By Sabrina Mesa
The presented research, case study of FC Barcelona (FCB), aims to highlight the outstanding globalization of a football club that has made an identity of their own, positively affecting its city and non-Profit organizations like UNICEF. Its governance, sportsmanship and supporters confirm FCB’s slogan, “mes que un club,” or “more than a club,” because it is more than just a football team. The study focuses on the football team but it also considers the difficulties of sports business organizations and the particular characteristics of FCB that allow for special emphasis on this kind of globalization and branding. The club holds deep historical connections with Barcelona and with the Catalan national identity, which differentiates it from other major football clubs like A.C Milan, Manchester United or Real Madrid.
The FCB official website offers plentyof information regarding their six athletic installations in the city of Barcelona along. The official website also provides statistics of official supporters’ club, dividing them by geographic location throughout Spain and all around the world. The previous information demonstrates the club’s media efficiency and extensive reach to all the different demographics the club connects with. The official website along with many other sources on the discourse reveal that, “Barça has become, for millions of people all around the world, a symbol of their identity, and not just in a sporting sense, but also in terms of society, politics and culture.” The splendor of Football Club Barcelona is also explained by its impressive honors list. The team has won championships in Wembley, Paris and Rome demonstrating the teams’ universality.
The values of FC Barcelona, which considers Catalan identity, universality, social commitment and democracy, have been applied through the aid towards world wide non-profit organizations like UNICEF and United Nations Organization’s towards humanitarian aid projects around the world. This partnership has arguably given FCB an identity that goes hand in hand with the efforts of making the club ‘more than a club.’
Here is a video that summarizes the details of the allience:
The logo of Unicef is one to fit perfect an identity that has been for long part of FCB’s history. In the case of FC Barcelona the integrity of a well-established identity is now in jeopardy of being reshaped. In 2012, the club will turn away from a 107-year tradition, proving that even such a successful franchise isn’t invincible from financial woes. “Barcelona vice-president Javier Faus has defended the club’s record- breaking shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation by insisting the €150 million partnership will ease the Catalan giant’s financial concerns. “This is the biggest (shirt sponsorship) deal in the history of football and is particularly impressive at a time of economic crisis.” The Qatar Foundation partnership is worth around €10 million per season…according to the club, the children’s charity will continue to receive exposure next season.”” (Sports Business) The fact that FC Barcelona has not have a corporate sponsor on their uniforms has long been a source of pride for the club and its supporters. The discourse long used by the club that the Barça shirt is too pure to be tainted by such a crass degree of commercialism no longer applies.
Shobe explains that, “An official jersey buys the right to advertise via team jerseys, worn by players and fans. Jersey’s become billboards to promote a product that is often not explicitly related to sport nor to the place where the team is located.” The amount of attention the club receives internationally is what makes it such a valuable entity for advertisers. In this case, the Qatar foundation who runs “education, scientific research and community development” projects in Qatar, which recently secured the hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The interest that Qatar may have with FCB speaks of their concerns of raising football awareness and association with the sport with the foundation. Qatar is globalizing their brand through the jersey of one of the most globally known football teams in the world.
For the future, FCB will not be an exemption to this kind of commercialism. This new relationship can also be seen as a major player in what is referred to as the “enlarged Europe” in Alec Charles book. “Thinking about the way in which Europe has expanded in recent years also necessitates a consideration of the way in which parts of Europe have linked up with global financial and information networks…contributing to ‘vernacular geopolitics.’ (Hayward, 127) A parallel of this relationship can be drawn with the deal sealed by Berlusconi’s RIA, Ben Ammar and Prince Al Weed in Hayward’s article. It is learned through the article published by Sports Business that, “The new sponsorship deal was negotiated with input from IMG, the international sports and entertainment company, which was a strategic adviser of the Qatar 2022 bid” In both of these examples, we can clearly see that a more ‘internationally neutral’ middle man serves as the liaison to unite two institutions that until then, would almost be impossible to associate one another. Hayward also introduces the term of “Vernacular Geopolitics” referring to “The intuitional and political-economic relations that constitute the transnational networks within which cultural commodities circulate.” (Hayward 127) These examples consider how some countries in Europe have engaged with global financial institutions for financial help, each time dominating a new medium of communication, as it has with football for example. This institution stands for the power of using sport as means to achieve social change. To the children that benefit from the FCB/Unicef alliance and the Catalan identity, the new partnership means a globalization of their goals through the face of Qatar. The discourse of globalization displacing sport is one that now affects FCB, the branding of FCB with Qatar changes the value and place related function it has serve for the team in the past. Although one can argue that this was Qatar’s motive, and even though this deal may not be seen through a positive view, one has to admire Qatar’s cleverness to attach themselves to both of these brands.
ž"Corporate Information." FCBarcelona.com. FC Barcelona, 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
Cutler, Matt. "Shirt sponsor will ease Barcelona’s financial concerns – Faus." Sport Business 13 Dec. 2010: n. pag. Google Scholar. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
žHayward, Marc. "Vernacular Geopolitics and Media Economies in an Enlarged Europe." Media in the Enlarged Europe. By Alec Charles. N.p.: Intellect Ltd., 2009. 125- 131. Print.
Shobe, Hunter. "Place, Sport and Globalization: Making sense of la marca Barça." Treballs de la Societat Catalana de Geografia 61-62.2006 (2006): 259-276. Google Scholar. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.