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On Thursday, and amongst major media expectation, the FC Barcelona delegation, headed by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, new Club ambassador Ronaldinho Gaúcho, and CEO Òscar Grau, began the institutional visit to the Chinese island of Hainan, where on Friday they will present the strategic agreement with Mission Hills Group. The project, which was approved by the members at the Extraordinary Assembly last October, involves plans to construct a large FCBEscola and a ‘Barça experience area’ in the capital, Haikou. It also includes a Megastore, an interactive space about the history of the Club and a catering zone.
Surrounded by some 250 journalists from the Chinese media, president Bartomeu and the rest of the delegation, accompanied by the vice-president of Mission Hills Group, Tenniel Chu, visited the site where the FCBEscola is being built, and which will become operational in September on a complex owned by the Chinese Football Association. FCB Escola Hainan will be the first of its kind directly managed by the Club and will consist of seven football fields and can accommodate one thousand children.
Ronaldinho was the star during the presentation of some of the boys and girls who will be forming part of the future FCBEscola, participating in a series of three-on-three training matches, in which he taught them some tricks to improve their technique.
Shortly after, Bartomeu and the president of Mission Hills Group, Ken Chu, held a discussion with around 15 media companies to explain Barça’s project in China. The Club president told the Chinese media that the partnership with Mission Hills Group would help to develop football in Asia, increase Barça’s brand value in this strategic territory and attract new regional sponsors.
Bartomeu also stressed that China is a key market for the Club due to its potential and the Chinese government’s plan to turn it into a global footballing superpower by 2050. The Asian country aspires to have 50 million children and adults playing football by 2020, by which date they will have 20,000 training centres and 70,000 places nationwide.
President Bartomeu also gave two interviews to CCTV, the most important TV channel in the country, and the Xinhua news agency.
For FC Barcelona, the chance to join forces with such a leading organisation in the sports and entertainment sector as Mission Hills Group was a key factor in deciding to take part in this project in Hainan, one of the main tourist destinations for the Chinese people. The island, in the south of the country, is in a strategic, non-industrialized area with major environmental sustainability, known as the Hawaii of Asia and enjoys a tropical climate that has kilometres of beaches.
The intense day for the FC Barcelona delegation, which also featured the director of the club’s Hong Kong office, Xavier Asensi, ended with a private dinner with the directors of the Mission Hills Group.
Statement by Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of FC Barcelona:
“We are very happy to work with Mission Hills Group. It is incredible what they are doing in Hainan through sport. They chose FC Barcelona and we chose them. We have a great project for the coming years which will certainly be successful. It is very important for Barça to connect with China, not just as a football club but as a school. We will try to teach the children of China our football and our philosophy.”
“I believe China needs something like what we are offering here. For China, it will be a step forward in football.” “This will be the only FCBEscola that is completely managed by FC Barcelona.”
“We have chosen China because it is an incredible country. The Chinese government is planning to promote football, to create players and wants to introduce football to society as a very important sport.”
“We have chosen China because the future is here. The Chinese population is warming more and more to football. And why should Barça not help to create this dream driven by the Chinese government? We believe it will be very successful.”
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