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FC Barcelona officially broke ground on Thursday at the Johan Cruyff Stadium, which will be the jewel of the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper and an emblematic piece of the Espai Barça project and where a clear plastic time capsule filled with different objects was deposited into the ground. The institutional event was celebrated on the old grounds of the El Forn tennis club, where the new stadium is expected to be completed within 14 months. The Johan Cruyff Stadium, which is named after a leading figure in the history of FC Barcelona and in honour of his legacy, will be the home of Barça B, the Barça Women’s team and the Under-19 team for Youth League matches, but It will also be where the academy players of the squad will wrap up their training as they dream of making the leap to the Camp Nou.

The event was attended by President Josep Maria Bartomeu; the first Vice President Jordi Cardoner; Vice President Jordi Mestre; the Commissioner of Espai Barça, Jordi Moix; the Club Directors Ramon Pont, Silvio Elías, Josep Ramon Vidal-Abarca, Jordi Calsamiglia, Maria Teixidor, Oriol Tomàs, Xavier Vilajoana, and Barça CEO Òscar Grau. Attending on behalf of the Cruyff family were Danny Cruyff, the widow of Johan Cruyff, and her daughters, Susila and Chantal, and other members of the Cruyff family. The City Council of Sant Joan Despí was represented by its mayor, Antoni Poveda. Representatives of the sports institutions of Catalonia, such as the Secretary General of Sport, Gerard Figueras, and the President of the Catalan Football Federation, Andreu Subies, also attended the ceremony.

The Club also wanted to give prominence to the Club’s athletes, who were represented by first team captain Andrés Iniesta and his teammate Gerard Deulofeu; the captain of Barça B, Sergi Palencia, and teammate Carles Aleñá; the first and third captains of the Barça Women’s team, Laura Ràfols and Marta Unzué, and two young amateur football players, Pau Prim, from the Under-12 team, and Martina González, from the girls’ Under-12 team. There were also residents of La Masia and other academy coaches on hand.

Tribute to Cruyff with the 14th of the 9th

The symbolic laying of the first stone started with a video showing what the Johan Cruyff Stadium will look like and what it signifies. The first stone is part of the box of memories made out of transparent methacrylate which will house objects that will go down in history. The box was covered in sand today but it won’t stay like that as the Club will take it out again and place it in a visible location at the new Johan Cruyff Stadium so everyone will be able to see it and remember this day. The date of the event was no coincidence. Josep Maria Bartomeu explained how the 14 September was chosen in homage to Johan Cruyff who wore the number ‘14’ and ‘9’ on his back during his playing career.

Once the mayor of Poveda, the Commissioner Jordi Moix, the Barça Women captain Laura Ràfols, and the Barça B captain Sergi Palencia had spoken, President Josep Maria Bartomeu started the process of placing the objects in the memory box. The Barça B and Barça Women captains were representing the two teams who will use this stadium in the future. Susila Cruyff, daughter of Johan Cruyff and President of his Foundation, placed a small statue of his father in the box; Andrés Iniesta, accompanied by Bartomeu, placed a football signed by all the first team players as a symbol of the style of play Johan Cruyff introduced which has made Barça into a global reference point. Ràfols and Palencia added a shirt signed by the rest of the players in the name of all the footballers at the Club. Jordi Moix placed a helmet from the Espai Barça building site; the mayor of Sant Joan Despí deposited a tray from the sculptor Josep Maria Jujol, representing one of his most emblematic buildings, the Can Negre modernist house located in Sant Joan Despí. Finally, the latest Revista Barça issue, the front covers of today’s newspapers and current banknotes were all put in to the box.

To bring the act to its conclusion the amateur players Pau Prim and Martina González were in charge of lowering the memory box, which symbolised the first stone, into the ground before the participants covered it in sand and the moment was captured with a big group photograph.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu's statements:  

“This event is full of symbolism for us. We have chosen this date because the numbers ‘14’ and ‘9’ are linked to Johan Cruyff’s playing career. The Masia players will be able to look out the window at the stadium where their dreams can come true.”

“It is a collective dream of all our members. I would like to express my gratitude to all the previous Club Presidents: Nuñez because he bought this land some years ago to start the Masia; Gaspart because he believed in the project and he lay the first stone; Laporta for the work done in Sant Joan Despí and for having inaugurated the Ciutat Esportiva; finally, Rosell for providing the final push towards a new Masia and new sports halls. I would also like to congratulate the architects Batlle and Roig for their design and to thank the Cruyff family for allowing us to name the stadium after Johan.”

“We will have the best installations for playing football. I encourage the people of Sant Joan Despí and Baix Llobregat to come and watch future footballing legends.”

Espai Barça Commissioner Jordi Moix's statements:  

“It is a special moment. The Johan Cruyff Stadium will have a capacity of 6,000 and will cost €12 million. It will be inaugurated in 14 months. We would have liked it to be quicker but building a stadium is a long and laborious process. The Stadium is an example of the work we have put in in the last few years and I invite you all to take part.”

“There are a lot of us blaugranas and we have had differences but there is a common line which has made us strong. We have a strong heritage that links us to the land and it has allowed us to create the Club we have today. The Johan Cruyff Stadium is an example of this.”

Mayor of Sant Joan Despí Antoni Poveda's statements: 

“Today is an important day. We are laying the first stone of a stadium which is bigger than Sant Despí and Catalunya as it will be a global reference as it is FC Barcelona’s and it is named after Johan Cruyff."

“On behalf of the town council, I would like to thanks President Bartomeu, the Board, and the FC Barcelona representatives for the big effort they have put in to make this possible. It is a good thing for Sant Joan Despí: the city gets more heritage and more infrastructure and public transport.”

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