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FC Barcelona’s American journey, which was officially launched Tuesday with the inauguration of the Club’s U.S. corporate headquarters, located smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, has touched all the bases.
A string of high-profile events playing out during the Club’s first 48 hours in the Big Apple gave the opening of the new office a distinctly American flavor, something akin to an apple pie with all the essential ingredients.
The Waldorf Astoria hung a Barça flag on its Park Avenue façade next to the ever present Stars and Stripes. The Empire State Building prepared to bathe itself in the Barça colors for a night. The antique jockeys at 21 Club traded in their racing silks for Blaugrana jerseys.
The cultural side of Barça’s newest venture, which dominated the headlines on Tuesday, gave way to a slew of media appearances Wednesday morning, as the FC Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, gave a quartet of interviews to some of the nation’s most prominent outlets.
Visits to CNN and Bloomberg TV were followed up with sit downs at ESPN and Fox Radio.
Appearing on Bloomberg, Mr. Bartomeu delved into the reasoning behind Barça’s move to New York.
“We are a Club that likes to be admired and that likes to play well and win,” he said. “And that’s attracting sponsors and interest.”
Cognizant of the fact that television viewership is key to winning new fans, Bartomeu emphasized the changing nature of the business, especially for teams from La Liga.
“The Premier League has more of an advantage, but La Liga is coming up from behind,” he explained. “Most of the world’s football stars play in La Liga, so fans in the US are following those players.”
And with the Club’s focus on expanding youth interest in the game of football, the demographics in the United States play to Barça’s favor as well.
“Right now in America a lot of [young] people are playing football, and we are trying to explain [the game] to them,” Bartomeu said. “We already have one school in Miami, we are opening one in Charlotte next Monday, and we will open one in New York.”
For now, though, it seems Barça has a rock solid foundation on which to further build the organization.
Sponsorship giants like Nike, Gatorade, and Gillette, which are already huge players in the Club’s portfolio, are the perfect complements to another trio of blue chip assets — the three superstar players Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Luis Suárez, also known as The Trident.
The Club knows full well that the need to keep bringing in the world’s best players — often times at exorbitant prices determined by a skyrocketing market — has brought them to this very moment.
But talk of €100 million transfer fees “is something that doesn’t alarm us,” Bartomeu said. “It’s becoming more and more frequent.”
Barça, after all, paid €81 million for Suárez, according to Bartomeu. “It was a big amount at that time,” he said. “But after you see the performance of a player like Luis Suárez, you think it was worthwhile.”
“We are going to try and win everything,” he said, while highlighting the domino effect of being the best team.
Because of Barça’s performance, “We earn money, and that’s important,” he said. “And we reinvest in football.”
“We are a Club owned by 160,000 members. And we want results. That’s why everything we earn goes back into football again.”
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