On Friday one of the most prestigious international newspapers in the world, the Financial Times, published an in depth report focusing on FC Barcelona’s Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB) project. The piece is the work of award winning sports writer Simon Kuper who spent several days in Barcelona during the month of February and it highlights the Club’s efforts regarding innovation in sport, praising its leadership and its vision of the future of football as well as looking at strategic projects such as the Espai Barça, the Barça Innovation Hub and the FC Barcelona Foundation.
The Barça Innovation Hub, a project launched in 2017, is described by the FT as being “charged with helping to invent the future of football” and in which “staff think about everything in the game from beetroot juice to virtual reality.”
President Josep Maria Bartomeu tells the Financial Times that BIHUB is Barça’s most important project, adding: “The sportsmen of the future will perform much better than the ones now.” Furthermore, the newspaper touches on Barça’s openness in sharing the fruits of their research, unlike many other clubs, and there is praise for the freedom given to the project’s specialists who, in the words of the Club president, “have the best laboratory in the world – 2,500 men and women athletes from eight years old to 30, in different sports.”
The innovative project’s desire is to spread new products throughout the world of sport with the FC Barcelona board director overseeing BIHUB, Marta Plana, explaining that FC Barcelona could become “the Silicon Valley of sport.”
With coach Ernesto Valverde the report touches on how Barça are preparing for a the day in football when data analysis may be even more important and decisive that it is now. However, the Barça boss admits that player data does not tell the whole story and other factors such as psychology still play an important role.
Another area of innovation identified by the report is the Espai Barça, envisaged as a “vast gateless plaza” with the renovated Camp Nou at its centre. The articles describes how FC Barcelona will be able to use new technology such as 5G telecommunications to help create a more personalised experience for the fans who come to the new state of the art complex.
Finally, the report looks at the FC Barcelona’s commitment to “social impact” not just via the Barça Innovation Hub and Espai Barça, but also via the Barça Foundation. One clear example of this is described: Robot Pol, the virtual reality tool that allows hospitalised children and others around the world to visit the Club’s facilities and that forms part of FC Barcelona’s social mission to be Més que un club (More than a club).