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Josep Maria Bartomeu during his video conference with Harvard / VÍCTOR SALGADO-FCB

FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu participated in a lecture at Harvard Business School on Tuesday via a video conference in which the club was presented as a case study, looking at how the organisation has managed to combine global success while staying true to its local roots.

Barça’s case was presented for the first time to the Harvard students of the Creative Industries syllabus led by professor Anita Elberse, an expert in the sport and entertainment industries. The 180 students attentively followed the lecture of professor Elberse as well as the comments from President Bartomeu who participated from the stands of the Camp Nou.

Bartomeu spoke, with an interval of an hour and a half, to the two classes in which the course is divided. Bartomeu explained to students what FC Barcelona is and what the club represents in the world of football.

The fact that the club is owned by its members makes the club special, Bartomeu explained. Therefore, when it comes to managing the club, the thoughts of the members must be taken into account and the doors must be open to all the fans who visit and follow the club around the world.

This is precisely the main point to be drawn from the case study which the students of the Harvard Business School have worked on. The key to FC Barcelona’s has been in combining its international outlook while maintaining its deep local roots, identifying itself with Catalonia.

The essence of Barça

The presentation then focused around an idea that defines the essence of Barça: the ball as the centre of everything. “FC Barcelona’s success” explained Bartomeu “is that for decades we have sought to treat the ball with the respect that this sport deserves. From our youth teams and right through to our stars, the ball is at the centre of all of our effort and it from this that our game reflects the five values that define our club: effort, teamwork, respect, humility and ambition”.

In the discussion that followed, Bartomeu answered a series of questions asked by the students, who were clearly very interested in learning about a wide range of aspects of the Club, from its politics to the price of tickets and from ways of maximising attendance at the stadium to how young talents are nurtured in La Masia and how a Club operates when rather than answer to a single owner, it is run by its more than 140,000 members. As for competition in the football business, Bartomeu commented that “Barça’s biggest competitor right now is no single club, but rather the Premier League as a competition.”

As explained in the conclusions to the study, in order for the Club to maintain its successful model, it needs to meet a series of objectives, which include the maintenance of sporting excellence, the generation of profits, the expansion of the Barça name around the world, and leadership on social networks (the Club has more than 200 million followers) while also respecting its roots at home.

The Harvard Business School is considered to be one of the most important institutions of its kind in the world and is one of the flagships of the prestigious university. In almost four hundred years of existence, the centre has educated many of the most influential leaders, businesspeople and thinkers in the world.

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