Rosell, during the conference / PHOTO: ASPIRE4SPORT

Zubizarreta, during the conference / PHOTO: ASPIRE4SPORT

Zubizarreta, during the conference / PHOTO: ASPIRE4SPORT

During the Aspire4Sport conference in Qatar, Sandro Rosell said that Barça’s objective is to “remain the world’s best club.” When asked what future challenges the Club faces, the Barça President said, “our challenge is to maintain this position, both on and off the field.” Speaking to an auditorium full of sport and business representatives from around the world, Rosell said that “it’s necessary that people identify with the Club’s values and our philosophy of play.” These will contribute, according to Rosell, to Barça’s growing worldwide fan base.

Mr Rosell also spoke about the challenges of managing the Club, and reiterated that the Board’s first objective when it came into power was to reduce the Club’s debt. “We have to find the balance between reducing debt and making necessary investments to maintain athletic excellence ... We have a a restrictive budget in order to address the debt issue. But that doesn’t stop us from investing money in the athletic component of the Club every season,” concluded Rosell.

Deliberate reliance on home grown players

The Masía and FC Barcelona’s youth programmes play a vital role in the Club’s athletic policy, explains Sandro Rosell, “to have good players you can either buy them from outside the Club or create them at home. We’ve clearly opted for the latter option.” Mr Rosell reiterated his stance that youth players that manage make the jump to international football should be paid in kind with fair contracts, “at the Masía, we are producing the best players in the world. We are more than happy to pay them well, because that would mean they are the best players.”

Sandro Rosell was also asked to give his opinion on the proposal to have La Liga games start at noon in order to satisfy the Asian market. Mr Rosell said, “we have other plans for the Asian market; we have plans to do it.”

The Barça President believes that La Liga’s current television rights and revenues model, a recurring theme at the conference, will change in the coming years. Rosell said that the current commercial and television rights model of the Spanish League needs to change from individual teams negotiating contracts to a collective negotiation structure. Rosell reiterated that the number of teams in La Liga needed to be reduced, in order to free up game days for both the Champions League and club friendlies, a measure that would increase revenue.

The financial situations of football clubs was also a hot topic of debate during the conference. The Barça President said he agreed with UEFA’s decision to implement the new financial ‘Fair Play’ regulation. However, Rosell believes that the regulation doesn’t go far enough, “we have to know who is paying the clubs money. It’s not enough to go over income and expenditure accounts, we must know where the money is coming from. I’m against this kind of speculation in the footballing world.”

Lastly, he spoke about FC Barcelona’s recent deal with the Qatar Foundation. The shirt sponsorship allows Barça to “fight back from a disadvantageous position that Barça had with other big European clubs, while maintaining its athletic excellence.” Rosell highlighted the Club’s democratic values and that the members' assembly approved the sponsorship deal by a margin of 90%. “I’m very happy with how we did it and with the final result,” he said.

Folguera and Zubizarreta

After Sandro Rosell made his appearance at the conference, Cales Folguera and Andoni Zubizarreta picked up where the President left off. The the Masía Director, Folguera, explained that the Masía had a responsibility beyond sports, that the Club aimed to be integral in the human formation of its residents. The Masía teaches players more than football, added Folguera, the institutional also doubles as an academic school and foments family living principles. On the athletic excellence that the Masía demands, Folguera said that attributes such as talent, motivation and the desire to always learn are always accompanied by an ethic of self-criticism.

Andoni Zubizarreta, playing the role of the ex-footballer, talked about the Masía from a sports and human perspective. He said that it’s the fundamental point on which FC Barcelona structures its football organization, above the system of play. Carl Lewis, Bob Beamon and Nadia Comaneci, and other famous athletes figured among Aspire4Sport's featured speakers.

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