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NEW YORK — If Futbol Club Barcelona is “More than a Club,” then Thursday night’s event at the New York City office of The Players’ Tribune can only be described as more than a welcome party.
Held in a spacious loft 14 floors above the bustling streets of Manhattan's trendy Chelsea district, a diverse crowd of FC Barcelona supporters, followers and fans rubbed elbows with celebrities and club executives, with the factory-style bay windows providing majestic views of the vast swath of steel and glass skyscrapers, the lower end of the Hudson River, One World Trade Center, and beyond to the Statue of Liberty.
The guest list included an impressive ensemble of celebrities and professional athletes, who socialized with club officials as a pair of DJs provided the soundtrack for an unforgettable night amidst these quintessentially American srroundings.
Among those on hand were the film director Spike Lee and the Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton.
Attending from the world of sports were the NBA players Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors, Wilson Chandler of the Denver Nuggets, Noah Vonleh of the Portland Trailblazers, and Frank Ntilikina of the New York Knicks; and the NFL’s Damon Harrison of the New York Giants.
Just as the star-studded event was beginning to heat up, the night’s biggest moment arrived when the Barça defender Gerard Piqué—who was shuttled into the city immediately following the team’s afternoon training session—entered the room. Piqué was mobbed by, seemingly, everyone, as they vied for position while fidgeting with their smartphones and setting up their selfie-cams for the must-have shot. Spike Lee moved in to greet Piqué, getting his keeper with the Barça star as the two chatted away from close range in order to be heard over a hip hop track blaring away from the DJ booth.
A smorgasbord of Catalan delights sated any guests who arrived with even the slightest hint of hunger. A giant seafood paella, Iberian cold cuts, and escalivada roasted peppers added a dash of Mediterranean aroma to the air.
Dozens of FC Barcelona officials schmoozed with the crowd—including Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu, and the Vice Presidents Jordi Cardoner and Jordi Mestre—as Piqué made his way to the back, where he played arcade basketball, much to the delight of a multitude of onlookers, who quickly toggled their phones to video mode. Club photographer Santiago Garcés, who took the most famous photo ever of Lionel Messi at Camp Nou, snapped away as the revelers mingled on.
The atmosphere was like a dynamo, with a palpable energy feeding off itself and providing FC Barcelona with everything it had dreamt of, and more, when it opened its New York office last September.
The next episode in Barça’s New York adventure is set for Friday, when the team will take part in an open training session at the Red Bull Arena, around 24 hours before facing Juventus in their preseason opener on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.
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