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Pau Gasol is united to Barça again, this time off the court. The Catalan basketball star, currently at the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA and considered the best Spanish player of all time, has reached an agreement with FC Barcelona to become its ambassador, strategic advisor and partner in the United States. FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Gasol presented the two-year agreement this Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Brickell (Miami), whereby they will be working together to boost the Barça brand in the country. The older of the Gasol brothers has earned hero status in the US after 18 glitteringly successful years in the world’s biggest professional basketball league.
The USA is a key strategic market for Barça, and one in which it is currently expanding and consolidating its popularity. The club is convinced that Pau Gasol is the ideal partner to help strengthen its brand, and to generate new business opportunities by exploiting his prestige, experience and contacts in the country. An important part of this agreement includes collaboration between the Barça and Gasol Foundations to set up joint charity programs to help children at risk.
Thanks to this agreement, Barça will be entitled to use Pau Gasol’s image in the US market and benefit from the contacts that he has established during his years in the NBA, where he has played for the Memphis Grizzlies (2001-2008), Los Angeles Lakers (2008-2014), Chicago Bulls (2014-2016), San Antonio Spurs (2016-2019) and now the Milwaukee Bucks.
Gasol will also be serving as the club’s strategic advisor, working in liaison with the New York office managed by Xavier O’Callaghan, sharing his experience with the NBA and its franchises to nurture Barça’s influence and attract possible investors. His links to the club will also help to increase its fan base in the United States, which has grown considerably after the soccer team visited the country for its last two summer tours.
Barça is looking for Gasol to help grow its brand on the basis of the five core areas of the 2015-2021 Strategic Plan, namely sporting excellence, social impact, real estate and the Espai Barça, brand and global positioning, and economic management and sustainability. He will also be helping to foster the Barça Innovation Hub project in the United States.
Pau Gasol is thus re-forging his ties to the club for which he played in the early years of his career. He was born in Barcelona but grew up in Sant Boi de Llobregat on the outskirts of the city, and joined FC Barcelona in the 1997-98 season at the age of 16, the year the club won the Spanish Junior Championship. Under coach Joan Montes, he made his debut in the Spanish ACB League on 17 January 1999 and was made a member of the first team’s full-time roster for the 1999-00 season. It was at the ACB League playoffs and the Copa del Rey in Malaga in the 2000-01 season that he truly made his breakthrough.
Pau, whose younger brother Marc also rose through the youth ranks at Barça and is now playing for the Toronto Raptors, drew plenty of interest from several teams in the NBA. He was a number three pick in the 2001 Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, although his rights were then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. He was only the second Spaniard to ever play in the NBA but didn’t take long to make his mark, becoming the first Spaniard to feature in the All-Star Game (Houston 2006), to appear in the playoffs (Grizzlies, 2003-04) and to win the championship (Lakers, 2008-09 and 2009-10).
Statement by Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of FC Barcelona:
“It makes us very proud at FC Barcelona to have Pau Gasol back at the club. He is representing Barça again, not on the court as he did when he started out in basketball, but in another world where he also been a game winner, which is that of image, branding, relationships with fans and social commitments. It is great news for our club and its fans and members to have Pau Gasol as the our ambassador and advisor in such a strategic country as the United States, where we want to be even better known, admired and loved”.
“Pau is an exemplary sportsman and a person who shares the same values as the club. He is a role model and an example for younger players thanks to his attitude and behavior. He is an athlete who has always displayed ambition and determination at all of his clubs and also for the Spanish national team, with which he has won the most important titles in the basketball world. But he is also a man of principles and highly committed to helping those in need through his foundation and as a UNICEF ambassador. We are sure that through Pau Gasol we will be able to make ourselves even stronger in the United States and the collaboration between his foundation and Barça Foundation will help many children in need all around the world.
Statement by Pau Gasol:
“It is an honor for me to represent Barça off the court and a challenge that I face with great enthusiasm. After years playing in the best basketball league in the world, I hope to be able to provide the knowledge I have acquired to help the Club consolidate the Barça brand in the USA. This country is admired for its dynamism, the entrepreneurial ability of its people, and as one of the most competitive markets in the world. I am convinced that after so many years as part of the NBA family, with the lessons learned and the people I have met, this will help me bring value from the first minute. Although I’m still competing in the NBA, now with the Milwaukee Bucks, and with the same motivation as always, this agreement is very important for me because it represents the type of collaborations I pursue: strategy and shared values, and a brand with which I feel identified, in this case, for the second time in my life”.
“Furthermore, this agreement also serves to strengthen the relationship between the Gasol Foundation and the Barça Foundation, to work together and in a coordinated manner on our respective missions in the United States, in Barcelona and around the world”.
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