonanova on 8 December 1899 against a team known as Team Anglès, which consisted of members of the British colony living in Barcelona, where he captained his side in a 0–1 loss.[11][6][15] In the club's second game, he was the author of Barça's first ever goal, netting twice in a 3–1 win over Català FC.[11] Gamper played 55 games for FC Barcelona between 1899 and 1903, scoring 126 goals, thus achieving a game ratio of 2.35 goals per game.[11] Gamper scored most of his goals in official competitions, with 31 of them coming in the 1900–01 Copa Macaya alone, netting two 9-goal hauls against Franco-Española and Club Tarragona, and a further 8-goal haul in the return game with Franco, but despite his goalscoring prowess, Barça ended as runner-ups to Hispania AC.[16] In the following season, however, he helped Barcelona win the club's first trophy, the Copa Macaya in 1901–02, netting a hat-trick on the final matchday on 23 March 1902 in a 15–0 victory over Català SC.[2] He was the tournament's top goal scorer again with 19 goals, just two more than teammate Udo Steinberg. The Copa Macaya is now recognized as the first Catalan championship.

In 1902, Gamper was a member of the Barcelona team that participated in the Copa de la Coronación (predecessor of Copa del Rey), and in the semi-finals on 13 May, Barça faced Real Madrid CF (then Madrid FC) for the first time, and Gamper netted a goal to help his side to a 3–1 win in the first-ever El Clásico.[17] In the final, however, Barça lost 2–1 to Club Vizcaya.[18] In 1903, he added a new title to his career, the Copa Barcelona, which was later recognized as the fourth edition of the Catalan Championship. On 1 February 1903, Gamper scored 9 goals to help Barça to a 13–0 win over X Sporting Club in the Copa Barcelona, thus becoming the first and only player to score three 9-goal hauls in his career at Barça.[11] In fact, he is the only one to have done it in a competitive match, since Josep Escolà, who also scored 9 goals for Barça in a 11–1 trashing of Real Unión in 1935, but that was a friendly match.[19]

Club presidency[edit]

In 1908 Gamper became president of Barcelona for the first time. Gamper took over the presidency as the club was on the verge of folding. Several of the club's better players had retired and had not been replaced. This soon began to affect the club's performances both on and off the field. The club had not won anything since the Campionat de Catalunya of 1905 and its finances suffered as a result. He was subsequently club president on five separate occasions (1908–09, 1910–13, 1917–19, 1921–23 and 1924–25) and spent 25 years at the helm.[9] One of his main achievements was to help Barça acquire their own stadium. Until 1909 the team played at various grounds, none of them owned by the club. Gamper raised funds from local businesses and on 14 March 1909, they moved into the Camp de la Indústria, a stadium with an initial capacity of 1,500 spectators, but in 1916 it increased to 6,000, and it was considered the best in the city. He also launched a campaign to recruit more club members and by 1922 the club had over 10,000. This led to the club moving again, this time to Les Corts. This stadium had an initial capacity of 20,000, later expanded to an impressive 48,000 in 1946.[20]

Gamper also recruited the legendary player Paulino Alcántara, the club's seventh all-time top-scorer, and in 1917 appointed Jack Greenwell as manager.[citation needed] This saw the club's fortunes begin to improve on the field. During the Gamper era, FC Barcelona won eleven Championat de Catalunya, six Copa del Rey and four Pyrenees Cup and enjoyed its first golden age. As well as Alcántara the Barça team under Greenwell also included Sagibarba, Ricardo Zamora, Josep Samitier, Félix Sesúmaga and Franz Platko.[21]

Gamper's final presidency ended in controversial circumstances and personal tragedy. On 24 June 1925, FC Barcelona fans jeered the Spanish national anthem and then applauded God Save the King, performed by a visiting British Royal Marine band. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera accused Gamper of promoting Catalan nationalism.[22] And in fact, as a sign of his gratitude to Catalonia, the country that had welcomed him, Gamper imbued FC Barcelona with the essence that has come to define it ever since: its commitment to Catalan identity.[9] Gamper was forced into exile after the events of Les Corts of 1925.[11]

The club which he saved various times from disappearing, paid a tribute to him, along with all of Catalan football on 25 February 1923, and another posthumous tribute was made on 24 June 1934, both at the Les Corts ground.[11]


Funeral of Gamper in Barcelona

On 30 July 1930, Gamper committed suicide after a period of depression, probably as a result of his business problems.[23][24]

His funeral was attended by many people in the city.[25] Players of FC Barcelona took the coffin to the Cemetery of Montjuïc, where Gamper was buried.[22]


In 1966 the FC Barcelona president Enric Llaudet created the Joan Gamper Trophy in his honour.[22] This is a pre-season tournament featuring international teams as guests and is traditionally used by the club to unveil the team for the forthcoming season. The club also permanently retired his club membership number and the city named a street, Carrer de Joan Gamper in Les Corts district, after him. In 2016 also in Zurich a small street in a central location of the city already named "Gamperstrasse" has been dedicated to him.[26]

In 2002 FC Barcelona marked the 125th anniversary of his birth.[citation needed] In 2004 the Winterthur Group, a Swiss insurance company with offices in Barcelona since 1910, became sponsors of the FC Barcelona basketball team, which led to the team featuring the birthplace of Gamper on their shirts and in their name Winterthur FCB until 2007, after Winterthur Group was purchased by AXA.[citation needed] Perhaps this and the fact that the club developed into a polideportivo, the very personification of Gamper, is the most fitting tribute to this all-round sportsman. Today Barcelona is "more than just a football club". It promotes amateur track and field sports and has rugby union and cycling teams. All of these were sports played by Gamper. Barça also has professional basketball, handball and roller hockey teams as well as amateur indoor football, women's football, volleyball, baseball and field hockey teams. Over the years they have even had an ice hockey team.[citation needed]



FC Barcelona



  1. ^ The twelve founders were Joan Gamper, Walter Wild, Luis de Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Josep Llobet, John Parsons, and William Parsons.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rodes i Català, Agustí (2001). Joan Gamper, una vida entregada al FC Barcelona (in Catalan). Barcelona: Ediciones Joica. p. 270. ISBN 978-84-931884-5-0.
  • Gamper Soriano, Emma (2008). De Hans Gamper a Joan Gamper: una biografia emocional (in Catalan). Editorial El Clavell. p. 252. ISBN 978-84-89841-48-2.


  1. ^ "Hans Gamper – FC Winterthur". 9 October 2016. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Barça Rewind: The first ever title". 23 March 2020. Archived from the original on 19 September 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  3. ^ "El campo de la calle Industria, 111 años" [The field of Industria street, 111 years]. (in Spanish). 14 March 2020. Archived from the original on 27 November 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  4. ^ "Ein Hauch Barça in Aussersihl". 21 January 2016. Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 27 July 2022 – via
  5. ^ "Aus der Schweiz". Radfahrer-Zeitung. 25 August 1893. p. 352.
  6. ^ a b c d "Joan Gamper, FC Barcelona founder and first reporter". Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  7. ^ Böni, Nadine (12 July 2012). "Fussball-Historie - Hat Hans Gamper bei der Gründung des FC Barcelona gar nicht an Basel gedacht?". bz - Zeitung für die Region Basel. Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  8. ^ "Leichtathletik: Beim FCZ seit 1896". Archived from the original on 2 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "1899 -1909. Foundation and survival". Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  10. ^ "Total Football: History of the Spanish football (I): The Origins". 9 September 2011. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Hans 'Joan'max Gamper Haessig stats". Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Joan Gamper o Narciso Masferrer: ¿Quién es el verdadero fundador del Barça?" [Joan Gamper or Narciso Masferrer: Who is the true founder of Barça?]. (in Spanish). 7 May 2013. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 20 September 2022.
  13. ^ Ball, Phil p. 89
  14. ^ "Los orígenes de las camisetas rojas y azules del FC Barcelona" [The origins of the red and blue shirts of FC Barcelon]. El Universo. 23 April 2020. Archived from the original on 30 April 2022. Retrieved 20 September 2022.
  15. ^ "Barcelona 0–1 Team Anglès". La Vanguardia. 9 December 1899. Archived from the original on 20 September 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Primera edición de la Copa Macaya Enero-Abril 1901" [First edition of the Macaya Cup January-April 1901] (in Spanish). CIHEFE. 1 June 2014. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  17. ^ "FC Barcelona - Madrid FC (3 - 1) 13/05/1902". Archived from the original on 10 October 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  18. ^ "Spain - Cup 1902". RSSSF. 15 September 2000. Archived from the original on 21 July 2022. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Historia del FC Barcelona, Web de los Culés" [History of the FC Barcelona, Web of the Culés]. (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 7 November 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  20. ^ 100 años de la primera piedra del estadio de Les Corts Archived 16 March 2022 at the Wayback Machine on Mundo Deportivo
  21. ^ Frederic Porta (31 May 2019). "La 'Edad de Oro' del Barça llega a su centenario" [Barça's 'Golden Age' reaches its centenary]. (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 12 January 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2022.<
  22. ^ a b c Loana Viera (15 August 2018). "Muerte tabú: la historia del suicidio "escondido" de Joan Gamper, el fundador del Barcelona" [Taboo death: the story of the "hidden" suicide of Joan Gamper, the founder of Barcelona] (in Spanish). Infobae. Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  23. ^ "A history of indifference". El Mundo (in Spanish). 18 February 2002. Archived from the original on 25 February 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  24. ^ "Joan Gamper (1908-1909 / / 1910-1913 / / 1917-1919 / / 1921-1923 / / 1924-1925)". FC Barcelona. Archived from the original on 31 May 2023. Retrieved 20 September 2023.
  25. ^ "Joan Gamper: El 'shock' del suicidio del fundador del Barça" [Joan Gamper: The 'shock' of the suicide of the founder of Barça] (in Spanish). Mundo Deportivo. 31 July 2020. Archived from the original on 11 January 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  26. ^, Webmaster. "Gang dur Alt-Züri: Die Gamperstrasse" [Walk through Alt-Züri: The Gamperstrasse]. (in German). Archived from the original on 19 June 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2022.

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