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Hans-Max Gamper Haessig , known in Spain as Joan Gamper (Winterthur, Switzerland, November 22, 1877-Barcelona, Spain, July 30, 1930) , was a Swiss sportsman, who has gone down in history as the founder of two football clubs: the Fussballclub Zürich and the Barcelona Football Club, the team he presided over for several years.
Joan Gamper’s Biography
Sportsman and FC Zürich
Throughout his life he devoted himself to sports with the practice of various disciplines, especially football. In Zurich and in France he was considered an exceptional athlete for his class and vitality.
When her mother died of tuberculosis, the family moved to Zurich, where her father was from. In this city, at twelve years old, he already stood out as a cyclist. For work reasons he had to abandon the sport of cycling and that’s when he decided to dedicate himself to football. Considered one of the best Swiss players, he was captain of the F.C. Basel, before being considered the best forward of the F.C. Excelsior. Differences with the latter forced him to abandon it. It was then that Gamper decided to found FC Zürich, which would soon stand out as one of the best teams in Switzerland.
Subsequently, in 1897, Gamper moved to Lyon and there joined the Union Athlétique, where he would practice rugby. Finally, in 1899 he arrived in Barcelona where he soon made friends with the foreign colony that was in the city. Enthusiastic and very active man, decided to contribute to spread the sport of soccer and began to practice in the neighborhood of San Gervasio de Cassolas, where he lived. Little by little, the project he had to found a football club in the city matured.
On October 22, 1899, he included in the magazine Los Deportes a small advertisement inviting all foreign fans to practice football to meet. Only one month and a week later, on November 29, 1899, the Gimnasio Solé, on Carrer Montjuïc del Carme, number 5, was the setting for the founding of Fútbol Club Barcelona. Back then called Club Football of Barcelona. The colors chosen for the shirt were those of FC Basel, blue and red (garnet). In the first years, the club was driven by locals and foreigners; In fact, of the twelve founding members, half were Spanish, and the rest were foreigners settled in Barcelona. A similar proportion was observed among the players of that time.
Hans Gamper played in the first team of Barcelona from 1899 to 1903. In 1901 he was part of the team that won the first title for Barcelona, the Macaya Cup. In 1902, he played the final of the first edition of the Copa del Rey, lost 1-0 to Club Bizcaya.
Subsequently he took over on several occasions the presidency of the club (from December 2, 1908 to October 14, 1909, from September 17, 1910 to June 30, 1913, from June 17, 1917 to June 19, 1919, from July 17, 1921 to June 29, 1923 and from June 1, 1924 to December 17, 1925). In 1912, Gamper signed Paulino Alcántara Riestra, one of the top scorers in the history of Barcelona with 357 goals. During the Gamper era, they won 11 Catalonia Championships, 6 King’s Cups and 4 Pyrenees Cup. Hans Gamper was perfectly integrated into Barcelona life to such an extent that he wrote all his speeches in Catalan, a language he learned before Castilian according to the historian of Barca, Manuel Tomás.
In 1922, Hans Gamper donated one million pesetas for the construction of the Les Corts camp.
Exile and suicide
After having supported the Catalan nationalism, he was forced to leave Spain by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in 1925. The field of Les Corts was closed for three months by the central government for having booed the Spanish anthem and applauded the anthem British. From there, Hans Gamper lost his usual enthusiasm and his health worsened. Later, the authorities let him return to Barcelona but under certain conditions, as explained by the head of the FC Barcelona documentation and studies center, Manuel Tomás:
As a condition for his return, he was forbidden any kind of association with the club. He found it very difficult to overcome this reality and fell into a depression. It was five terrible years that eventually led to his death in 1930, the year in which he ended his life. The lace was put by the Great Depression of 1929 that completely ruined him.
Hans Gamper put an end to his days on July 30, 1930, when he was shot in his home in Barcelona. The funeral of Hans Gamper was massive and an impressive demonstration of mourning for the city, as recorded by the newspaper La Vanguardia on August 1.
One of the main characteristics of FC Barcelona is that it is a multi-sports club, as its founder wanted it to.
More Facts about Joan Gamper
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