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FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu addressed the 36th World Congress of Penyes (supporters clubs) on Wednesday morning, discussing the present and future of a variety of different aspects of the club, and especially the challenges ahead after his candidacy won the elections on July 18:
- Create a Barça Observatory and University, making it the only club to share its knowledge by means of its own university.
- Create the Masia 360º, to ensure that athletes and coaches remain attached to the club after retirement.
- Foster women’s sport to put Barça at the forefront of its development.
“We need to be even more global” said Bartomeu to a packed assembly hall. “We want Barça to be even bigger leaders but for there to be room for us all … In sporting terms, we are engaged in a new winning cycle. We are hopeful about the new season and want to win all six trophies and then become the first team to win the Champions League twice in a row. And we have the best attacking trio in the world to help us do that. Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suárez deserve to be the three finalists for the FIFA Balon d’Or.”
Moving onto finances, he proudly stated that “we are the first club in the world, of any sport, to break the barrier of 600 million in income.” And when discussing the club’s social weight, he commented that “counting members and supporters clubs there are 300,000 Barça fans and no club in the world can compare with those figures.”
The supporters club movement is one that Bartomeu is especially impressed by, and he thanked them for all of their good work and wished them all the best with their long-term plans for the period between now and 2021.
Freedom of expression
Bartomeu also commented on UEFA’s sanction after flags supporting Catalan independence were seen at the final in Berlin. “Nobody should think that we did not appeal out of weakness” he said. “I said we’d take this matter to the end, and we will. We are responding in the way that best characterises us - thinking about the club’s interests and those of Catalonia. We will be firm but cool-headed. We will use all the legal and diplomatic options we have. That’s because we think that the best for us and for everyone is respect for freedom of expression in keeping with our club’s values and identity.”
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